Have you ever planned something that didn’t happen at all? Maybe you have made a new year resolution, or dreamed about learning a difficult language, or plan your sport activity . And after the planning, the full of energy time, you have failed in it, it didn’t happen at all, it was put somewhere on your future to do list with no expiration date.
Think about how many times have you started your week with good intentions, swearing that you won’t let yourself be distracted and that you will get all things done. And all that only to find that you don’t tick things in your to-do list, or check e-mail too often or even lose time in social networks, by checking or posting statuses several times a day.
At this moments maybe you have asked yourself how did you get distracted, what stopped you to be focused and finish what you have panned, why is your will to finish all the things you have panned let you down.
There are several reasons that may be costing you your planned success:
You are afraid
You may postpone your work because of a problem not solved yet. You may postpone because you think you can look stupid if you fail. In some cases, it is easier to do something easy and save the real hard work for later. That way, you don’t confront with possible negative results from your work.
You are paralyzed from perfectionism
Think if you want all the things to be done really well. This can take a lot of time and cost you a lot of work. Thinking about that may cause you negative stress and can make you postpone the start of the work and activity, without setting a new date for start and end. You may start rather dream about the result than face the possibility of not deliver the perfect result.
You want to do too much
There is an often seen phenomenon that you feel very sad about procrastinating and you start swearing that you will change for good this time. Then the first thing you do really works and you start with the next and with the next after that. You put some enormous energy to finish all the things at once. Soon you are swamped by things and more stressed than before. You start feeling exhaustion and soon you return to the old but well-known routine.
You want instant gratification
Sitting on the couch may seem for you more comfortable than going to exercise. Drinking your coffee on the window and looking at the beautiful mountain view is much easier than start working on a boring report or calculation. Checking social media gives a faster result than finishing the project that can take hours. You just need some gratification that can’t be postponed in time, or you are not ready to accept that postpone.
You overestimate your future self
Often people postpone things to be done in “better times”. These “better times” can mean that you think you will be more productive, more energized, faster in doing things, etc. Sadly the reality is a little bit different. If you don’t start working on things now in your bright dreamed future you will still be procrastinating as you do it today. If you want to enhance your productivity in the future you need to start working now. The reasons causing you to not be active now are only excuses and will often end up with no increase in productivity.
TIPS TO TACKLE PROCRASTINATION
If you have found one or some of the reasons for procrastination in yourselves you are not alone. According to an HBR report from 2017 64% of people procrastinate 48% of the tasks they have to finish. I am not an exception to this group. I have had several moments laying on procrastination and waiting for better times in my life. Here is how I have tackled these moments and got ready to act:
Get internal insight
You need to identify the reason why you are delaying. Then you need to reframe your resistance by discovering more about the work to be done. Often it is the fear of the unknown that can paralyze and stress you and cause unproductive frustration. You need to map things out and create insight into what needs to be done.
Cut in small pieces
When Husein Bolt was interviewed and asked how did he get to the results he achieves his answer was unexpected for the journalist. Bolt told her that instead of thinking for the whole run he thinks how he can run faster only a few meters in front of him.
You can’t do everything at one time. That is why you need to work in small pieces. To learn a new habit you will need to plan time, prepare the habit, implement it thoroughly and then practice it until it is automated. And you need to understand that you will need persistence if you want to build a new habit. Doing things only halfway can cause you more work, but won’t lead to positive results in time.
Lower external pressure
It wasn’t easy because I’ve had to say to others that I am going to start working in a different way. To do that you will need to find someone who is ready to invest time with you and check frequently the work you are doing. You need to make sure that this person wants the same as you and doesn’t tempt to give you excuses for procrastination.
Begin at the beginning
Often if you think about the end result it may look overwhelming in your head. Forget the planning and prioritizing for a moment. Just start doing the thing now. When finishing it start with the next one. Do that a couple of times and after you gained enough experience collect all the small steps into a bigger picture. That will help you to create a habit that works for you.
Just do something
You may often stop yourself for reason that seems reasonable for you. Some of the reasons that may stop you are lack of knowledge and skills to do the work, your thinking that you are not ready to start, etc. But often this is not true. What makes you stop yourself from moving forward is often your thinking. As much as you think how to do work as many obstacles you find. These are how many people think. What you can do is stop thinking about non-existing obstacles and just start with the first move. You will need to trust your instincts and improvise. And soon you will realize that the next step comes as authorized after the starting step.
Procrastination is a state of mind that can slow or kill your gains. It is something we all do. To change yourself and achieve higher gains you will need to learn how to recognize when you procrastinate and overcome the fear of failure and obstacles and just start doing the things. Because people learn best when they do things and the highest gains don’t come from the books or the articles you read, but from the practice you have.