If you have procrastinated and felt bad about yourself – then stop!
This is the first piece of advice I can give you.
Mean to stop procrastination?
No I mean, stop beating yourself up for procrastinating.
We all have been doing it and probably still do.
Who am I?
I am not a psychologist, nor a physician to give you a recommendation. That is why this article is solely about my opinion about procrastination and here I explain how I deal with it.
I am a person who has created this website and went through an emotional rollercoaster and have dealt with procrastination for more than a year (full-time)
I don’t want to bother you with all the details, so let’s get right into it.
Let’s start at the end.
How do we know that we have won the fight against procrastination?
Look at yourself a year ago or 2 years ago and compare it with today.
Is there progress? Did you accomplish any of your goals, or at least did you get closer to them?
This can measure how well we deal with procrastination.
And here is something concrete:
The number of written words since the end of 2017:
In February of 2018 I set up this website and I decided to create at least 3 articles per week (approximately 3,000 words per week). That was supposed to be a consistent activity.
But it was far from it.
At the beginning of 2019, I realized that most of the year I did almost nothing.
Back in 2018 – Was I lazy?
No, I was still at my 9-5, and I also created a schedule regarding my website…. but I couldn’t get into that.
I remember driving around in my car, visualizing how I am gonna sit in front of my laptop and start writing.
I got home and instead of doing research and creating the content, I was checking Facebook, watching youtube, chatting with people I don’t even know…
Long story short;
In 2019 I freaked out and said to myself that I can’t have another 2018 when it comes to activity.
So as painful as it was I decided to do something with my site – I started to do research and slowly step by step I got to the point when I was able to write a 700-word article.
It did not go easy, but somehow I pushed through.
I have trained my brain so he does not see the process of content creation as a painful experience,
What is Procrastination (By Definition)
Some people (and even psychologists) call it laziness.
Procrastination is not laziness.
Lazy people do not even try to accomplish something.
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of us are lazy, but what I have in mind is the kind of people who do not even move from the sofa for an entire day.
You know what I mean and if you are reading this, it is definitely your case.
According to Wikipedia, Procrastination “is the action of delaying or postponing something.”
On the other hand, procrastination is an activity we choose to do, instead of doing what we originally planned.
Let’s take an example:
(and if you have written an essay or a short article, you know what I am about to mention).
When it comes to writing, our brain goes 100 miles per hour, trying to find something “more important” than writing.
So we go to wash the dishes, or the cloth, we need to call a friend, or check Facebook, Twitter, maybe the news, right?
Why it is happening?
The main reason is that our brain wants to do what is pleasurable at that specific moment. (Actually, we can train our brain to feel good in an uncomfortable situation, but it takes time).
So instead of the pain that is associated with writing, we want to do more pleasurable things, and thus we procrastinate.
If you think about that it is really about what our brain associates pain and pleasure to.
And if this sounds familiar to you, good for you. You have also probably heard of the Tony Robbins Personal Power II program.
Basically, we can deal with any situation once we learn how to associate:
- massive pain to not performing
- a pleasure to solving the issue (or doing the task).
Why Do We Procrastinate and How do Deal with Procrastination?
There are many reasons why we procrastinate.
Here are the typical reasons.
If you know why you procrastinate and you don’t find your reason in the list, please let us know using the comment section below.
1) You think the task is too complicated
This is a common reason even though it is not true.
We only guess that that task is too complicated. But in reality, we have gone through a lot more difficult tasks already.
What to do?
- Break the task into 3 or 5 different parts
- Work only 15 minutes and give yourself a break. Repeat and once you see slight progress, the complicated task will change to less complicated.
- Take a walk in fresh air and “lightly” think about your project – do not overwhelm yourself with the thought process; rather let the thoughts flow while you are walking.
So what else it could be?
2) Lack of motivation?
We don’t have a reason to finish the task.
This can have really serious consequences.
I mean, there is nothing worse than being too complacent. It can ruin your career, or whatever you wish to accomplish.
Here is what to do:
- Change your environment.
- Move to a different city.
- Meet with other people.
- Try to do something in a different way.
- Read a book on personal development or listen to an audiobook that can motivate you.
Pick any of these and you start thinking in a different way. In other words, you will broaden your horizons.
Let’s assume that we are motivated to achieve something.
What is another reason?
3) You think you are not good enough to complete the task (lack of self-confidence)
This can be related to the 1st reason, but it is not the same.
Ask yourself a question:
Where is this opinion coming from?
I have not even tried and I already think that I am not good enough? It does not make any sense.
Just start working on the task and you learn as you go.
Certainly, you know the saying:
What to do?
- Realize that nobody is perfect and we all have some issues
- Take a deep breath and try to be focused on the task as much as possible (meditate if necessary, so you calm your brain down).
4) Hitting the roadblock
Let’s say we have already started and did some progress already.
But what to do when we hit the roadblock?
While working on the task, there is this micro problem we are suddenly facing.
We actually struggle to deal with and again – this is room for our brains to seek pleasure (in other words to put off the task).
What to do?
- It is essential to associate pleasure with a finished task and pain with not a finished task.
- Do more research about the given task (Youtube, check Google News.)
- If you are working in the office with other people, talk to them, try to gain more information
5) We rely on others
In case we are working on a problem as a team, we tend to wait for feedback from a colleague. It is “convenient” to wait since we can do more pleasurable stuff.
This can be counterproductive and if we assume that even the other part procrastinates, the task will never be finished.
What to do?
- Go talk to your colleague/supervisor and elaborate on the assignment again and have clear tasks assigned to each member of the team.
- Ask for more questions
6) Too audacious goals
People do mistakes while setting their goals too high.
Then if they don’t achieve them obviously they feel bad about themselves and often they end up quitting.
What to do?
- Have realistic goals, or even set short-term goals, so you can achieve them easily
- Rewards yourself for achieving small goals
- Realize that there is no one else who can help you to achieve these goals.
We tend to put off the task, simply because we feel anxious about the task.
At the end of the day, nothing is done and we start to feel even more anxious about that.
This can easily result in some kind of loop where we procrastinate simply because we feel anxious, and we feel anxious simply because of our procrastination.
What to do?
First of all, ask yourself, do you get enough sleep, I mean at least 7 hours per day?
Ideally 8, and if you don’t try to have a power nap in the afternoon for 10 to 20 minutes.
Make sure to eat well. Do not abuse alcohol.
The best way to stop the anxiety is to change the mindset:
- Go jogging, swimming
- Go to the sauna
- Read a good book
I love to go hiking or at least to spend 2 hours in nature. If you live in a city, go to the gym or exercise in some way.
Regarding the book, I currently read the 12 Rules for Life by Dr. Jordan Peterson.
Check the price of the book on Amazon:
What Else Can We Do?
When we do stuff that is in our comfort zone, everything goes smoothly.
The number of activities within the comfort zone is different for everybody.
There are people who are afraid of driving a car, for others, it is pleasurable and relaxing.
Expand our comfort zone?
This would be a very good solution, but most of the time it takes time, (a month or even years) to expand our comfort zone to a desirable level.
But the one who does not start barely achieves something.
Very often people who start to expand their comfort zone find a new meaning of life, their anxiety level goes down and they feel like they have more energy.
Many people want to explore what is beyond their comfort zone and for some, it is a pleasurable thing.
They probably have less tendency to procrastinate than I do.
Set A Timer
If you have a specific task, that you need to finish, set a timer. It may not help you in 100% of cases, but we try to decrease this devil-causing procrastination as much as possible.
I use the Egg-Timer, but there are many others you can search for.
I know that once I put a timer for 45 minutes I know that I must work continuously.
Do I feel in a 5th minute to go check Facebook?|
Sure I want – but I won’t, since I know there is a timer.
Too Much Time vs. Sense of Urgency
Do I have an entire day to finish a simple task?
Oh, it is ok to put it off – there is plenty of time, right?
Well in theory, yes, but let’s take a look at the opposite scenario:
At 12 o clock, I am leaving for a trip and I now must complete the task.
Obviously, this person jumps out of the bed earlier and by 11 he is finished with the task.
What does it mean?
That sometimes (or in most cases) we can accomplish much more once there is a sense of urgency.
Before we wrap it up let me share with you one video where Tim Urban (master procrastinator) is explaining what is going on in our mind:
(Don’t worry, it is very well explained:))
Now creating this article about procrastination was actually fun ( …sure, that there are better things to do, but still 🙂 )
Let me be honest with you – I did procrastinate a bit while creating this content.
It is actually a normal thing.
What is important is how to deal with it.
We have covered some specifics techniques or recommendations.
We are individuals and we all have different issues, hobbies, discipline, and goals and thus different reasons why we procrastinate.
Remember in the paragraph above we have mentioned that our brain searches for pleasure and tries to avoid the pain.
Learn how to link pleasure with having a job done and pain with procrastination.
Tony Robin’s Personal Power 2, has helped me a lot, and I think it is one of the best programs for personal development. (It is probably available on youtube as well).
Here is a small part of Tony’s program that concerns procrastination:
Procrastination is nothing but a ritual. Here’s how to overcome it.
1. Find out how you create the ritual.
2. If you don’t do this, what will be the ultimate price you’ll have to pay?
3. If you’d already gotten this done, how would your life be better? How
much more joy would you have?
4. Develop the habit of saying, “I want to…” instead of “I have to…”
5. Develop the habit of moving your body to interrupt the pattern of
If you have questions or you want to share how you have dealt with procrastination feel free to use the comment section below.
I will make sure to give you feedback within 24 hours.
Thank you for reading
Mike (who almost won the procrastination award) 🙂