This article on how to stop procrastination is a continuation of the article The Trap of Self-Sabotage, make sure you didn’t miss it. I’ve already explained it there that procrastination is self-sabotage and self-sabotage is learned behavior. It means that self-sabotaging behavior worked for us at some point in the past, so we keep turning to it in similar situations.
Contents of this article:
- Procrastination meaning
- Who are procrastinators
- Reasons for procrastination
- How to stop procrastination
Procrastination stands for delaying or postponing a task usually because the task is unpleasant, boring, overwhelming, or useless. Other numerous reasons for procrastination are discussed below.
Procrastination is what hinders us from achieving our big long-term goals. Procrastination is what doesn’t let us make our dreams come true. Procrastination makes us prioritize not important and not urgent tasks over important ones. Procrastination is a very serious and dangerous problem for everyone who doesn’t want to live a mediocre life full of regrets. Read till the end to learn how to stop procrastination until it’s too late. Stop procrastinating until it has shattered all of your dreams into pieces.
Who are procrastinators?
We’re used to thinking that procrastinators are students who postpone a project preparation till the very last minute or people who surf the Internet for hours instead of working or people who start a cleaning instead of doing a more important task but procrastinators are also people who postpone an unpleasant phone call, or postpone making an appointment with a doctor, or people working 9 to 5 at a regular job instead of starting a business they’ve been dreaming about for years. Yes, it turns out that diligent employees who show up on time and always meet deadlines at work are procrastinators too if their routine work is what they choose every single day instead of doing the most important things in their lives they never have the courage for.
Reasons for procrastination
Lack of self-confidence
Sometimes we just can’t feel confident because some task is new to us. This is a completely normal situation which doesn’t necessarily mean that you lack self-esteem. I explain the difference between confident people and unconfident people in detail here. In this case, some people may want to postpone completing the task they don’t feel confident about.
However, in other cases, low self-esteem is to blame for procrastination. In this case, an unconfident person has not only fear of trying something new but also fear of many other things which he or she may have done numerous times before. Here is my article on how to be more confident and succeed in life.
Lack of self-confidence or low self-esteem may make some people fear failure or, on the opposite, fear success.
Fear of failure
Fear of failure is what makes many people postpone important things in their lives. The task seems so overwhelming that it’s difficult, especially for someone with low self-esteem, to believe that it’s possible to achieve success.
Fear of success
Another reason for procrastination related to lack of confidence and low self-esteem is fear of success. Yes, it happens too and it’s more complex than the fear of failure.
We may fear success because we subconsciously don’t want those things success brings with it. For example, in our mind we can draw pictures of success, so success for us can be associated with higher responsibility, more working hours, less free time, more stress, big money we don’t know how to deal with, more travelling you’ve always dreamed about (but, for example, you are afraid of flying), etc. There are thousands of other examples why you may fear success and I’m sure deep down you know your true reasons for it if that is your case.
When a task is too simple, too dull or possesses no value to us, we feel bored. Our brain wants fun instantly and forever. Some people have learned to control their urge for fun here and now, while others still prefer instant gratification.
Lack of skills or understanding
When a task is too difficult for us, some of us will postpone it till the very last minute and until that moment we will be surfing the Internet; scrolling Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook feed; watching Youtube; cleaning our apartment; decluttering our wardrobe; organizing photos, etc. instead of doing what is needed.
Unpleasant or stressful task
Who wants to do something that causes stress? No one. People who have more self-control, can pull themselves together and eat “the frog” as early as possible. Others choose to delay the unpleasant task until the task becomes super urgent and can no longer be delayed.
Task holds no value
Let’s be honest, there’re tasks we just don’t care about because they are irrelevant to us. There’re also tasks that are absolutely useless. It may be difficult to make yourself accomplish tasks that hold little or no value.
Not feeling valued for performing the task
When a person relies on extrinsic motivation (in simple words, wants to get external rewards such as praise, promotion, pay rise, award, etc.) and doesn’t feel valued for performing some task, it may become a reason for procrastination. “Why should I do this if no one cares anyway?”
Lack of intrinsic motivation
If getting a reward is the only thing that motivates us to do something important, it means we lack intrinsic motivation. It’s neither good nor bad, it’s just a fact. Intrinsic motivation means we do something because we enjoy it irrespective of whether we will be praised or rewarded for it in any way or not.
If extrinsic motivation (external rewards) is the only thing that keeps you going, it may be difficult for you to do some tasks which don’t imply an instant reward. For example, it may be difficult for such a person to start a long-term project which may not bring any impressive results at all or bring them in the distant future which can’t be foreseen.
Many people don’t have this intrinsic motivation, so they choose to stay where they can get extrinsic motivation. For example, working at a boring job they don’t enjoy because they are motivated by money.
Lack of focus
Some articles link procrastination due to lack of focus to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but just lack of focus or being distracted too easily doesn’t mean that you have ADHD, so relax. If you don’t have trouble understanding details of a task, if you can follow instructions for a task, if you don’t forget details and don’t switch activities too often because you easily become bored, you are probably just bored.
Perfectionists require approval and praise and are afraid to get negative feedback or fail. However, as a neurotic perfectionist in the past, I can say that the drive for perfectionism is curable. First, try to improve your self-esteem and learn to care less about what others may think of you. No one cares about your mistakes as much as you do.
How to stop procrastination
Commit to success
Your success not only in terms of a particular task but also in general, your success in life, depends on actions you make to achieve it. Rome wasn’t built in a day and so is your success. It’s either you want to stay where you are in life and never achieve anything more because of giving in to your weakness – procrastination, or you can choose to start making at least small steps towards your goal. It’s YOUR choice. You are the only person responsible for your life.
Set attainable goals
Sometimes we want to get everything at once, so we set unrealistic goals. Later we understand that the goal is hard to reach, so we become disappointed and less motivated. Unrealistic goals may even make us want to give up.
If the goal you want to achieve is huge and long-term, break it into smaller steps. Everyday make a step that gets you closer to your long-term goal.
Break work into smaller pieces
If it seems too difficult to focus and complete a task at one time, break it into smaller pieces. Small progress is still progress.
Log out of all social networks that usually distract you
Log out of Instagram, Facebook, etc. Set time limits for Youtube and other websites and social networks where your procrastinate most often. You may even need to delete their apps from your phone.
Social networks may seem as a more interesting alternative to work that needs to be done, however, on the other hand, people who get work done and achieve their goals live more fulfilled lives and make their dreams come true, while people who procrastinate – watch those making their dreams come true on their phones, often envying them. Do you want to be a doer or just a follower of people who live your dream life?
Make a schedule for a day and for a week and stick to it
As a person who works for herself, I know how hard it is to organize your day. It seems that I have enough time to do whatever I need to do but then procrastination comes in my way and I find myself cleaning the sink or ironing clothes instead of writing an article. Then I choose to finally finish the article instead of physical exercises (I am not a big fan of) or some self-care routine. It turns out that I always have to sacrifice something to be able to do something else because at some point procrastination stole several hours of my work day.
Life becomes easier when you have a schedule for a day and for a week. For example, I know that I must do exercises just on Monday and Friday (all other days are free from this unpleasant task), so it makes it easier for me to stick to the habit.
Write to-do lists for a day, week, month, etc.
Write down all steps you need to take to achieve your big goals.
In order not to get bored, switch activities. For example, as I work from home, I can spend an hour on writing an article, then switch to doing physical exercises, then switch back to writing the article. Set time limits for each activity.
Set deadlines for every task
Sometimes we let ourselves procrastinate instead of doing what is important for us because we think that there’s no deadline for our dreams: as if the time we have was endless. Obviously, it’s not true. The more time you spend on being indecisive, the less time you have for trying to achieve your goals and then, when you achieve them, for living your dream life. Procrastination equals a lot of regrets in the future. The sooner you start, the easier it’ll be. There may be no perfect timing ever. Waiting for it you’re just killing time.
Set deadlines for your goals, for each step you need to take to achieve it, for each task and do your best to meet them.
Reward yourself for progress
It’s easier to keep going without making breaks for procrastination if you know that you’ll get a reward if you complete the task on time. Reward yourself with something delicious, with 10 minutes of a video, with an hour-long walk, etc. Promise yourself bigger rewards for bigger goals. For example, reward yourself with a small vacation for sticking to your to-do list and daily schedule for half a year or for completing some steps on your way to your long-term goal.
You may think that perfectionism is your friend – it makes your work stand out. But actually perfectionism is your enemy which doesn’t let you ask for more and do more.
If striving for perfectionism is your problem, you need to understand that no one except you actually cares if you’re perfect. Other people don’t criticize you as much as your mind does. Stop being afraid of making a mistake. Mistakes don’t make you stupid. Everyone makes mistakes but only self-confident people aren’t afraid of making mistakes.
Eat the frog first thing in the morning
Try to do the most unpleasant or difficult tasks as early as possible. You’ll never gather enough courage anyway; neither will they become less unpleasant. “Eating the frog” first thing in the morning will give you a massive relief and also boost your self-esteem and confidence. You’ll be pleased with yourself and pleased with accomplishing such a difficult task. It should motivate you to keep working because if you could do that, there’s nothing you can’t do.
Now you know how to stop procrastination as self-sabotaging behavior. I hope from now on you’ll stop letting self-sabotage control your life. You’re in charge of your life and you’re able to make changes you need to achieve any goals no matter how huge they may seem.
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