Personal development: stop procrastinating and start doing

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We are all prone to procrastination in various forms, but I believe the way we live and work now has only made this tendency stronger and easier.

What is procrastination anyway? It’s actually a weird sort of self-regulation failure and while most of us are aware that we procrastinate, we can’t help but do it anyway.

We all know that scenario where you have to write a report, work on a presentation or some other project, but end up wasting time on the internet or some other distraction even though you know you should be working.

If we know it’s bad for us, why do we do it? People often assume that managing procrastination is just a matter of willpower, but in reality it’s much more complex than that.

Complex factors

Overall, we procrastinate the most when our self-control and motivation are simply outweighed by negative factors like anxiety or task aversion.

When this happens, we are much less able to self-regulate our behavior, so we will delay things unnecessarily, even when we know we should be doing them.

There is a gap between how we intend to act and how we act in reality. It’s like that to-do list you create the day before, but the next day it seems easy to put off some of that, especially if there’s no sense of urgency in the task.

The fear of failing at what we are doing or the anxiety about it will make us want to put it off until later.

There is plenty of research showing that you can overcome your procrastination by learning things like how to manage your time effectively and how to regulate your emotions better.

The unpleasantness of the task (or perceived unpleasantness) and even the way we talk about it affects how we feel about it, that is, “I have a report that I must write ‘,’ I need do ‘,’ I have to do ‘- which is pretty responsive language.

Distractions are a major issue when it comes to procrastination and our inability to deal with them, so it’s about creating an environment where there are far fewer distractions.

Willpower kicks in as it wears out over the course of a day – it’s easier to watch Netflix, etc. – therefore self-control and motivation are also essential.

Procrastination also occurs a lot when the reward is further away. The classic is when your deadline is far enough away and you wait until the very last minute to work.

Lack of energy also plays a key role here. If you are tired, have worked all day, or suffer from a lack of sleep, any of these things decreases your motivation and your ability to stay focused and focus on your task.

We can also feel overwhelmed if we have a lot of tasks piling up.

It’s easier to do nothing at all or even feel crippled at the thought of just how much we need to do.

Anti-procrastination techniques

There is plenty of research showing that you can overcome your procrastination by learning things like how to manage your time efficiently and how better regulate your emotions.

There are some pretty intuitive ways to approach procrastination, which is what makes these tips so effective.

We can learn to stop procrastinating, but only by doing little things every day.

As we say in our workshops, small changes lead to big results. Some examples are:

  • List your goals: Make sure they are clearly defined, achievable, and important enough for you to make meaningful progress.
  • Determine when, how and why you procrastinate: Examine situations where your tendency to postpone things prevents you from achieving your goals.
  • Create an action plan based on relevant anti-procrastination techniques: Take into account both your goals as well as the nature of your procrastination.
  • Implement your plan and monitor your progress: Be sure to refine your approach by determining which techniques work for you and how you can implement them most effectively.

There’s no better time than now to start, so here are some methods you can use to break the procrastination cycle:

  • Divide big tasks into small, actionable chunks.
  • Identify your productivity cycles and plan tasks accordingly.
  • Set concrete deadlines.
  • Eliminate distractions from your surroundings.
  • Count to 10 before procrastinating.
  • Start by committing to working out for just five minutes.
  • Strategically switch between tasks to avoid getting stuck.
  • Create sets of days in which you complete all of your tasks.
  • Reward yourself for your accomplishments.
  • Visualize your future self to become motivated.

The Pomodoro technique

Time management works because it regulates your behavior, but you have to choose a method that works for you and it can take a bit of time to put in place.

For example, you can use the Pomodoro technique, which is a time management technique where you use a timer to organize your workflow.

The Pomodoro technique involves working on your tasks for a set amount of time (eg 25 minutes), then taking a short break (eg five minutes), before resuming work.

Deadlines can be good, especially if you impose them yourself by breaking up a task and determining when and how you will complete each component.

In addition, with Pomodoro, once you have completed a number of work cycles (eg four cycles), you can take a longer break (eg 30 minutes), before returning to work.

You can modify this technique and others like it to suit your personal preferences.

For example, instead of using a defined duration as a marker for each work cycle when using the Pomodoro technique, you can choose to use a different type of marker, such as the number of words you have written. or the number of pages you have read.

Find your sweet spot

There is no one method that works perfectly for everyone, so you should try different techniques until you find the one that works for you.

If you don’t know which one to start with, just go for the Pomodoro technique and modify it to suit your needs as you go.

Deadlines can be good, especially if you impose them yourself by breaking up a task and determining when and how you will complete each component.

Ultimately, the key to overcoming procrastination is first to recognize when you’re doing it, and then to find solutions. Only by taking these first positive steps can you begin to tackle the problem.

Interested in this topic? Read Learning at Work: Can Procrastination Be a Good Thing?


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