Procrastination, your n°1 enemy

Procrastination, your n°1 enemy

Who has ever spent hours scrolling on social media when there were more important things to do? This tendency to disperse oneself to better postpone a tasks to the next day has a name: procrastination. How to get out of it?

With procrastinators, every excuse is good to continually push back any work that has to be done to the next day. Hence when they are caught red-handed, these excuses can often give a smile: “the cat wanted to play with me”, “I absolutely had to clean out the attic before starting on this report”, “you very well know that I can not miss an episode of Santa Barbara…”

In a video for the TEDx, the blogger Tim Urban, renown guru on the matter of procrastination, perfectly explains what happens in the mind of a full on procrastinator (and it’s very funny).

Although what is it that drives us to do useless things instead of focusing on the realization of our projects?

A serious problem

The humorous side of this syndrome ends when said procrastination leads to episodes of intense stress to meet deadlines, or to a sense of failure when, overwhelmed, one ends up giving up.

Procrastination is often mistaken for laziness. In reality it is a lot more serious.

Because when you always postpone to tomorrow, it can hide a fear of not being up to it. To avoid suffering from a feeling of not being able to get there, you prefer to play ostrich and delay the time in which you begin to work. Except that when it comes to a task that you are obliged to do, there comes a time when you have no choice: you have to get to it. That is then when you struggle to finish on time. Result: sloppy work, feeling of “I could have done better” or abandonment.

With employees, procrastination can lead to layoffs. With entrepreneurs, this lack of self-confidence can stall a personal project for a long time. In both cases, negative feelings (guilt, anxiety, self-esteem in free fall …) mold an explosive cocktail.

How to stop procrastinating from this moment on?

There are several effective but temporary tips to blocking the way to procrastination. You can for example:

  • get away from any distractions by working in a cafe, a library, cleaning out the space on your desk or by putting on ear plugs if you are in an open space.
  • install mobile applications such as Space or QualityTime that will block access to certain websites or apps for a predetermined time, so as to work without an interruption or temptation.
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Work on the root causes of your procrastination

The tips mentioned previously can help you, but are still quite superficial. Because to cure the evil at its root, it is necessary to seek and understand the root causes of your procrastination, by asking yourself these questions:

Is this task so difficult to accomplish?
Objectively, how much time would I need to finish it?
What if I needed help to achieve it?
Does this task fit with my “why”. (https://hindgacimi.com/2018/01/23/le-pouvoir-du-pourquoi/)

By answering these objectively, you will discover what is the origin to this procrastinative behavior.

If you suddenly realize that the task is not so difficult and that it will not require extra time to finish it, what’s stopping you? Perhaps a lack of self confidence that makes you see the task as an impassable mountain … Once you have become aware of this unjustified fear, it will be easier to set a deadline and to respect it.

If, on the contrary, you think that the task is objectively insuperable, it is because you need help, it’s that simple. There is no harm in that, so you do not need to waste any more time.

That is to say, if you do not really see the interest of the task at hand, that it is not aligned with your objectives and ambitions, you know the deep reason for your procrastination. It’s not idleness, it just does not make sense to you, so motivation does not follow.

This is an excellent opportunity to ask yourself what you really want, your “why”. For when you are passionate about something, you can move mountains without even realizing it, right?

The importance of a long-term vision

A solution to be less afraid: organize yourself with a to-do list where you will cut your goals (long term) into small tasks (short term). That requires for you to be clear about what is a goal (establish a company or finish this 50 page report) and a task (deposit the name of my company or write the first chapter of the report).

Do not attack the final goal directly, you will only procrastinate and get discouraged. Always start with the easiest one, a task that will take you about an hour, then another. Step by step, you will move slowly but surely toward this goal that you will no longer seem as an impassable mountain.

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Your goal should therefore be a succession of tasks as simple as possible, hence the importance of making a clear to-do list with deadlines for each task.