how to fight procrastination

Nip procrastination in the bud

The first step to fighting procrastination is to accept you're doing it. If you're honest with yourself, you will know when you're procrastinating, and understanding the reasons behind it can help you stop it in its tracks.

It’s 7:50 am, and the clock is ticking away. You have to leave at 8, but you’ve not even showered yet. You’re running around trying to quickly get ready, all along kicking yourself for wasting so much time watching those kitten videos on loop.

Such scenarios, where we leave everything until the last minute are quite frequent in our lives.

Even for mundane chores, we delay them until they become a necessity. Whether it is reading a book, finishing laundry, visiting a dentist, or learning to play an instrument, somehow, we are always surrounded by unfinished tasks. Pushing everything to tomorrow or ‘hopefully soon’ is usually what we all do. We have gotten into a lifelong relationship with what should have been our enemy—procrastination. And ironically, we have been procrastinating this fight with procrastination for too long.

Many of us are trapped in the vicious cycle of procrastination. We postpone something important, hurriedly finish it at the last moment, promise to never let it happen again, and repeat. According to eminent researcher and speaker, Piers Steel, about 95 percent of us are victims of this “self-regulatory failure” to some degree. Procrastination is one of the biggest hindrances to moving ahead in life and achieving our goals.

The first step to fighting procrastination is to accept you’re doing it. If you’re honest with yourself, you will know when you’re procrastinating, and understanding the reasons behind it can help you stop it in its tracks. Be mindful and aware of what you’re doing when procrastinating. This simple activity will help you refocus, align your priorities, and improve productivity immediately.

But, the main question is, why do we procrastinate?

In this article, Soulveda looks at why procrastination happens and explores strategies for managing and prioritising your workload more effectively.

Self-doubt is one of the biggest reasons why people tend to not pursue their interests or complete the tasks at hand.

Idling away

At times, loafing about is what leads to that mountain of undone tasks. We spend our time watching TV or scrolling through different social media platforms, wasting precious hours carelessly. Meanwhile, the task at hand gets delayed indefinitely.

Here is a trick. Why don’t you use the carrot and stick approach? Promise yourself a reward for every task completed and soon enough you’ll find yourself looking forward to completing the tasks you once pushed away.

Uninteresting tasks

Some activities just don’t seem appealing. If the nature of the task is difficult, boring or unpleasant, it becomes easy for us to postpone it. It could be going to the gym, making PowerPoint presentations for work, cutting vegetables or buying groceries.

However mundane the activity, there is always a way to make things interesting. Once something turns interesting, it is easier to deal with. Why not put on some music, turn it into a game, find someone to accompany you, or get a friendly competitor?

Impractical goals

Sometimes, we set unrealistic and vague goals for ourselves. Resolving to “get fit” and “read books” are vague goals, which make it easy to procrastinate on them. When the target looks unreachable, dropping it midway is a natural impulse.

Why not break the goal down into achievable tasks? A goal such as “go to the gym on Monday, Wednesday and Friday” is more concrete, so is “read one chapter every night before bed”. Such a tangible approach is more likely to lead you to take action.

Self-doubt

Often, people procrastinate because they fear negative feedback, judgement and failure. Self-doubt arises from the fear of failure. For instance, someone might delay publishing a poem they’ve diligently worked on, all because they’re worried what others might think or say about it.

Self-doubt is one of the biggest reasons why people tend to not pursue their interests or complete their tasks at hand. We’d rather put off the job than fail at it. When we procrastinate, the fear becomes monumental and a rather simple task seems humongous.

Stand up to your fear and get right down to it. Think of it this way, what’s the worst that can happen?

Excessive preparation

We wish for perfection in all the tasks we undertake. But in order to achieve perfection, we indulge in excessive preparation at times. Getting stuck on one task, taking too long to finish it and leaving other activities pending leads to an overall delay in everything. Worrying too much, doubting yourself, and revisiting the same task repeatedly can lead to demotivation and undue stress.

Don’t forget that perfection is subjective. So trust your abilities, stop questioning each move, set a standard and stick to it.

Don’t nitpick. Trust yourself, you’re fine.

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