We all do it. We’ve all procrastinated and put off the important stuff until the very last minute when we’re up against a deadline. I used to think procrastination gave me the much needed pressure and time crunch to complete projects. I even proudly embraced the title of “expert procrastinator.”
But, in reality, all it gave me was needless stress and circles under my eyes from pulling all-nighters.
At its core, procrastination is simply doing the more pleasurable tasks instead of dealing with the unpleasant ones. You constantly carry out the less urgent chores rather than engage in the activities that you need to do or that could even lead to self-improvement like going to the gym, meal-prepping, fixing that broken kitchen cabinet, or finishing up a work project.
I certainly need all the help I can get in the procrastination department as evidenced by the fact that I am currently writing this article at 2:30am in the middle of the night instead of earlier in the day when I opted to, instead, successfully binge watch what seemed like all of Netflix.
In light of my ill-advised T.V. show marathon, I wanted to figure out how I could break my procrastination habit. I discovered on the Kwik Brain podcast, Jim Kwik dedicated an entire episode to procrastination. Kwik describes procrastination as a “super villain” which breeds feelings of guilt, depression, and self-doubt that can hold you back from accomplishing your goals and moving forward.
So how can you beat this “super villain” and actually stay on task? Here are Kwik’s 5 tips to beat procrastination.
1. Procrastinate about procrastination.
A bit tongue in cheek, but if you’re good at putting things off, try putting off procrastinating. Tell yourself you’ll do it now and avoid work later. Hey, it’s worth a shot.
2. Start somewhere.
This trick is based on the “Zeigarnik Effect” which is the notion that you are much more likely to recall uncompleted tasks than ones you completed. Apparently your brain likes closure. If you don’t finish something, your mind dwells on the unfinished business and nags at you until it’s completed. So once you start a project, no matter how difficult, you’re more likely to finish it.
3. Break it down.
Start small and reduce your task to bite size pieces. Sometimes your goal may feel too big and can become intimidating and overwhelming. So if you have a sink full of dishes, start by washing one. If you want to floss your teeth, start with one tooth. It will be hard to stop at one dish or one tooth. Ask yourself if you can do the task for 10 seconds. Then another 10 seconds. Keep going and before you know it, you’ll have completed your goal.
4. Be kind to yourself.
Guilt and pain do not make you change your behavior. Instead of beating yourself up, forgive, and remind yourself that you’re human and that it happens to the best of us. Then make a plan and try again.
5. Schedule it.
This tip seems obvious. However, even though it may be common sense to schedule projects and tasks, it is not common practice. Actually put it on your calendar and you’ll be more likely to follow through.
Come up with your ‘why’. Your ‘why’ is your purpose and reason for going after your goals. Your ‘why’ is what gives you your drive and energy to take action to tackle and complete your goals no matter what roadblocks appear.
For me, the goal now is to not procrastinate putting into practice the procrastinating tips. So hopefully the next time I write an article, it will actually be at a normal functioning hour and not so absurdly late that I’m able to catch the sunrise.