Now I am not an expert in this field. But I assure you that I put herculean efforts to break my bad procrastination habit. From learning time-management tips, reading books about self-control and the science behind procrastination to setting goals, tracking my time, putting unrealistic goals to terrify myself, prepare a to-do list, and give it to a friend…. You name it. I’ve tried everything.
So, I know all the negative feelings that come with procrastination, all the frustration, and self-loathes that come at the end of a day from the idea of I supposed to be a productive one.
This is why I decided to write this article. I hope my little knowledge and experience can help you take the driver’s seat and stop being a bad procrastinator.
How To Prevent Bad Procrastination
To stop procrastination you have to train yourself to control your own mind, it is not easy and I am not here to give some fictional solutions. After all, I am walking in your same shoe. But to control your mind is to begin living an integral life.
Do you live with specific goals? No, I am not talking about losing that 5 kilos or getting that job. I am talking about that big picture everyone talks about. For example: Who you are? Who you want to become? What is it to be that person you are dreaming of?
Are you an incorrigible procrastinator too? Well, not anymore. Because I am sure you’ve read our articles that will help you to stop procrastinating. Didn’t you read our articles yet? Shame on you. But it is okay. You can check them from the links below:
Must-Read Books on Procrastination
Types Of Procrastinators
The time you answered these questions honestly is the time you start naturally adjusting your whole habits and approaches.
Yes, defining these principles is not luxury. it should be the foundation that we build on. I talked and researched the whole topic of personal growth. And the more I dug in it the more I am understanding how building our principles and values is vital to living a decent life.
And a decent life walks parallel to procrastination, they never intersect.
I should warn you though. The following strategies are not quick fixes. They start and end with your will to commit to them. They helped me come to a good distance now to prevent bad procrastination. And whenever I start losing it again, I remind myself of them.
1-Add A Sense Of Urgency
If you are a procrastinator then probably you push everything to tomorrow and then after tomorrow and then after tomorrow until you die. But keeping yourself aware of the idea that your time on this earth is short and it will come to an end will add a sense of urgency to your day.
Now I am not saying think about death all day, this is abhorrent. But notice how little time we have will push us to focus our energy and aspire to do more.
Working as if you might not be here tomorrow, will push you to work not for the sake of achievement as much as for the sake of the experience and joy that comes with it. You might find it hard to think of things from a death lens, this is so apocalyptic I know. But when we take our time for granted we forget that it will pass pretty quickly and before we even realize it we are on death bed regretting everything we haven’t done.
Another technique to add a sense of urgency is to ask yourself what kind of feelings you don’t want to feel at the end of this week? What kind of things if you don’t do you are going to feel terribly miserable?
2-Track Your Time
For example, I started recently tracking my time. Trust me it is horrific where our time goes. I started to calculate the hours I spend on every task, my overall working hours per day (actual and produce results) sum up to 7 hours maximum, which I still see too little, but also a great deal regarding how much I used to waste time procrastinating.
Now, as a self-employed person, I am the one in charge of my lunch break. So I decided to track the time it is consuming. To my surprise -not that much- what I thought taking 1 hour and a half, was going up to 3 hours. Between preparing lunch, taking a walk, doing the dishes, watching one episode while eating, it turns to 3 hours.
Tracking your time will make you feel guilty and more responsible.
It might not work for you right away. To be honest, the first two weeks I was turning the timer on and then forgetting it at all. But what I believe helped me a lot is seeing that 3 or 4 hours were wasted instead of crossing one thing off my list. After two weeks my sense of responsibility got so overwhelmed by the amount of wasted time and I started to make progress.
So be patient with yourself. You will get there, gaining control over your habits is not easy, but with small steps and insistence, it will be done.
3-Important vs Urgent
Separating important from urgent tasks is a must in order to help yourself stop procrastinating.
Eisenhower’s productivity strategy will aid you well in this. According to him, you should separate your tasks based on four criteria.
- Urgent and important (tasks that require your immediate focus)
- Important but not urgent (tasks that you will schedule to do later)
- Urgent but not important (tasks that you need to handle, and if possible delegate)
- Not urgent and not important (tasks that you should eliminate)
Procrastinators spend a lot of time on the 4th criteria. Some of us like the illusion of productivity which lays in the 3rd criteria. Being busy with urgent tasks gives you a feeling that you are working, but usually, these tasks aren’t the type that leads to a massive improvement in your life.
What you must focus on are important tasks. Since this is what gets you to achieve your biggest and most ambitious dreams. However, I know learning how to create such a balance seems vague, especially that our biggest goals sound so huge that starting them seems dreadful. This takes us to:
4-Break It Into Small Steps
For me many things are interesting. This website, another one about interior design, my career, painting, traveling, reading, languages. And because they are too many, I was terrified and distracted by many unrealistic plans I put time after time. If you are a person like me who has 1000 goals and a million dreams, then achieving them seems to be only doable with a magic wand.
Recently my friend advised me to consider even the tiniest thing I work on, and break every big task into steps.
It will be something like this:
Main Task: Writing a post about procrastination
When I looked at it like this, it seemed so big and daunting.
But then breaking it into steps will be like this:
- Step 1: Make research and take notes
- Step 2: Decide the outline
- Step 3: Write a draft copy
- Step 4: Leave it aside
- Step 5: Optimize and make edits
I started doing this technique for literally everything I do in my day. The great thing about this technique is that it makes things less ambiguous, and it allows you to move forward easier and faster.
That was all. In this article, I’ve tried to explain how to prevent bad procrastination. If you want to understand the root causes of procrastination and learn some techniques to stop procrastination, don’t forget to check our related articles!
If you have any other suggestions to overcome procrastination, just share with us your experiences to support others in this adventure! And don’t forget to share your comments about this article below!