Procrastination is a problem that affects me and almost everyone else I know.
In fact, I left home today to drive my daughter to a friends house. Then I headed to my home away from home, Starbucks, where I had every intention of sitting down and writing this article. Dealing with procrastination is something I believe certainly affects our ability to achieve success.
Unfortunately, instead of writing about it, I proceeded to engage in it. I plugged in my headset fully intending to listen to radio to drown out the conversation of the other people at the same table, when instead I opened up Netflix and spent the next two hours watching reruns of Bones.
Now don’t get me wrong, each of us needs a bit of a break once in awhile . . . and I had been insanely productive for the last couple of days. But, having procrastinated on writing this article ensured time with my daughter in the evening would be next to nothing.
Over the years, I found several strategies that I’ve used to successfully get past my inclination to procrastinate and therefore to enjoy greater productivity. Had I engaged those strategies today, I may have finished this article during the time I had allotted and not taken away from time with my daughter. But alas, we don’t always get done what we plan to do.
Psychology tells us that procrastination may be related to your inability or subconscious desire to avoid a challenge or a particularly unpleasant situation.
However it can also be the result of an overtaxed mind or body. If you think you have a problem with procrastination then you’ll want to first determine you’re getting enough sleep, enough nutrition and enough exercise to power your brain cells and keep them moving all day long. That’s right – exercise powers your brain and your muscles.
Without these three foundational pillars of health, your brain just doesn’t function as well as it should. So, your first strategy is to determining whether or not you’re really addressing procrastination or if you’re just overtired, overstressed, overworked, and underappreciated.
A secondary strategy you can consider to overcome procrastination is to use more technology in your life to achieve greater productivity. By this I mean I don’t mean installing a Facebook app so that you can surf Facebook all day long or post pictures to Instagram and Snapchat.
Instead, use technology by using voice activated text to speech in order to write your lists, write an article, write a report or otherwise jot down notes of things that you need to remember throughout the day. Use an app to shut off your email, and allow yourself just an hour or two a day to get through your email and not the hours you may spend each day checking each as it comes in.
Recently, I was faced with filling out many pages of paperwork in order to finalize a legal situation. I literally put this off for months. I would open up the folder take a look at what needed to be done and close it once more, absolutely convinced that it would take hours and hours of time in order to complete the task.
But today, I opened up the notebook and committed to finishing what needed to be done for the first step. Lo and behold it only took me an hour. It’s amazing what you can get finished with when you put your mind to it.
And realistically, that’s the underlying issue with procrastination. When your motivation and inspiration is great enough to overcome your lack of desire to complete a task, then you’ll pick up what needs to be done and finish it.
I remember watching my older son pick up things off the side of the road and spend an hour or two fixing them to turn around and resell them. But he hated to pick up his school work and spend more than 15 minutes at a time. Once completed, however, his feelings of achievement overcame his desire to procrastinate the next time, as long as the next time happened quickly after the first.
In essence, this is the definition of intrinsic motivation, which does an exceptional job of helping you to overcome procrastination.
Intrinsic motivation is an internal force that moves you forward.
Research has found people who dislike exercise do so because they don’t enjoy the anticipation of engaging in exercise. Whatever the reason – whether they don’t enjoy sweating, going to the gym, or working hard – anticipation is always worse than the actual event.
Knowing that exercise will reduce the risk for diabetes, help maintain weight, improve balance, and just make you feel better are not enough motivation to get most people out of bed.
These are extrinsic motivators.
Research has found that when people do exercise, they exercise more since they experience the intrinsic motivator – the feelings of euphoria that accompanies the release of feel good hormones that happen during exercise.
Intrinsic motivation just works.
And it works to help you overcome procrastination as well. When you complete a task, you feel good about yourself. You feel as if you accomplished something – and you DID.
By tapping into those feelings of accomplishment, achievement and growth, you can help reduce the amount of procrastination you practice, because procrastination takes practice.
Just like anything else you do in life – you do procrastination better the more you do it. It becomes easier the more you practice.
And, just like Nike advises you – JUST DO IT!
It’s easier said than done, but the reality is that most of what we accomplish in life is easier said than done.
Raising a child alone isn’t easy. Being mother, father, teacher, housekeeper, bookkeeper, banker, employee and employer – at one time – is not easy.
You are doing all that – now.
Choosing to get past procrastinating on a project or two is just one step in your life’s journey . . .
. . . . and you CAN DO IT!