Procrastination is just one of these things you have to find a way to beat to have the life you want.
Yes, I said it. You have to do it. And by you, I mean everyone – me, for example.
I was supposed to write this article two days ago. What was I doing that day? I was watching useless Youtube videos.
Procrastination is on the top of my things-to-overcome list – among a couple of others. The last few years, though, I’ve done some progress. I’ve come to understand it better and I’ve learned more about it. I’ve discovered a few ways how to fight procrastination.
Let me share them with you!
Why Do We Procrastinate
Let’s talk first a little about why we procrastinate.
What I didn’t understand at first is that not everyone does it for the same reasons. And that makes sense; we’re all different from each other. The most “popular” causes I’ve seen are:
- Fear of failure
- Bad planning
- Lack of motivation
Ways To Beat Procrastination
Each cause needs a different approach, so let’s see each one on its own. If it’s difficult to find out which ones make you procrastinate, read about all of them. At least one of them will make you say: “Yep, that’s me!”.
Of course, you can have more than one. I have at least two of them.
Cause 1: Fear of Failure
Failing is always a little intimidating. But the thing is: Everything is a matter of perspective. So let’s look at this from a different angle.
Failing is an opportunity for improvement. And yes, it took me years to learn to accept that. But now I’ve come to believe that you can learn more from failing that you can learn from success. Success leaves you the way you were before; failure can get you to a better place. If you learn from your mistakes, you become better.
But let’s say that you don’t get anything useful from failing, all right? If you don’t try, you’ve already failed. So how does this help you?
So obviously, we don’t fear failure per se. Otherwise, we’d try our best not to fail. We fear that we’ll get rejected. That someone else will judge our work or even us and find us lacking.
And now is the question: Whom do you try for? Them or you?
I’d like to believe that you’ll say that you do it for you.
How To Fight It
Change your mindset!
Yes, it doesn’t sound very easy, but this is the way to go. You have to change the way you think of the next project, the next challenge.
It’s all up to you! So, stop thinking of the excuses you’ve used so far because you’ve been afraid of what the result will be. Learn to fail. It’s a terrifying concept if you haven’t failed big in your life, but no matter what, you will fail eventually. The best you can do about it is to stand up and be stronger. Learn from it and move on.
And if you have tried your best, there’s no reason to fear failure. Because after you’ve done your best, it’s out of your hands.
Cause 2: Perfectionism
This isn’t a very obvious cause, but if you’re a perfectionist – which is not as cool as it sounds – you’ll get it. It’s difficult to start something when you’re trying for perfect.
Where do you start from? How can you do something so well that it will be considered perfect? And perfect, by whose standards? Perfection can be very intimidating… And when we’re talking about creative projects, there’s always room for improvement.
Let’s say that you want to write your next article. You write it, you edit it and you believe it’s ready. If you give it to a thousand people, you’ll get 1000 different opinions about it. Some good, some bad. But all of them different.
What you have to realise is: There is no such thing as perfection. You can always improve something. Make it a little bit better.
So, aim for something great, but learn to accept something that is good enough to meet your standards and the standards of your client/boss – if you work for someone else.
Because here is the problem. When trying to be perfect obstructs you from completing or even starting the current project, then something’s very wrong. After all, done is better than perfect. 😉
How To Fight It
I don’t think I’m a perfectionist, but I do tend to try for more than I should. The solution I have found to this kind of procrastination is to say to myself: “This is not the final version. You’ll change it on the way.”.
Even though, I know that I won’t – at least for a lot of time – it does work. At least, it works enough for me to start the task. And after starting, it’s okay. The task is ALWAYS easier than I thought and the work is more fun. It’s like the more I wait, the harder it seems. But after I start, everything seems easier.
*Of course, don’t take this as advice to do sloppy work. We don’t strive for perfection but we do strive for excellence.
Cause 3: Bad Planning
Or no planning, at all. I’m not even sure which is worse.
This cause appears a lot along with the previous one. You have something to do – a project of some sorts. It’s a lot of work and you don’t know where to start. So… what do you do?
You sit watching TV or… doing housework or… deleting spam emails or… anything else so you won’t have to start the project. Usually, it’s the second for me. My house has never been cleaner than when I have to start a new project!
But, there are two things wrong with this way of thinking and acting. First, you’ll have to do the project, eventually. And when you start, you’ll have less time until the deadline, so you’ll do a sloppy job – or at least a less good that you could have done.
Second, all the time you spend procrastinating, you’ll be playing in the “dark playground”. (Watch the video above to get the reference. 😀 )
How To Fight It
The problem here is that the project seems enormous. But what if it wasn’t?
Sit down and write about the main project you have: In this case, let’s say you have to write your next post. Break the task to a few main steps. In this case, I’ll break it in 4 steps:
- After Writing
- After Publishing
Then split each step in smaller ones. Here are my steps:
- Find the topic.
- Make a first plan of what you want to write.
- Outline the post.
- Create a first draft of the post.
- Write the post.
- Edit the post.
- Check for spelling or grammatical errors.
- Add Images.
- Create a Featured Image for the post.
- Add a video if you find something useful.
- Find the title.
- Add any relevant links.
- Share it on social media.
- Put it on the menu – optional.
- Submit it to Google and/or Bing so it gets indexed faster.
Yes, now it may seem more work (from one task, now I have 15), but most of the steps are easy to do. And when you make your plan, you can use it every time. This is a checklist, so you can put a check next to each item when you’re finished with it so that you can visually see your progress while working through your project. Talk about motivation!
And you don’t have to limit yourself in these two phases. Split your steps as many times as you want. Try to keep each step small enough to be completed in 10-15 minutes.
By the way, this is not my full checklist. Just a small example to show you how I do it. If you want the full version, check it out.
Cause 4: Laziness
In my opinion, this is the hardest one to deal with. When you have something specific to fight, it’s easier to do it. But what can you do when you just don’t feel like doing anything?
First, you have to make sure it’s laziness. Not tiredness, not sleepiness and definitely not a breakdown. If you have worked like crazy for the last month with 4-hour-per-day sleep breaks, then suddenly not wanting to do anything could be your body telling you that you need to stop.
Now, if you’re sure it’s laziness – you’ll be sure it’s laziness when you start watching random Youtube videos that you’d never watch if you didn’t have something else to do – there is one thing you can do to overcome this. You need to strengthen your self-discipline.
Easy-peasy, right? 🙄
How To Fight It
It’s not easy to master self-discipline but it’s definitely worth the time to do it. What’s cool with self-discipline is that the most you exercise it, the easiest it becomes to use it.
So, try to start from little things. Refuse a dessert the next time someone suggests/proposes it to you. Get up the moment the alarm clock goes off. Start exercising. Start a hobby you wanted for a while and stick to it.
I think this video will help you:
Now, why is self-discipline important? Because it’s essential to this little exercise.
Stay for a couple of hours on your bed without doing anything – just stare at the ceiling. I bet you’ll feel very motivated after a while to do just about anything.
But you have to commit to it. If you get up from the bed, you’ll do only what you have to do. You won’t watch a video or read a book, or call a friend or go for a coffee or whatever other excuses you find to procrastinate.
By the way, I still haven’t mastered this but I’m working on it. It has given me some wonderful results so far – along with some disasters. 😛
Another way I found around this, it’s by doing a very little part of the task I’m supposed to be doing. If it’s exercising, I’ll do 10 squats. If it’s writing a post, I’ll find the topic. If it’s doing housework, I’ll wash the dishes – which I kind of like, for some reason. I’ll choose one thing just to get the momentum going.
Try it out and let me know how it works for you!
Cause 5: Lack of Motivation
Sometimes, we don’t want to start something because we don’t feel that it’s worth the effort. The satisfaction of doing it is just not great enough.
You won’t be rewarded if you clean your house so what’s the reason to do it? In any case, it’ll be dirty after a couple of days, so what does it matter?
This usually applies to these little tasks we keep putting off. Cleaning the house, throwing old clothes, chasing a dream…
Yes, even pursuing a dream offers little reward when it’s not specified. But that’s a topic for another day.
How To Fight It
Create a reward for the task you want to do. For example, say that if you clean your house today, you’ll have the rest of the day off. Or you’ll treat yourself to something. Maybe, you’ll buy something you wanted for a while. It doesn’t have to be something huge; just something to make you get up and do what you have to do.
Do this for each little – or big – thing you want to accomplish and you don’t feel like starting it. It’ll create extra motivation for you to do it.
Procrastination can be the source of a lot of stress and misery in your life. So finding a way to get rid of it is essential. This doesn’t mean that it’s easy or that you’ll find a way to do it fast. But little by little, you’ll get better and even if you don’t overcome it completely, you’ll find ways to work around it.
Let me know what you think about procrastinating. What way have you found to beat procrastination?
If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer! Any suggestions are always welcome, so tell me about topics you’d like me to write.
And if you liked this, check out how to get rid of stress. I think you’ll find it useful.
See you next time!