I don’t like to admit this, but I have a tendency to procrastinate.
I avoid or put off doing some things that give me “pain”. For example, writing blog posts and articles is new to me, and still awkward.
I find it a challenge, especially to start writing.
I don’t see the immediate reward of doing it.
I put a pressure on myself to write something great or otherwise not bother. Let’s break this down:
- I find it a challenge, especially to start writing: pain
- I don’t see the immediate reward of doing it: lack of return on investment (i.e. lack of pleasure)
- Third, I put a pressure on myself to write something great or otherwise not bother: pain
I’m not talking about physical pain, but rather anxiety. That anxiety over a period of time, however, does manifest physically.
Similarly, in a session with one of my clients at one point, we had to fill out a mind map with 20 elements. As he looked at it, he resisted, saying he was tired and he wasn’t sure he could do it. It looked like a mountain to him. In other words, it was giving him pain.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
To me, its root causes have to do with “pain”, and more specifically obstacles and friction.
Examples of obstacles:
- You don’t know how to do something;
- You are feeling overwhelmed about something because it seems hard to do;
- You are overloaded with information.
Examples of friction:
- Physical: Do you lack sleep? Are you tired? Do you lack energy? Have you got a cold or are you coming down with one? Lack of sleep really gets to me. It affects my level of energy negatively, and I become a lot less productive;
- Environment: Improper lighting, your office or desk are cluttered with paper, noise, distractions (facebook, email, phone, people, and other applications open);
- Emotional: Is your willpower depleted? Are you emotionally distracted? Are your thoughts elsewhere? Are you thinking about the fun things you’d rather do right now? Are you not excited by what you’re doing?
What Is Procrastination?
It originates from the latin word procrastinatus, which is the past participle of procrastinare derived from pro- (forward) and crastinus (of tomorrow).
It simply means that you’re putting off doing something to tomorrow.
Procrastination does become a problem when you’re putting off doing things that are important for you to achieve your dreams and goals. You end up being last minute, and feeling bad about yourself.
Your results are not as good, and it creates a negative reinforcing loop.
13 Effective Solutions To Procrastination
The following solutions are all things I do, at one point or another, to be productive when I don’t feel like working.
1. I remind myself why I’m doing it. I don’t have to do anything. I choose to, and here’s why. Saying this to myself is very empowering.
3. I change my environment. I had a good portion of the skeleton for this article done, but I was struggling with starting to write it. I went to Starbucks and I started (and finished) writing this article within an hour of focused work.
4. I do the hardest tasks when my willpower and energy are at their highest. That is usually in the morning, and right after having a nap.
5. I plan daily. I plan what I want to accomplish today in a Mind Map. When I don’t plan, I feel my thoughts are wandering, and I’m less focused throughout the day.
6. I close everything that I don’t need open on my computer. Just seeing other applications and windows open, such as email, Skype and Facebook, distracts me.
7. I remove any paper or distraction on my desk. I now try to keep my desk paper-free. Otherwise, paper just keeps piling up, and it’s visually distracting.
8. I renew my energy. That includes catching up on sleep, eating healthy food, exercising and taking breaks. What I noticed is that in most cases where I’m procrastinating, taking a quick nap renews my energy and willpower enough to get that thing done.
9. I set a timer. When I know that there is a time limit to the work I’m about to do, I can more easily let go of the other things on my mind. I either do 50 minutes of work then 10 minutes of break, or 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break. It sums up to the same amount of work per hour, but setting my timer for only 25 minutes works better for hard tasks that I don’t feel motivated about. I time my breaks as well, otherwise they turn into 20 minutes, 30 minutes or more!
10. I put myself in a peak state. This is a technique I learned from going to Unleash the Power Within by Tony Robbins. It works every time to raise my energy and willpower. Ironically, when I’m in a low emotional state, it requires a lot of willpower to better my state. When I do push myself though, it’s worth it. A nap usually works better for me when I’m in a low physical state.
11. I build habits. Look up Eben Pagan and his Wake Up Productive program for more information on this. We have very little willpower and we burn it quickly. It is my positive habits that made the biggest difference in my life so far.
12. I reward myself. I tell (and promise) myself I’ll reward myself with X if I do Y. I try to choose a fun, positive and constructive reward.
13. Make it fun. When I have an article to write, or an idea to develop, I use a mind map. It makes it fun, and a lot more productive. I also listen to music I like – ideally instrumental so that it’s less distracting.
Now for the call to action! I would love for you to let me know what you tried and what worked for you or not. If you do something else not on this list, go ahead and post it below as well…