Fighting ProcrastinationPosted by William
Procrastination effects 98.66% of people. No seriously I just made that up but I’m sure many of us suffer from it and I’d be confident enough to say the majority of us do. I do and am not ashamed to say it. I am the king of leaving things to the last minute and every time I do it leads to disaster. Yet whenever I get on top of things early, my life improves ten fold however this doesn’t stop me getting back into the procrastinating swing of things.
There are many reasons as to why we procrastinate. It’s an excuse, an excuse to ourselves to avoid failure, to avoid a fear or to avoid doing things we don’t like. If you don’t do it now, then maybe you won’t fail now so put the stress off to another time. Sounds silly but we aren’t always rational and logical. Is a Task vs Time thing (I will explain this a little later) where you don’t want to spend your time doing a boring task.
I can be known to procrastinate when it comes to cold calling however when I remove this fear of rejection and just get on the phone it’s not so bad. I think to myself “that’s not so bad”, and commit to not putting it off tomorrow either and promise myself to start first thing in the morning. Morning comes and I’m checking every email account I have ever set up, praying a friend of mine is online for a Facebook chat or simply doing ‘easier’ tasks.
I’m getting better though because I have found a few personal methods that have helped me to overcome the difficulties of my procrastination. When I follow these steps my procrastination disappears yet the key is to be persistent and use these methods regularly until it’s second nature.
Do something related - It does not have to be starting the task. Just do something related to it. If you need to start cold calling, get on the phone and pay a bill. Get on the phone and book your massage that you will receive after you finish your task. Need to write a blog post? Then reply to a few posts. Add a comment on a forum. Need to go to the gym? Put on your shoes. The aim is to get into the starting mood where starting is only a tiny (mental) step. If you need to start making some cold calls and your on Twitter “networking” then the process of getting the phone, looking up a prospective client, dialing the number, waiting nervously for someone to answer the phone (almost hoping no one does), then start rapping your heart out seems daunting. So you never start. On the flip side, if your on the phone already, making calls, hearing ring tones, speaking to people the step isn’t really that big. Same goes for writers, your not going to find it easy to start if your on the phone or watching Youtube videos. Get writing something. Start the process and slowly bring your mind up to speed. It’s all a mental shift. Deep down we know picking up a phone and calling takes about 8 seconds but mentally if your not in the right state of mind, the thought of those 8 seconds can be unbearable. Procrastination is a mental thing so it requires a change in your mindset. Doing something related will hopefully lead to my second point.
Time Blocks and Task vs Time- Set yourself time goals (again make sure they are unrealistic) and work for these time blocks only. I found a good time block to use is an hour, but you can vary that. After ever time block of 1 hr reward yourself with things you love to do. Procrastination occurs when there is a compromise between doing the things you like to do and doing the things you have to do and I refer to this as Task vs Time. This is the relationship between the limited time you have and the time that it will take to complete the task you really don’t want to do. Get on Youtube or Facebook for 20 minutes after every time block then start the next time block. This reward will reduce the effect of task vs time as you still are able to do the things you love to do and still work on your task.
Ambitious Goals – Set yourself ambitious almost unrealistic goals. If the task you are about to undertake will take 6 hours set yourself a goal to finish it within 1hr. This is a mental mind shift. There is a strong element of time here. If you think you need to do a 6 hour task then that is 6 hours of your day, 6 hours of your life that you will need to forgo doing this task. Therefore you associate that task with being a waste of your valuable time and gather disdain towards doing it and ultimately you will put it off. So set yourself a really ambitious goal. Say that you are going to complete the task in 1hr. Got 100 phone calls to make? Try to do it in 1hr… and charge. Need to write a 4000 word blog post, 1 hr… and charge. This does a few things. It tells you before starting that you will only be working for 1hr. Not so much time wasted. Secondly by working feverishly and intensely you will develop a rhythm which will help break through the wasted time mentality barrier. This brings us to:
Flow – Using the above technique will get you into a flow and this flow is a fantastic tool to target reverberating procrastination effects. Putting yourself into a zone will allow you to block out distractions and focus on the task at hand. The key is to run with it. If your writing just put down whatever comes to mind. Ignore mistakes. Ignore the fact you might ramble and just get into a zone and write. Making phone calls? As soon as you hang up dial the next number. Make it flow. Don’t stop until you have completed your time block.
Getting Started – You might be wondering why this isn’t first on my list. You hear it everywhere, getting started is the hardest part and no matter how many times you hear it, it’s importance simply can never be put into words. So I won’t try. If you can get started then you simply don’t need help in dealing with procrastination, your already there. Instead I thought I’d rather give ideas that would lead to and make getting started easier by changing your mind set. Doing something related, the first point, is aimed to guide you to making the first step which is to get started. The other points are designed to get you deeper into the anti-procrastination mind set and make is easier to get started. The thing is that whatever advice you get about procrastination it’s all to do with leading you to get to this point, getting started. If you can master this then you’ll never have to worry about procrastination again.