Updated: Oct 23, 2020
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In a world full of schedules and to do things, it is easy to forget or to let go from time to time. But have found yourself constantly putting things off for later and then tomorrow and many times even longer than that?
We all procrastinate, every one of us procrastinates at one time or another; the difference is, that for some of us, it’s not a habit, it is not something we constantly do - or do daily, and we are less likely to feel the negative emotions that are associated with a habitual pattern.
Procrastinating is a negative habit, and like all habits they share something in common. A habit is a conditioning, a tendency, a behavioral pattern that we develop over time from repetitive doing and reinforcement.
1- HOW DOES PROCRASTINATING START?
For any habit, there is always a trigger, something that is referred to as a cue, that in turns provokes an action and then that action achieves a particular reward. The reward, whether negative or positive in concept, is determined from the action.
If you smoke, you get a nicotine high, if you work out, you get natural endorphins released, they both make you feel good, but one could argue that working out is more beneficial to your health than the other.
The better way to change a negative or unnecessary habit, is to replace it and to replace it with a positive or more beneficial one.
Our brains are wired to perform one main objective, and this objective it’s written down deep inside our internal programming, and that is: To survive, to keep us alive at all costs; thriving is optional.
Our brain is more concerned in the primal necessities like; getting food in our tummies, finding shelter for the night and a sense of belonging and suitable clothing.
Our brain will get to work on any of the optional stuff, when it gets to it; and it is highly efficient at conserving energy and only doing what is really essential and necessary. Anything it does, it tries to do in the least and most specific amount of time possible to make ends meet and to carry on living. It doesn’t want to spend any extra effort beyond that amount.
2- WHAT IS PROCRASTINATION ABOUT
Therefore, procrastination it’s not about time management or a lack of desire or the abundance of inactivity in our daily lives, it’s about the lack of urgency and/or the negative emotions surrounding the future.
The negative emotions associated to whichever task, project, activity or action we are to perform is the main issue with procrastinating.
If anything we do requires more time and energy than we are willing to do, or the reward attached to what needs to be done is not of a satisfying nature, or at least we don’t see it that way; then the will for starting, maintaining or finishing these to do list can be perceived as something that can be done at another time, when it’s more convenient or attached to a more urgent matters.
3- IT'S ABOUT YOUR THOUGHTS
How you think about a task determines how likely you are of starting or completing it.
The clash between logic and emotions is all about what needs to be done and how you feel about getting it done. In order to minimize procrastinating, you need to first change this perception and its behavioral patterns.
The thoughts, feelings and perceptions created by your mind of the of what it means to begin the process, to go through the process and/or finishing a particular task, holds the key to your new self.
In habitual procrastinating, the constant putting off responsibilities for a later time certainly increases stress, and this stress increases procrastination and that procrastination increases that stress, meanwhile, the things that needed to be done are still pending.
The propensities of one’s decisions and choices, once we make a commitment to do better and we have the inclination and the willingness to do the work, is also related with building a better and more robust character.
Character, just as any habit, is built over time, so give yourself plenty of time to change something that is deeply rooted with years and years of constant conditioning.
The solutions to be implemented to substitute a procrastinating habit will depend a lot on your own personality type.
Find out what type of personality you are, for this will determined what strategy will work best for you and how much better you’ll be able to replace your old habit and sustain your new one.
4- THE REQUIRED STEPS
Sustainability and consistency are the keys to your success. You can’t sustain, maintain or be consistent on something that is against your nature and blue print.
We all have different ways of doing things, we learn differently, we work differently, we love differently.
So, in order to have successful results, learning and implementing a new habit that replaces an old one, in this case procrastinating, will work best when done according to your persona.
Steven Pressfield’s book “Do The Work” illustrates that doing something is not about having better ideas, it's about getting things done right away and what the importance is of taking action and successfully sending projects from your to do list to the: it is done file.
5- WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE
Breaking down the cycle of procrastinating is simple; first, change the way you feel about the things you need to do by recognizing your personal patterns, and second, you’ve got to start doing those things right away.
The only requirement is, work diligently on your task, whatever it may be, during your preset time to completion, get reward for yourself at the end of that time frame and then work on the next one on your list and then the next one and so on and so forth.
Again, your focus is to directly work on your tasks during these smaller time frames while setting a low bar of expectation on all those projects and reward yourself in an acceptable manner at the end of each task but only if you did it until the time was finished and without interruptions until your new habit is formed.
You will then find out that when you self-regulate and you maintain discipline of your new way of doing things, it will become easier day by day and time by time.
1- Work on driving consciousness to your present self, to the moment. Awareness of self is one of the keys you will need to turn things around, whenever you find yourself procrastinating, acknowledge the situation, accept it and then move on to take action
2- Doing the right things in the right ways will help you in overcoming procrastination, and it will also help you to decrease the potential of getting derailed from your purpose. Change your thinking and this change will change your life.
3- Resolving to take action, it’s not necessarily about managing time, as time in reality cannot be managed, you can only manage your life and the way you choose to do things and the emotions associated with your actions.
4- Practice pattern recognition, become aware of the feelings and motivating factors behind overcoming procrastination. Keep in mind, motivation only works when you are consciously motivated, the moment you enter autopilot the rules of the game change, this is where self-regulation and your new routines will take over.
5- Plan, prioritize, and execute; do it in that order and see how fast you begin to thrive and excel.
Avoid the temptations you already know will distract you in every way possible. Improve your platform of success by having an environment that reduces these known distractions that make it harder for you to stay focus. Rewire your old habits and negative thoughts for new and improved ones.
The more you perform your new habits the easier they become; to the point that they become, a part of you.