- August 4, 2020
You are just about to start working on an important project, only to postpone it for another. Or maybe you stop working on it to focus on a different (mundane) task like clearing out the fridge, running an errand, or checking your phone. If any of this sounds familiar then you’re in the right place. Welcome to what we call ‘procrastinator habits’. They are the small tasks you engage in to avoid doing something really important. If you can indulge and still go back to the task and complete it in time, there is no reason to worry. But if you end up postponing doing something until it is too late, then you are procrastinating. Procrastination is a habit that affects about 25% of the world population with potentially detrimental longterm effects. And here’s why:
Procrastination can sabotage your own success
When procrastination causes you to spend all your time on the mundane instead of putting in some work towards a major life goal, you end up sabotaging your own success. You may not even notice it. In fact, most people don’t realize the harm of their procrastination habit until they look back and notice all the opportunities they missed because they kept putting off the important tasks.
Time is precious. Time is money. Time and tide wait for no man. I could go on and on quoting pithy little sayings about the importance of time. It is the only resource that each one of us gets in equal measure. So when you procrastinate, you are wasting something more precious than even money.
Procrastination creates a cocktail of negative emotions like guilt and self-betrayal which can be even more damaging to your overall mental wellbeing. In fact, procrastination can be linked directly to stress through the self-fulfilment loop. This is where you keep off doing something till the last minute, do it badly, and perform poorly. Because you know you could have done better, you feel terrible and your confidence drops. Low confidence makes it more likely for you to make mistakes in the future and fail again. And on and on the vicious cycle goes.
Why people procrastinate
If procrastination is so bad, why do so many of us do it then? What is it about these mundane jobs that make them more attractive than putting in the work on a critical project?
It is easy to doubt yourself when you are attempting something big, especially when you don’t believe in yourself.
Fear of failure
Nobody wants to fail. It feels bad. But when you let your fear of failure keep you from doing something, you are just letting your self-doubts win. And if it is something you will have to do ultimately, procrastinating only makes it more likely that you will perform badly.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to do something well. It only becomes a problem when it keeps you from actually starting the job. Perfectionists are adept at raising the bar of success higher and higher which give rise to anxiety and makes it easier to procrastinate.
How to stop procrastinating
If you want to live your life to the fullest, then you must figure out a way to overcome that procrastination habit that is holding you back. Below are five proven strategies to do this.
Break down that big project into smaller tasks
A big project can be intimidating. Make it easier for you to accomplish by breaking it down into smaller tasks. As long as you can figure out how to do the first task, this momentum (and the thrill of achievement) will drive you forward. Any project becomes easier to do when you break it down. For example, if your project is to start your own company, you can break that down into; do market research, register the company, hire your first employee, and so on and so forth. Before you know it, you will be celebrating your fifth year of business success.
Build your self-discipline
Self-disciplined people do what is needed of them no matter how challenging it might be or what the alternatives they have. Are you self-disciplined enough to miss a party and put in a few extra hours of work for the sake of your future? Because ultimately, the level of success you will get in life will be directly proportional to the personal sacrifices you are willing to make.
To build self-discipline, you must first understand your level of perseverance. If missing that party will make you grumpy and hinder your ability to work, then don’t even think about missing it. Self-discipline means understanding your productivity capability and working within your abilities. The last thing you want to do is take on more than you can do and end up sabotaging yourself. You can always take on more after succeeding at what you’re good at.
Focus on what you have
Sometimes we procrastinate because we think something is impossible without first getting this or that asset. It is only normal to want to do something with the guarantee of success. But that is just the thing: Success is never guaranteed. You have to learn to deal with the risks and mitigate them. Focus on what you have and work to your strengths. Even if you can only take one step with what you have, do it. Just make sure that you keep taking that one step and, in time, you will get there.
Find your flow
The state of flow is the highest level of productivity you can achieve with a task. It happens when you throw yourself completely into a job, leaving no space for procrastination habits to creep in. And there are no distractions in the flow state. No zoning out and no anxiety. You will be naturally motivated to just do what the task dictates. It is the closest you can get to a guarantee of success on a task.
Find your purpose
If there is one single thing you can do to overcome procrastination, then this would definitely be it. When you are doing something that means a lot to you, you will find that motivation comes naturally. You don’t have to force yourself to do a purpose-driven task because doing it makes you feel happy and fulfilled enough. And if you can make your purpose your job, then you will truly never work a day in your life.
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