Procrastination is the thief of time. It means putting things off intentionally or habitually. Procrastination is the barrier between you and the life that you dream of living. As they always say, to stop procrastinating, the first step is to recognize and accept that you are procrastinating.
About 23% percent of the population identifies themselves as chronic procrastinators and this number is on the rise. Simply put, Procrastination is lying to yourself that you will complete work later and constantly putting off what you need to do. It’s like when you have all the opportunities within your reach but still can’t get them. The time that you spend procrastinating could be spent on much more meaningful and productive things.
Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.Stephen King
Why do we Procrastinate?
People think that reading a lot of books, gathering more information such as hacks about how to overcome procrastination can help them overcome it.
The reason why we procrastinate and not be as productive as we intend to be is not that we lack information. We have all the information we need right on our fingertips. Rather, its because we fail to prioritize what we have to do and act.
One who is complacent in the current moment will fail to do anything that he has to. If you stay perpetually complacent, the consequence of that will be that you might end up stealing a lot from your future self. If you steal too much, the actions are sometimes irreversible.
Not prioritizing what matters the most
We are made to believe that the freer the people, the happier they will be. Now that we have a lot of freedom to choose what we like, it must mean we are happier now right?
In reality, that’s not the case. As we have a lot of choices, we tend to forget the priorities in life and perform actions according to our own free will. In the end, as a result of not putting in enough effort, if we don’t get the desired results, we feel demotivated and stop doing anything at all.
Sometimes it is hard to keep going when the odds are against you. At such times, you have to believe in yourself and overcome self-doubts. Every time you waste doubting yourself is not coming back and it doesn’t make you feel any better as well. So it’s better to get over the limitation that you set for yourself and start acting on things that matter.
Thinking that it’s not worth it
Sometimes you imagine a scenario of you not being able to achieve something that you’ve dreamt of. When you think of taking the necessary steps to get you closer to that dream, that negative feeling just holds you back. And you begin to think if it’s all worth doing it? Unless you act upon something, you will never know what lies ahead for you on the other side.
How to stop procrastinating?
I’ve gone through a lot of tips to stop procrastinating and only a handful gave actual results. One of the best tips that helped me overcome procrastinating is to leverage fear by ensuring that the stakes are too high for you to stay perpetually complacent.
Fear of something always pushes one to do something and be more responsible. Doing something out of fear can help you pay more attention to the consequences that will come to be. Fear of losing a job, a career that you dreamed of, losing someone you love (thanatophobia). All these will give you a reminder of why you should be doing it instead of procrastinating.
Why does it work?
The fear of having something taken away puts your mind into a mode where it constantly searches for a way to fix that outcome. People go after instant gratification but that is only temporary and after it fades away, you will still feel the need to procrastinate.
This is the opposite of the reward system, where you reward yourself for your achievement. In this system, you motivate yourself to achieve it or face the consequence that you have set up. Either way, it motivates you to do better.
Instead, have someone/ yourself periodically remind you of the situation you will be in if you don’t perform. The fear of consequence drives you and helps you do it without procrastinating further.
Why doesn’t it work?
Having fear constantly driving you is impossible. Sometimes you feel the urge to do it because of fear, but it may not be applicable to every action that you have to perform. We are told that it’s fine to put off things for later as long as it brings you happiness at the moment. The happiness being referred to is only temporary happiness. While you focus on instant gratification, the long term goals are getting distant and may not be reachable after a certain point.
Some people may feel that fear of consequence couldn’t be a driving factor for success. But, on the contrary, overcoming fear with even bigger fear is likely to work.
So if fear of consequence doesn’t help you get started, then find out other possible factors to influence you. You can learn all you want about motivation, productivity, and various factors. But in the end, if you don’t put all those learning into practice it won’t be beneficial.
Misconceptions about Procrastination
Procrastination isn’t a form of laziness or relaxation. A person who is lazy will not be willing to do anything in the first place, whereas a procrastinator will be willing and possess all the information but just isn’t compelled to do it.
Most of the chronic procrastinators think that they perform better at the last minute. So they waste all the time that they have until the end and complete their work ineffectively. This is a common misconception and scientifically proven to not work as they think it does.
Even when we’re procrastinating and hesitating, our life goes on. So it’s worthwhile to get started and do what you’re meant to, rather than wait around and waste time doing nothing that brings value. Constant improvement and deliberate practice go hand in hand with daily habits. It’s our responsibility to go out there and be who we dream of being. So start taking action without further ado and stop procrastinating!