Procrastination is a pain in the ass. You would think that by sitting back and doing absolutely nothing that we would be content and happy. Why else would we continue to put things off?
Choosing to do something tomorrow instead of today may seem like a good idea at the time but the reality is – doing nothing is stressful.
Who would have thought that being lazy was such hard work?
That’s ok though because below are 7 awesome ways that we can all try to stop procrastination and cure what I like to call ‘the lazy disease’.
1. Start the day the right way
The number one tip for defeating procrastination is to simply start the day the right way. Get out of bed as soon as your alarm sounds. Don’t hit that snooze button and don’t tell yourself that you will have “just 5 more minutes”.
You won’t. It will be 10, then 20, then you’ll fall asleep again and before you know it you’ll hibernate through winter.
Don’t be a bear.
Start the day with a concrete plan and whatever happens, DO NOT DEVIATE FROM IT.
Wake up at the time you intended, get out of bed, and pick up your list of activities that you wrote down the night before. (You DID write out a plan the night before didn’t you?)
Just get cracking. Don’t sit there thinking about it, just do it. Be a Nike commercial and swoosh your way to that first activity, whatever it is. Just get started on it.
Michael Jordan would be proud.
2. There is no tomorrow
One of the best excuses an expert procrastinator comes up with is the old “Yeh I’ll do it tomorrow”.
You won’t. Tomorrow doesn’t exist. It’s just another version of today and you will feel exactly the same then as you do now.
I wrote a guest post detailing the reasons why tomorrow is just a false promise. One of the main reasons is that you cannot count on your future self to cash the cheques you write.
Research has shown that the part of your brain that is reserved for how we deal with strangers is the same part that is used when we think about our future. Our brain sees the tomorrow version of you as a totally different person.
Don’t trust your brain. It’s wrong.
3. Enjoy what you are doing
Speaking of which, this is really a no-brainer. If you aren’t enjoying what you are doing and you aren’t looking forward to the day ahead then how can you expect to create that hard-core work ethic that you dream of?
There is something that every successful person has in common, and that is they truly love what they do.
Even if it’s something totally mundane like trying to tackle a list of household chores, your passion should be in making your home look as good as it can. If you don’t care about the consequences of not picking up your dirty socks and throwing then in the washing machine, then they will stay there.
And then your house will smell.
Just the other day I started to create a new website but after several hours of procrastination I realised I didn’t really want to do it. It was the wrong niche and I knew I wouldn’t enjoy writing articles for it in the future. So instead of forcing myself to finish it, I scrapped the idea.
Learn what works and what doesn’t. Then focus purely on what you really want to do.
4. Become accountable for your actions
This one is really for the masochists out there. If the above tips aren’t putting the jam in your doughnut then consider broadcasting your goals to anyone that will listen.
Let’s say you really want to lose 10lbs but you just can’t get started with all that healthy eating and running malarkey.
Write a Facebook status telling everyone that you will lose 10lbs in the next 30 days. Post a picture up of your current self and promise that you will post an ‘after’ picture at the end of the month for comparison.
Uh oh, what have you done?
Unless you want to look like a fool, you have to follow through with your promise or you will feel embarrassed.
This is why the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali used to mock and taunt his opponents with his knockout predictions. He later admitted that he did this to motivate himself in training otherwise he would look stupid in front of the whole world.
5. Break everything into smaller chunks
No I’m not giving your permission to go mental and smash up your room in a fit of procrastination related frustration. That’s a tongue twister.
Take whatever task you plan on tackling and break it into smaller chunks.
The best way that I have found to do this is to use time as a divider. If spending one hour on something is a little daunting, then break it up into 4×15 minute chunks. Just focus on getting one chunk done and then try for the second chunk etc. and before you know it, you’ve just done a whole hour.
Another way of breaking everything into smaller chunks is to focus on the easiest part of your task. Get that done and out of the way and then move on to the second easiest part. Continue doing this and by the time you reach the more difficult parts you are already in the zone and you’ll be so close to finishing that this will motivate you for that final push.
6. Eliminate distractions
Have you ever wondered why people in the olden days used to get so much done? It’s because they didn’t have Facebook to kill their motivation.
Not just that, but take a look around you now. I bet you can see a television, a mobile phone, a dancing monkey.
If you see the latter, please go and see a doctor.
The point is we are surrounded by distractions. They are everywhere. The annoying thing is that if you plan on working on a laptop or PC then the internet is just hiding behind the screen. Taunting you just by being there, daring you to have one more peek at the delights that are held within.
Luckily there are easier ways to remain focused. Turn off the TV, put your phone on silent and shut that damn door.
7. Change your location
Ok you’re out of bed, you don’t trust strangers, you love what you do, you’ve told everyone your plans, you’ve split everything into tiny pieces and you’re now in total silence.
If you are still struggling to get motivated then there is only one solution remaining.
Give up and go back to bed.
No I’m joking.
If all else fails, then a great way to stimulate yourself is to change your location. Take your work outside and sit in the sun. Go to a café and surround yourself with new stimuli and enjoy a lovely hot chocolate.
There is a reason why many world famous musicians and authors hole themselves up in remote cabins and secluded locations while they work on their next piece. It works.
I’m not saying you have to go deep into the woods and start playing the banjo, but get out of your home or regular place of work and try somewhere new.
Nothing stops procrastination like a change of location. Give it a try.
If you have any tips you would like to add then please leave them in the comments below and share your wisdom with everyone else.