In an ideal world, I would earn a lot of money, be successful, buy my first house at 20 and I would have a booming social life. However, there is just this tiny (big) problem in my way of being that person. A problem that can completely halt my productivity, and if not found a way to effectively break this habit, has the potential to completely and utterly derail my path to success. Yes, I’m talking about procrastination.
Everyone who knows me well is familiar with the fact that I have a gold medal in the art of procrastination, so it’s funny that i’m writing about how to fight procrastination. However, I think my experiences and how I fight procrastination will help others who are dealing with the same problem.
I realized I was a procrastinator when I first moved to another city to attend college. I was 19 years old and ready to take on the world. I was fortunate enough to rent my own place, no roommates, no significant other, no parents and no siblings. I could dance around in my apartment naked from dusk till dawn, leave my dirty underwear on the bathroom floor and stay up late binge-watching Netflix like I was doing a marathon for starving, orphaned. blind children in Africa. I reveled in the freedom of my solitude and space.
About a month later, I had made some new friends and was invited to a dinner party. It was then that I realized the fact that I was completely out of clean clothes. No socks, no underwear, no sweaters, just nothing. Guess what this genius did? I went to the mall and bought everything new.
Later that day, when I came back from the dinner with my new friends, I realized that the laundry wasn’t the only thing I had been putting off. The dishes were in a pile on the sink, I hadn’t gotten around to paying my bills, hadn’t bought any school supplies etc. It was then that I realized that I had a huge problem, I was a procrastinator. I have always known that I leaned towards the lazy side but haven’t really been bothered with doing anything about it. if I was going to survive three years of college, something had to change quickly. I fight procrastination daily and I hope these tips can help you as much as they helped me.
YOU ARE PROCRASTINATING
You see, the first thing you need when trying to fight procrastination is to admit to yourself that you are indeed procrastinating. You are not tired, you are not hungry, and you certainly don’t have all the time in the world. As soon as you admit to yourself that you are procrastinating, you will change your way of thinking. Instead of jumping over hoops to find new excuses to not start acting, tell yourself to do it now. Repeat it enough times and I can promise you that you will at least take a step towards completing the task at hand.
BREAK THE CYCLE
I have this great relationship with my bed, especially in the mornings. I’m the type of person who needs 10 alarm clocks to be able to wake up. I snooze, and I snooze big time. But here is the thing. I snooze in a controlled manner, hence the 10 alarm clocks.
No one is perfect. Last Friday was one of those days where I needed 20 alarm clocks to wake up in time, instead of 10 alarm clocks. After I woke up and realized that I had overslept, I was ready to write off the day, you know, because I overslept 30 minutes #logic.
However, I didn’t because the problem with that is the fact that I will give the procrastinator in me enough push to keep the ball rolling. I couldn’t do that because I have personal goals to achieve, but more importantly, I have family, colleagues and friends counting on me.
I woke up, went to work, visited my sister after work and worked out in the evening. Sure, my mood was below the norm, but the important thing is that I broke the cycle. I didn’t feed into the desire to push everything aside and go back to sleep.
I love organizing and color-coding stuff. Even though I do it for fun, it is an immensely important tool to stay productive and to fight procrastination. Most people know what to do, but they lack the will to act.
How do you take action? Make a to-do list but don’t stop there. Make a schedule for your to-do list. Making a to-do list without scheduling when to do each task is just wishful thinking.
By scheduling your to-do list, you are eliminating the thought of whether to take action. It is already scheduled so you don’t have to ask yourself if you should do it now or later. You have already eliminated half the problem with procrastination, deciding when to take action.
BREAK IT UP
The biggest reason people procrastinate is because they are dreading the work. My go-to tip when I’m dreading a task is to make a step by step guide on how to do that particular task. Everyone who has written a school paper knows how hard it is to start writing, so let’s use that as an example. My first step would be to find a subject to write about. Then I would find a topic to write about. After that I would write a short introduction etc.
When it’s time for me to write that paper, I’m not dreading the task because I now have a clear guide to follow. I don’t have to write the whole paper in one sitting, but by just finding the subject I want to write about, I’m already on my way to completing that task.
Another example is when I don’t feel like working out. I tell myself that I don’t have to work out, but I’m just going to put on my gym clothes. After that I’m going to tell myself that I’m just going to show up at the gym. And the step after that is to workout for only 10 minutes. If I don’t feel like working out after that, then I tell myself that it’s okay for me to go home. About 85% of the time, I complete my workouts.
When you complete one step, you’ll most likely follow to the next and then to next. Before you know it, you have finished your task.
HAVE IN PLACE SOME SORT OF PUNISHMENT
Whenever I used to cram for exams with my friends, I noticed that they where all talking about how they were going to reward themselves with donuts, dinner on fancy restaurants or shopping if they successfully crammed for exams. Although this might work for some, I don’t think it’s as successful as punishments. I know what you are thinking, but I’m not talking about being beaten up by gang members or being tortured etc. No, what I’m talking about is financial punishment.
Give friends or family members a sum of money and make a deal. For example if you write your school paper in a pre-determined deadline, you can have your money back or if you complete 3 workouts in one week, you can have your money back.
The great thing about this is that you can make the punishments harder depending on how important that task is for you and how important it is for you to fight procrastination. Let’s say you are getting married in three months and you have ordered your wedding dress 2 sizes too small. You can’t afford to not get in that dress, so you can’t go to the gym tomorrow or the day after. You need proper motivation to stop procrastinating, hence why you place a hefty punishment in place to fight procrastination.
TO SUM UP
You need to admit to yourself that you are procrastinating. Procrastination rarely presents itself as what it is but rather tends to hide behind other excuses.
Make a to-do list and schedule it. It makes it easier to take action.
Breaking your task into smaller steps makes it doable and less daunting.
Having in place a proper punishment in case you avoid completing your task is great motivation to stop procrastinating.