Am I the only expert on procrastination here? I bet you too.
What time is your ‘Later’? What date is your ‘Tomorrow’? Well, let’s try to check why you’re an expert on procrastination and how you can escape from it.
Has anyone of you snooze their alarm clocks five minutes later after it rang? Then another snooze after the second ring? Do you do the snoozing every day?
That is a sign of procrastination!
Everyone else is struggling with their own self-control. How difficult for you to battle between doing the things that you want and the things that you should or must be doing?
Did you just take another coffee break, believing that it would relax you for a bit before finishing up your report? And did you just realize that you only have a few hours left before the deadline, next off you’re cramming?
Yes, you’re not alone!
Procrastination is the act of setting tasks or obligations at a later date and time. Plus, it is wasting your time and energy on things when you should have done something meaningful in your life.
Is it the same as laziness?
Laziness is not doing anything at all without a guilt feeling or regret after an opportunity had passed. Procrastination, in contrast is having something to do, but there is no motivation to start.
Top 2 Reasons for Procrastination
1. You want to engage yourself in the ‘NOW’
When you have a goal, you have a set of plans. With good intentions, you try to make it work. You practice your brain to focus on the results.
However, most of the time, plans and actions are not the best of friends. While half of your mind does all the planning for your target goal and long-term benefits, half of it focuses on what you are doing right now.
Say your target goal is to lose weight. Half of your mind concentrates on how to become fit in 6 months. Meanwhile, the other portion wants a slice of pizza now.
Similarly, you want to save at least 5% of your salary to start building your own house a few years from now. But then again, there is a 75% off in your favorite clothing shop, and you can’t afford to let the sale pass.
Can you see the difference?
That’s when you procrastinate. It’s time to say, “I will start tomorrow’.
You are indulging so much at the benefit of the moment that you forget the importance of the future.
2. You don’t have a certain amount of motivation
The lack of discipline pushes you away from your directives. It gives you a hard time sticking to a new habit that will define your future.
It lets time slip through your fingers in an instant. By the time you realize all these, you’re already in your death bed.
Don’t let the lack of self-discipline take you on a detour.
With the right type of motivation, you can slowly learn and maintain positive habits.
I have listed 7 simple ways to get your motivation back here to help you control moments of ineffectiveness.
How to Escape from Procrastination
The target goals that you set yesterday are not enough motivation to push you and take action today. If you’re conscious enough to monitor how you procrastinate every day, you can note that you continue setting your tasks day after day.
When you are not getting the desired results or rewards of your goals, this adds up to your daily stresses. So, how do you escape procrastination?
You have to remember that the biggest problem and the most challenging task here is not exactly how you do the process but how you start and maintain the process.
Overcoming procrastination is a skill. You may be learning loads of how-tos like this post, or you might even have a book on how to stop procrastinating, driving motivation, time management, and the like. Until and unless you put these tips to work, it will just be bits of junk in your memory.
1. Hit two birds with one stone using Temptation Bundling Method
Katherine Milkman, an Assistant Professor at The Wharton School of Pennsylvania, introduced the idea of temptation bundling in her novel study of behavioral changes on self-control.
She defines temptation bundling as “the coupling of instantly gratifying “want” with engagement in a “should” behavior that provides long-term benefits but requires the exertion of willpower’.
BUT, it doesn’t mean multitasking – this is on a different level.
What does it exactly mean then?
It is a witty approach that lets you do things that you love or enjoy doing while simultaneously doing the things that you should.
I know, you do things that you regret or feel guilty after like watching your favorite drama series on Netflix instead of hitting the thread mill. As a result, it makes you realize that your productivity dropped for two hours or so instead of working your target goal out.
Let’s get a clearer picture of practicing the temptation bundling method on the below table to avoid procrastination. You can also add as many tasks as you want and try relinking them from time to time.
The point here is to club the task that, one, you enjoy doing and two, your obligation.
Also, do not combine two obligations like listening to an audio on ‘how to effectively create an engaging work report’ while exercising.
That is not effective at all. Don’t you think?
Most importantly, make a rule, put a limit, stick to it, and practice before it backfires on you.
2. Be strict to yourself and follow a Commitment Device
Behavioral change is an activity you most lose control of. Setting your goals is easy, starting it is exciting, but maintaining it? Daringly challenging!
To keep you motivated and be on track, try a strategy called a commitment device.
A commitment device is a choice of action you take today that controls or restricts your behavior for a specific long-term goal in the future.
I listed a few samples of a commitment device ideas which you may want to modify accordingly.
a. Play your favorite game if you hit your goal. Uninstall the application if you don’t.
b. Allow yourself one full movie on Netflix if you hit your goal. Don’t open Netflix if you don’t.
c. Browse into your social media accounts if you hit your goal. Forget signing in if you don’t.
However, note that the above conditions depend on rewards and penalties. When you are trying to change your behavior, don’t focus on the negative results. Aim to avoid these kinds of commitments.
Try a different approach with a few of the samples listed below instead. I want to start with my own example.
I created several blogs with the free version of Blogspot and WordPress a few years ago. This time, I shelled out a self-hosting site for this website for a year instead of opting for the free version of WordPress. As a result, it keeps me motivated to achieve my goal of publishing two blog articles per week.
Now, it’s your turn:
a. Pay for a full year gym membership instead of monthly passes
b. Buy food in small portions instead of in bulk; until unless it is an everyday necessity
c. Automate your salary transfer to your savings or investments account
d. Use debit cards instead and ditch credit cards
e. Place your alarm clock 2 meters away from you
f. Buy a piggy bank in which you have to destroy it to get your savings
g. Cancel your TV services
3. Develop feasible listicles and direct it to the possibility of forming a new or additional habit
Create a to-do list. Not just a simple to-do list where you keep adding tasks every day but keep on procrastinating it time and again until you give up. I’ve done that. And it doesn’t work, at least for me.
Instead, make a to-do list TODAY, with time stamps and deadlines. Would it be more productive if your deadline is ‘today at 1:00 PM’ instead of ‘sooner or later today?
This technique lets you decide which task to prioritize. Also, it helps you distribute your time accurately, letting you focus on further important objectives.
If you are pleased with the listicles and if it goes along well with your everyday schedule, it’s time to advance it into a habit. Plan your everyday listicle and keep track of which task is best to do on which time.
Determine your productivity pattern and schedule. For example, I am able to write effectively during the early hours of the day when I can only hear the taps on my keyboard. I stop writing whenever the allotted time is complete regardless of what I accomplished. This way, I will not compromise the time reserved for other works.
I do, however, get back to the unfinished task whenever I have spare time.
Above all, practice.
After some time, you can now focus on planning your long-term goals. Devote a day for you to analyze your growth base on these listicles. Along with it, check which aspect you can improve further on and develop a strategy. You can even recreate your list for better productivity.
4. Reward yourself every time you avoid procrastination
In dog shows, if the owner asks the dog to roll over and he does, the owner rewards him with treats. He asks the dog to jump and he does, an extra treat.
The same behavior works with human beings, as well. There are several ways you can reward yourself. It doesn’t have to be lavish and expensive. Check out on the few notes below:
a. Pat yourself. There’s no one else to do this for you other than yourself. Don’t expect praise from others. If you think you did your task right, acknowledge it. A silent ‘Good job, girl!’ goes a long way.
b. Keep track of the accomplishment list. Remember when your teacher sticks a star or a smiley face in your notebook whenever you get a ‘very good’ grade during grade school?
In like manner, you need something like a recognition of what you’ve done. Along with your to-do today list, add another column for an accomplishment list.
Put a star of whichever list you completed well – with quality and on time. And for the unaccomplished tasks, put a grumpy face.
Who wants a grumpy face in their accomplishment list? Of course, you don’t!
c. Pick your favorites. It would be useless to reward yourself onto something that doesn’t appeal to you.
You like chocolates? Take a bite if you managed to close your Facebook tab, and eventually finishing your task.
Furthermore, choose rewards that you are likely to regret if you didn’t accomplish it. This way, you will learn to exert more effort in doing your tasks.
It’s easier said than done, so they say. But if I may say, FOCUS is the key.
Have you noticed the boards in between horses at the starting line of a racing track in an equestrian performance?
These boards help the horses to focus on their designated tracks that direct them to the main goal. Additionally, it helps them stray away from the distractions of other horses.
Similarly, to succeed in not being an expert on procrastination, you should put a limit on the distractions of the outside world.
Over to you
Earlier, I mentioned that the most challenging task is how you start and maintain avoiding procrastination. Even if you have a firm intention of turning your back on procrastination, sometimes, you still fail along the way.
Why? Would you mind sharing your experiences in the comment box below? Let’s try to talk through it and come up with a solution together.