How To Get Over Your Procrastination?
Tim Urban’s famous TED Talk on Inside the mind of a master procrastinator has over 40 million views.
While the popularity does exude the talk’s remarkable presentation, we cannot ignore the fact that 40 million people worldwide feel like master procrastinators and could do with some help.
So why do we procrastinate? As per Joseph Ferrari, professor of psychology at DePaul University, procrastinators are divided into three major categories:
- The Thrill Seeker: The one who waits until the last minute to experience the rush of meeting deadlines – which albeit its disadvantages, gets their adrenaline up.
- The Avoider: This is the one who avoids the task for fear of failing and being judged.
- The Indecisive: The one who procrastinates by mulling over perfection and ends up getting nothing done.
The lines tend to blur between all the three categories, and we end up getting tired, overworked, and always seeking instant gratification, which leads to delaying priority chores and tasks.
If you too are familiar with the ‘not now’ concept, here are some handy tips to keep procrastination at bay and avoid the last-minute avalanche.
Break Down Your Tasks
F.R Scott once said, ‘Do nothing by halves which can be done by quarters.’ While the quote was meant to be funny, one cannot undermine the element of truth here.
Breaking down tasks is one of the most efficient ways of overcoming procrastination as in the process; you are breaking down the sheer size that makes it less scary.
Scientifically, this process is also known as micro-productivity, where you achieve a prolonged state of productivity in smaller chunks. Here’s how you can do it:
- Define your task
- Set smaller milestones
- Exclude anything irrelevant
- Reward yourself
You can also try a technique known as the Pomodoro Technique, where you break down your schedule into 25 minutes of work mode and 5 minutes rest mode.
After 2 hours, you can treat yourself to a 15-minute break. These short bursts are known to improve your focus and retention power.
Write It Down
What separates doers from procrastinators is their ability to make themselves accountable to the task at hand.
Creating a list or a calendar of your tasks, complete with timelines keeps the vision right up in front and reminds you of the impending work you have been avoiding.
While some prefer to create digital templates, writing your tasks down is more old-school and gives you the pleasure of checking the items off your list.
However, make sure that you jot down essential functions in that list instead of menial yet laborious ones as you are more likely to waste time.
Create Last Minute Panic Now
Our minds are conditioned to work efficiently when we see the fire and seek the thrill of working against the clock.
So why not create a similar situation and trick your mind into going full throttle beforehand?
By creating a near deadline experience, we do not allow our brain to lay back and push it to make decisions immediately. This helps us peak efficiency because, according to our brains, we have no choice.
Set your deadline two days before the actual deadline and work your way as per the plan. You can also create a time tracker that ensures you stay accountable to the task at hand and has that (good) constant pressure on you to finish it.
Technology Is Helpful, But Not Always
Procrastination is a delicate balance between what you are doing and what you should be doing. Bingeing on Netflix while you should be doing taxes is one of the many examples of how you are deploying technology to procrastinate.
As per research, the impact of gadgets on procrastination tendency is 27%, and while for social media, it is 54%.
However, it all depends upon the leverage you wield here. Are you using technology to complete your project? It is reinforcement. Using it to delay your tasks, keep it aside.
Technology, when unlimited, contributes to instant gratification, and perhaps that’s why you find checking your social media accounts more gratifying than finishing your paper.
The best way to negate its impact is to block the sites and channels during your work hours and keep your mute your notifications. Not every ping needs your attention.
The Power Of Will
While we discussed that you need to master the technology to steer clear of procrastination, you need the willpower to become the master here.
More often than not, the will is key to avert any procrastination tendency.
While working for an hour, you might digress for a moment. That moment determines whether you will meet your deadlines or end up digressing.
Self-imposed regulations and deadlines are tough to keep but work like a charm when you want to stay on track with your deadlines.
The foresightedness of planning your day when combined with your willpower to stick to that plan leaves little room for procrastination.
Understand Why You Are Procrastinating
This may seem a little backhanded but understanding the cause behind your procrastination is often half the battle won.
Does the task at hand scare you? Or is it plain boring?
Recognising the drawbacks here is a step towards making the task more approachable as well as enjoyable.
It also helps you organize your task more efficiently and push you towards completing it rather than driving you away from it. You end up being more decisive and more clear-headed while approaching it.
In a few cases, procrastination is more than just a habit. It can be indicative of serious health issues like anxiety, depression or ADHD, to name a few.
While procrastination is bad for your socio-economic life, it also poses a threat to your immune system as it often leads to stress and trouble in sleeping.
Simple tweaks and acknowledgement can go a long way in avoiding procrastination and finding the right balance between being busy and being productive.