Surely you know the stress of procrastinating the important activities. Although you may have the desire to achieve something, postponing becomes a common hard habit to get rid of.
Fortunately, overcoming procrastination is easier than you think. In this article I have a simple strategy that you can use as an effective lifesaver at any time. Do not procrastinate, end procrastination today.
“Procrastination is the thief of time” – Chrisoula Andreou
Before we begin, I must confess that when I started writing this article I began to procrastinate. The funny thing is that I procrastinate reading an article about how to stop procrastinating and be more productive.
A paradox: I get distracted with something that will help me be more productive.
If you are also procrastinating reading this article (to stop procrastinating), I recommend you read to the end point. I assure you that the latter it will be an useful distraction.
Typical. When going through your head the desire to start that task ahead, something becomes (suddenly) much more urgent: the laundry was accumulated, you have to answer mail that important client, your desktop seems too messy, you were very tired, etc ..
And once again you left the start for later (or continue later) that activity.
Many of us go through life with a great variety of non complete tasks, either large or small, important or not.
I have always imagined that procrastination becomes like sea waves crashing against a spring. Again and again, making the spring more and more weaker (as your intentions to start or finish the unfinished task).
The only solution is to build a strong wall for those waves, which controls that tide of distractions, excuses and lack of productivity.
Procrastinating is the problem that is always resolved “Tomorrow”
The word comes from the Latin cras procrastinating means tomorrow or later.
And it is precisely the logic that we have when we postpone. We let things to later forming a vicious cycle between anxiety and guilt that generates more anxiety.
George Akerlof, Nobel Prize winning economist. He wrote an essay on the dynamics of procrastination curiously after being the victim of this habit.
He tells us that he postponed for 8 months sending a package to a friend. He was always about to send the box, but the time to act never came.
There is something comforting in this story: Nobel prize winners Also postpone things!
Akerlof, concluded that procrastination could be more than a bad habit. It is actually a natural impulse in humans.
In fact, it is estimated that the percentage of people who admitted procrastinating quadrupled between 1978 and 2002.
In this sense, it is possible to see it as a modern problem, which has increased in our time.
Why we have the habit of Postponing?
It is true that there are many reasons. Below I have 3 of the main reasons:
We want instant gratification
We do not have immediate negative consequences (although we will pay for it later) at the moment all is Ok.
For example: Resting on the couch is more comfortable at the moment than going out and exercise. Checking the mail is easier now to do than that project you have been putting off. Eating chocolate cake is tastier now than eating vegetables.
Over-estimate our future productivity.
We think it’s okay to procrastinate, because we will do it later, without any excuse. blindly we believe that the perfect time is then not now. But when that future arrives we still can not finish, or even worse without being able to begin
We fear fear.
This is the most hidden of all reason. Fear paralyzes us and makes us procrastinate a task or an important activity, doing something easy and safe instead.
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The Endless Cycle Of Procrastination
Do you remember when was the last time postpone something? …
Without realizing it, these are the steps you followed:
First stage: you perceive anxiety or discomfort with that-you-get-to-do activity.
Second stage: As a logical reaction, your brain seeks to alleviate that feeling with some other task. So, you become very productive in other activities (that are not a priority at that time).
Third stage: Your brain stores that-you-get-to-do activity, as painful and looks more distractions or some logical reason to explain why postpone that-you-get-to-do activity. All the comforting excuses appear at that time: “tomorrow is another day,” “was very important to answer the mail,” “the meeting was inevitable,” etc., etc.
When you come to remember that pending task that you initially procrastinate, it will generate guilt or remorse and back to the starting point.
In addition to stress and guilt involved in procrastinating, these are other consequences of postponing what you have to do:
- Winning a bad reputation with co-workers, friends and family.
- The loss of your ambition to succeed.
- Not achieving your goals or results you want.
- Threatening your welfare if it is a health-related task (such as an annual checkup or start exercising).
Things get worse because procrastinate can affect your self-esteem and mood.
According to a study, 65% of students who face a final project, said they would like to avoid delay. The reason, all agree that the delay would make them unhappy.
No matter what the task at hand, procrastinating generates us the same feeling. The only way to solve this problem is to break the cycle from the beginning.
And here I say how.
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Stop procrastinating is like a child´s play
My mom is a kindergarten teacher. As you can imagine, trying to maintain order in a closed space with more than 10 young children may seem impossible.
Using her wit and imagination, she found a strategy (which was actually a game) to make them finished the drawing exercises without being distracted.
While using the crayons, they have to repeat this phrase: I am coloring, I am coloring, I am coloring ….
The game has a single rule: when the teacher says high FREEZE! everyone must stop and stand still coloring. Without speaking or moving as if frozen!
When the teacher claps hands, they can continue the drawing and start the game.
Interestingly, this game is a powerful strategy that works as well for adults:
- To not procrastinate in that important task
- And to avoid distractions
Here we explain how to apply it simply, without singing loudly throughout the day.
The perfect strategy to stop procrastinating
Let’s start this game. It is very easy, just a rule to follow.
If you are not working in that important task, then you have to freeze yourself !
When we procrastinate, it’s not really that we stop working on something. What actually happens is that we become extremely productive in other tasks that are not important at that time.
We change the activity for another one to keep us busy. Therefore, this strategy works like charm.
If you are not working in that activity, then you can not do anything else.
It’s a trick. But it is a powerful trick.
Before you start answering that not so important-mail, or viewing a video on youtube, or reading an article, or simply skiping the planned activity, stop and FREEZE!
If your mind wants to go through the roof for a moment and you can not move forward or start that task, it is okay. But do not do anything else instead.
That way you will be much more disciplined: If you do not do what you should do, then you will not be doing anything else instead.
When you follow this strategy, you cease to become productive in other activities, which makes you do and end the pending activity.
It seems to be a waste of time, because you’re not doing anything. But in reality it is a workout for your brain.
This way you will achieve control. When you have something to do, you will be simply doing it.