Procrastination is by far the most frustrating habit I have ever had to deal with. It always made me feel terrible about myself afterwards and just seemed like if it's absolutely impossible to break! No matter how hard I tried to work consistently during the entire day, I almost always end up doing 90% of the work done in the evening or even at night.
Mentally, I know that in order to succeed in life, I have to be very productive and never postpone important things I have to do. However, knowing that just wasn't enough for me to kill this habit once and for all. So I found myself asking the following question:
Why do we procrastinate anyway?
The part of your brain responsible for procrastination is the Limbic System. It’s a primitive one, so it only wants to feel pleasure, play and have fun. On the other hand there is the Prefrontal Cortex which is the reasonable part of your brain, who wants to work and get things done on time.
(excuse my drawing)
Now what happens is that when you have a relatively difficult task to do, you might think about the mental pain or discomfort it will cause you, or you get afraid of failing to do it properly. These two thoughts fire the Amygdala (a part of the Limbic System) that shuts down the frontal cortex and leaves you taking some very unreasonable actions instead of doing the right thing. That’s why you decide before getting to work, you have to first take a very “quick” Facebook break.
Here's a really good video (and a funny one too) that explains why do we procrastinate in a very simple way:
I noticed though that when I have a school assignment to do I always get it done on time, unlike when I decide to do something on my own. That is because when we have a certain deadline for the work we need to get done AND there are other people to hold us accountable – which means there’s public embarrassment on stake; in this case, the pain of not doing the work on time always exceeds the pain of actually doing it.
What’s the best way to overcome procrastination once and for all?
Well, there is no magical potion that can cure you from procrastination. And to be honest, I haven’t found a permanent solution for it yet. However, I did try a number of techniques that got me to overcome that bad behavior when I needed to.
Here are the techniques that I use to kill procrastination:
1. Write down all the things you need to do:
Sometimes we procrastinate just because we forget that we have a lot of things to do. For instance, when you decide to go watch the YouTube video that looked interesting to you the other day your head tells you: “Oh come on! it’s just one short video, you can do whatever you have to do later!”. Only one thing can save you from getting lost in the YouTube video jungle: a To-Do list. I tried this so many times and I always end up getting a lot more done during the day, because when you have all the things you need to do staring at you right in the face you can see that you don’t have time to waste on stupid activities.
2. Stop saying you’re a procrastinator!
Identifying yourself as a procrastinator just worsens thing up for you. It makes it even harder for you to break out of that habit. As Tony Robbins said, the greatest need in human psychology is the need to stay consistent with how we define ourselves. So stop saying I’m a procrastinator and try saying more empowering things like “I’m a successful entrepreneur” or “I’m a naturally productive person”. Just typing that right now makes me feel more pumped up to complete all of my tasks today.
3. Do it even if you don’t feel like it:
Sometimes we just feel lazy or not in the mood for doing what we need to do, so we just postpone it until “we feel better” (you know what that means!). The only way I know to overcome this feeling is by just taking action. It can be really hard for you in the first five or ten minutes, but sometimes it stops after that and you find yourself being proud of overcoming your laziness in a way that makes the bad feeling fade away. However, if that wasn’t the case for you, then try the next step…
4. Find a way to motivate yourself:
You can try reading a motivational book, or what I find easier, watch ONE video that motivates you. Don’t let this be your excuse of going on to YouTube, find one video that you feel can motivate you out of procrastination, download it and watch it whenever you need a kick starter to doing your work. For me, nothing motivates me more to take action other than a 14 years old kid owning a 6 figure company and on his way to making one million dollar. It gives me a sense of urgency that I mustn’t waste my precious life just like how Caleb Maddix doesn’t.
if that one didn't work for you, then this one DEFINITELY will (trust me):
There you go those are the strategies I use to stop procrastinating, if applied they really make a difference. I know how frustrating procrastination can be; it can drive you crazy and make you really upset with yourself afterwards. Just remember this: never give up on you, if these methods weren’t a fit for you, that’s fine keep looking and experimenting with different ones; and I’m sure you’ll eventually overcome this bad habit.
What are some of the ways you use to overcome procrastination? Share your thoughts with me in the comment section below 😄.