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Procrastination. We all do it — and we all hate it. What’s worse is that often we can’t even control it. We know we’re procrastinating, but we just can’t get up and do anything. If you want to stop procrastinating, it’s going to take some work. You’re going to have to change the way that you think; you’re going to have to alter your habits. Essentially, you’re going to have to learn to procrastinate on procrastinating.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
Is procrastination normal? Absolutely. But getting rid of procrastination and bad habits starts out with figuring out why we’re doing it. One of the most frustrating things is that we often procrastinate on things that we have no real reason to procrastinate on. It’s something easy and simple that we could do, but we simply don’t do it. Usually, it’s because of one of the following situations:
- We are overwhelmed. You’ve got to clean the house. But where do you get started? Everything’s a mess. It can be easy to avoid a task simply because it seems to be so difficult. If you don’t know where to start, you can easily convince yourself not to get started.
- We are mentally exhausted. Even something small can feel so very difficult when you’re stressed and tired. Yes, you may need to call the utility company — but you already made a dozen calls today at work. It’s all about the amount of emotional energy we have, even if we have the physical energy.
- We are distracted. Look: it’s a world with streaming video. We are constantly inundated with distractions from all angles, and it’s very easy to procrastinate if you’re already doing something else. Even watching a video means that your mind is already occupied, and therefore it’s difficult to think of taking on another task.
- We are used to it. Perhaps the most dangerous reason we procrastinate is simply because it’s become a habit. People have to do things about a dozen or two dozen times for it to become a habit… and how many times have you procrastinated in your life? At this point, it may simply be what you’re used to doing.
Sometimes it’s really just a matter of momentum. We get lazy and complacent. But really, our minds are protecting us, aren’t they? After all, if we were in a survivalist situation, we would want to conserve as much energy as possible! In that sense, we can say that procrastinators are really just sensible survivors.
Tips to Beat Procrastination
OK: so procrastination is natural. But that doesn’t mean we can just roll over and accept it. Even if we really want to. Procrastination often requires trying a lot of different things… and it often requires a lot of work over a long period of time. But it’s by far worth it; you’ll be happier and more productive once you’re done. Here are some tips for beating procrastination.
- Break the cycle. We often get stuck in a loop. We will watch just one more television show. We’ll play just one more round of a great game. Instead of letting ourselves do “just one more,” we should consciously break the cycle; we should make a decision to stop at a reasonable time.
- Give yourself “rewards.” Part of the problem has to do with the human brain itself. Something pleasurable, such as watching a video, triggers the “satisfaction” part of your brain. If you’re already getting satisfaction, why do any hard work? Trick your brain by rewarding yourself after you’ve completed things.
- Try a productivity method. There are many productivity methods out there, such as the Pomodoro Technique, which may be useful to you. But everyone is different. You may need to try a lot of different techniques before one actually sticks.
- Take care of yourself. As mentioned, a lot of people procrastinate because there are other things going on in their life. They simply don’t have the mental energy available for the work. By taking care of your mental and physical health — in particular, getting enough sleep — you can make the call of procrastination far less alluring.
- Get organized. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, that means that you need to get things in order. Break large tasks into smaller “to do” tasks so that you can tackle things one small, manageable piece at a time. The clearer your tasks are, the more appealing they will be.
Often, getting rid of procrastination means addressing the reason for your procrastination. If you’re distracted, you need to remove the distractions. If you’re tired, you may need to change some elements of your lifestyle. And, if you’re overwhelmed, you need to get a bit more organized. You can start improving upon your organization right now with our free, printable to do lists; particularly the weekly chores roster and the stress management lists.