How to achieve your goals by Overcoming Procrastination: 5 helpful tips
February 6, 2019
“Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today because if you enjoy it today, you can do it again tomorrow.” James A. Michener
Do you constantly put-off things you really need to do? No matter how organized and committed you are, chances are that sometimes we get carried away engaging in a trivial pursuit such as watching our favourite soap opera, playing video games or updating social media status when we should have been spending that time on working on some project either work or school related.
Procrastination is a challenge that we all face from time to time. Humans generally struggle with avoiding and delaying on issues that most times matter to them. For us to truly get rid of the procrastination habit, then we truly need to get started with the present even though we might not feel like it or have the desired momentum at first, the motivation will always come later if we can start right now.
Think of how relieved, satisfied and accomplished you truly feel each time you actually get that work off your shoulder or finish that project.
psychological researchers now recognize that there’s far more to procrastination than simply putting something off until later or tomorrow. They believed that true procrastination amongst other factors is a complicated failure of self-regulation: these experts define it as the voluntary delay of some important task that is required of us to do, despite knowing that we’ll suffer a setback.
And in addition to that, a poor concept of time and also the inability to manage emotions they say seems to be its very foundation.
If you find yourself procrastinating there are Variety of strategies that you can employ to stop procrastinating and these strategies are outlined below. But first what is the actual meaning of procrastination?
What is Procrastination?
A wise man once said, “Procrastination is the thief of time.” and according to the dictionary definition, it is the act of delaying or postponing something. However you wish to view it, it is the force that prevents you from doing what you are set to do; doing one thing even though you know that you should be doing something else.
But why do we procrastinate?
Well, definitions are good but what’s more important is why do we procrastinate?What is that thing going on in our inside that makes us avoid or delay in the things we know we should be doing?
Behavioural Psychology researchers believe “time inconsistency” is the reason why we procrastinate. And the Economist helps us to fully understand this concept. The concept of time inconsistency they say is the reason why some people procrastinate at work until the last minute.
This phenomenon further explained why we tend to value immediate rewards than futuristic ones. Imagine yourself to be two halves at a certain point in time; Your Real self (Present) and your imaginative self (future).
The Future Self wants to save up for retirement and knows that saving up for retirement at an early life is vital, even though the benefit of doing so is years from now. But the Present Self-values buying a new car or shopping for new clothes than saving up some dollars for when they are way older. But when it comes to making the decision according to research, we are only concerned about our immediate satisfaction which is our present self, and not on some long-term benefit.
So here is the truth of the matter; you tend to be biased in your choice of the decision by leaning more towards your present self because you are in the present and your brain only values immediate or short-term rewards rather than long-term benefits. And even though your brain sees the value in taking actions that will result in that long-term benefits, only your present self can actually take those actions. Hence there is always a conflict between your present and future self.
We have a tendency to focus and care more about what our present self wants simply because we are in the present and not enough about our future selves. We like to enjoy immediate benefits in the present, especially if the costs of our choices don’t become apparent until far in the future.
A quick summary for a better understanding of why we avoid doing the things we know we should do, even when it’s clearly for our own good. Take a look at this scenario made by two Harvard professors Todd Rogers and Max Bazerman which reveals why our brains love to procrastinate
It pays off eating a doughnut (which contains sugar) than it does skipping workouts simply because the effect of skipping workout won’t show up until like a month time.
Spending money today or (buying an iPhone) is immediate and won’t hurt you that much than saving up for future retirement simply because the reality of the future is not in view until years to come.
These following steps can help us with overcoming Procrastination and doing the needful.
Make those long-term decisions more immediate.
The reason why we procrastinate is that our mind focuses only on the present or immediate benefit. If you can find a way to make those long-term decisions more immediate, then you are probably a step closer to avoiding and overcoming procrastination in that area. One way to do this is to simply imagine the benefits your future self will enjoy. Visualize that future investment; what your life will be like at your retirement time. Think about why saving money now is important to your future.
Organize your work into manageable segments
Think about what needs to get done and figure out how you can get it done by drafting it down somewhere and applying some time frame or deadlines to it. Make it specific by breaking down these giant projects into smaller achievable ones. It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to try to do big things all at once and then you stumble.
Start by re-evaluating those goals or project to see if any adjustment or changes need to be made and assess how realistic and attainable they are. Carefully examined those goals to see those unrealistic ones and perhaps postpone them and try to see how you can attain the more realistic ones first and then you can revisit those postponed ones at a later time.
Start with the task you like the best
One of the hardest parts to start a project is to actually start it. But one secret to doing so is to start with what you like the most; this is a great way to actually begin with that project and avoid procrastination. Starting out with those tasks which makes you feel happy can help a great deal to boost your apartheid for completing a task.
When you do something you like the most, your brain releases what is called DOPAMINEa neurotransmitter, one of those chemicals that are responsible for transmitting signals in between the nerve cells (neurons) of the brain. It is released during pleasurable situations and stimulates one to seek out the pleasurable activity or occupation. Aside from that Dopamine is associated with feelings of euphoria, bliss, motivation, and concentration.
Remove procrastination triggers from your environment and start over
The most powerful way to change your behaviour is to change your thinking and environment. It doesn’t take much guesswork to figure out why this is true. In a normal situation, you would prefer eating cookies rather than consuming vegetables. What if the cookie wasn’t there, to begin with? well, the truth is, it is much easier for us to make the right choice when or if we are surrounded by better choices. Remove the distractions from your environment and give room for better choices.
What are these distractions to begin with? actually, some of these distractions are simply caused by stress. What are you stressed about? According to research, stress is one very common factor while we procrastinate. Are you stressed about your finances? Or maybe it’s a health issue or perhaps relationships issues and divorce.
Something definitely is stressing you out if you search within you. This stress issue is what makes us put off the things we know we should do probably because we want to avoid the stress we get each time we think about it or each time we are reminded about it. Clear of this distraction either from your immediate environment or from within yourself and do the needful.
Prepare for obstacles
Things don’t necessarily turn out the way we planned or the way we think they should and that’s life but the truth is with the right mindset, we can always scale through. When we prepare our minds for obstacles and challenges, we tend to handle it well when it eventually comes without putting-off what we are meant to do. It is quite common that when you embark on a particular project you will certainly encounter many challenges and obstacles along that path. Obstacles are part of life which we must encounter for us to succeed and realize our goal.
They make us stronger, so when you are planning next time, prepare for obstacles along your path and ways you can deal with them. Avoid putting-off stuff each time you encounter a little challenge rather look for ways to get them fixed and move on.