Today I’ll be writing about procrastination. Most of us tend to put off all the things we need to do because of one thing that we want to do. (Uh I just remember my favorite series is on the telly right now. Besides, I’m still not in the mood to write. So maybe I should just go back writing right after the show.)
OK, where was I? Right, procrastination…
Why do you procrastinate?
Everyone has an important work to be done. Maybe you have to finish a report or a school project. Maybe the article you wrote three weeks ago needs to be completed. Maybe you need to review your lessons or create a PowerPoint presentation for your business. But there’s always a seemingly valid excuse to delay. The reason behind this is obvious: You and I are big suckers for pleasure. We give in to the slightest provocation of enjoyment.
Procrastination also has to do with our time bias. People who lean more towards being present-oriented tend to be more inclined to procrastinate. If you’re one of these people, then your life motto is “live for the present”. You pamper yourself and you value self-indulgence. While it doesn’t necessarily translate to negative, you have to admit that too much indulgence is going to hurt your future. If you have goals for next year or even next week, you have to devote fair amount of time doing the things you don’t like. Know that this doesn’t mean you should drain your energy over a task. Nor does it mean not allowing yourself to take a walk in the park or watch a movie.
The key is not to fight it but to tame it.
So how could you overcome the seemingly irresistible pull of procrastination? Will power alone will not work. How many times have you tried to fight it only to be repeatedly defeated? The habit of procrastination is the antagonist of productivity. And to conquer an enemy, we befriend it. Consider what Abraham Lincoln said “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” That’s what we’re going to do, my slothful fellas. So don’t abandon hope yet. You’re not the only one struggling with this. We all do. Every. Freaking. Day. We share the same weakness. But we’re not at all helpless. We just need to try different approach in dealing with it. Here are five tactics to try:
Delayed Gratification Project. Pleasure should be a motivation, not a distraction. Write down your goal on a paper together with its corresponding reward. (e.g. Treat yourself with your favorite ice cream only after you’ve done your boss’ report. Have a movie marathon only if you’ve finished your 3000 word article. Schedule a shopping spree once you’ve reached your target monthly sales.) Delayed indulgence is a lot more worthwhile. And because you know it’s well-deserved, you can enjoy it totally guilt-free.
Don’t resist it. Cheat it. Procrastination can be easily associated with wasting time. But you can actually procrastinate without wasting your time. How? By doing something less demanding but still equally meaningful. I sometimes use reading as a way to put off writing. It’s entertaining and beneficial. Do positive activities as a way to procrastinate such as meditation (here is an interesting article of how meditation affects our brain) or exercise (here’s why we should exercise).
Do what you love. The main reason why we avoid a particular task is because we view it as a chore. We hate and complain before we even start. When you find yourself constantly unhappy towards your work, it’s time to discover your passion. When you do something that makes you excited, you’ll never want to dawdle. Ponder what the great Steve Jobs said “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
Be a Master Procrastinator. Once you’ve mastered the art of procrastination, you’ll know how to put off the art itself. (You procrastinate procrastination, get it?) Procrastination’s gonna be your bitch. Create a list of all the things that distract you. Awareness of what stimulate your slothful behavior will eventually help you rule over it.
Last-minute wizard. If all else fail, there’s still one great skill left to save you. A skill that is honed with years of practice. I’m talking about your ability to cram all the things that need to be done in a very short span of time. You’re a whizz kid at this. Bill Watterson is right when he said , ”You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last-minute panic.”