Procrastination is one of the biggest killers of productivity. In all of our lives, we have to deal with this simple fact, that we do procrastinate from time to time and we have to at least reduce the amount of time procrastinating if we ever want to achieve our goals.
However, in order to stop it, we have to understand why we procrastinate in the first place!
The following are a list of some of thereasons I have found to light the fire that keeps me from taking action:
- Avoiding what needs to be done, in favour of other minimal tasks that are not really important.. tricking yourself into feeling a false sense of accomplishment.
- Telling yourself that you will complete the task better later, and that you should not get started now as the conditions are not right to start, or you wont get much work done in the time frame available.
- Having80% of a particular task done, and delaying that final 20% because you feel that your missing something, or that you need some more time to go over what you have done so far (again!).
- Being stopped in your tracks based on a decision you have previously made, wondering if it was the right one, and thinking perhaps you should track back and make a different decision.
- Feeling that you will never be able to make a strong enough effort, that your skills will not be good enough for the tasks, so you dont even bother to try. However, you still waste time wondering if you are right.
- A lack of energy or optimism towardsthe task at hand causes you to loose focus too often and ultimately to hold yourself back from completing the task.
Now that we have listed some of the common reasons for procrastinating lets go ahead and look at some ways to kick it in the ass!
1. Create a Smart To-Do List
Begin by creating a smart to-do list that only contains the tasks that you have been avoiding. For every task on this list you must be sure that it was something you have had to do for a while now, but that you have been putting off, no matter what the reason. This will be the final resting place for those tasks.
2. Break Down Every Task
Now that you have a list of what you need to do, go ahead and break each task down into sub-tasks. Any task that seems overwhelming or perhaps too difficult are prime candidates for this. Below each of them, envision what needs to be done to complete them then simply write down each step you think you will need to take to write that entire task off.
Once you start to cross of the sub-tasks you will begin to develop a sense of accomplishment. It is this self propelling fuel that will build up the momentum you need to keep going.. and enjoy the ride while your at it.
3. Set Deadlines to Ensure Constant Focus & Reflect
To make sure you dont stray from completing your goals, create deadlines for each task. Set a time by which you expect to be finished the task. That way, whenever you do happen to go overtime, you will know immediately. With this knowledge you can go ahead and assess why you went over time:
- Was the task too difficult?
- Did I lack the required skills?
- Was there a lot of distractions?
- What took up most of the time?
4. Eliminate the Temptation to do Something Else
If there is nothing floating around you that you may perhaps be distracted by, then you greatly increase the probability of completing your task. For example, if your television is off, your less likely to turn it on ie. to watch it. If your mobile is is on silent you less likely to look at it often, as you wont hear messages or phone calls.
5. Seek Assistance from a Plethora of Existing Tools
There are some really helpful toolsout there that allow you to assess how productive you are actually being on an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly basis. What better way to reflect on what you have done, to see if you are really making progress. There are also many tools that allow you to block certain websites for an amount of time, to ensure that they cannot distract you.
One such website that accomplishes all of the above is called RescueTime.
6. Make Your Intentions Knows
One great way to complete your tasks is to simply tell your friends or loved ones about what you are trying to accomplish. As a result you will essentially be held accountable for your goals. You will feel the desire to succeed, just so that when your friends ask you how you are getting on, you will be able to tell them that you are flying along.
Lets face it, everyone wants to feel successful and what better way than moulding yourself into the alpha-male of the group.
7. Create Consequences for Failing
Sometimes we create goals with the best intentions, but we simply slack off at some point or delay execution of the task, which ultimately causes us to fail overall! I suggest we hold ourselves accountable for each failure, and create punishments for each of them, where the bigger the task is the bigger the punishment will be.
This may seem counter-intuitive as if the task is a large difficult or important one then our chances of failing may be even larger still, so it is more likely that we will fail well that is just the point of creating a more severe punishment, so that we will strive to complete the tasks that matter the most.
This can also tie into the previous point. Here we could simply tell our friends what we are aiming to accomplish, and let them hold the power to deliver the punishment if we fail.
8. Reward is Better Than Punishment
With the previous point in mind, it is absolutely crucial to acknowledge that reward is better than punishment.Its all well in good to hold yourself accountable for failures, in the hope that you will be afraid to fail next time. However, it is so much more powerful to create positive links to the feeling of success rather than negative ties to that of failure.
Therefore, your rewards for achieving your goal should be so much more motivating and desirable than that fear of failure or the want to avoid failure.
9. Focus on the Feeling of Success
Think of thelast time you felt truly successful. A time you went above and beyond what you believed you were capable of if possible, or a time when you crossed a difficult task of your to do list at the very least. How did you feel?
You felt like you were in complete control. You felt a sense of accomplishment. You felt great about yourself. Do you like those feelings? Yes! Off course you do! We all do.
Take those emotionsand imaging feeling them again. Now imagine them x2 for completing another, even more difficult task than the first. Woah, Im already getting chills thinking about the emotions I will feel when I complete that task.
Each of us has a responsibility to become the best that we can be. There are no valid excuses, only clouded reasons to make yourself feel more comfortable with being an average person.
The fact is, we as human beings can develop incredible levels of motivation over time.It is inevitable when focusing and achieving our goals. The momentum we build up after completing several goals of ours becomes an unstoppable force. A forcethat not only drives us forward, but those around us.