This post inspired Episode 11 of the Podcast
What is Procrastination?
I suppose the best place to start, is to get a good idea of what procrastination actually is?
For most people, they see procrastination as being distracted from what’s important. Some of the more popular forms of distraction are for example, scrolling through social media when you have more important things to do. Or, binge watching your favorite TV show, when you should be finishing that report for work, etc.
But, as well as the usual distractions, the other big cause, is the distraction of doing unnecessary work.
So, what do I mean by that?
Simply put, concentrating on the small, irrelevant stuff, instead of getting the important stuff done. Time for an example, I think 🙂
Let’s say, you wanted to improve your overall fitness. You’d heard, (quite correctly), that one of the best ways to improve your overall mood, is to get regular exercise. So, you decide to join a Gym.
You don’t want to rush in, so rather than just joining the local Gym, you decide to get some recommendations first. For the next few weeks you speak to all of your friends. You spend hours on the internet researching reviews. Then, checking out the machines and classes, offered by each Gym in the area.
However, you’re now 4 weeks down the line and yet haven’t made any move toward your goal.
If you’re goal was truly to become fitter, then why not just join the local Gym for a month? Or go for a walk every day?
Now, there could be several reasons why you decided to procrastinate. Maybe, you don’t feel you could keep it up? Perhaps the cost was too high? Maybe, the embarrassment of sharing the space with, possibly totally ‘ripped’ men and women was stopping you?
Whatever the reason was for you, your procrastination took the form of doing unnecessary work.
This type of procrastination is much more common that people think. Mainly, I believe, because it hides itself well under the cover of movement. It ‘appears’ that we’re doing something constructive, when in fact, we’re really not!
How do I change that and become more productive?
Well, that really depends on which type of procrastination is causing you the most problems. I’ll cover some of the things you can do in each.
If you find yourself distracted in the usual sense, there are a few things you can try. Obviously, everyone is different, so some will work better than others for you.
- If you’re one of the millions of people drawn into their social media feeds every day. If the biggest use for your cellphone is to discover what everyone else is doing. There are several apps to help you out.
- If your distraction is the TV, try using an episode of the show as a reward. When you take an acceptable step toward your goal, give yourself the reward of watching an episode.
- Do something easy. Sometimes, we distract ourselves, because we believe the task is too big. Try doing something that only takes five minutes. Or, if there’s nothing that can be done in five minutes, just spend five minutes working on something bigger. You’ll likely find that once you get going, you’ll carry on longer than that anyway. But, aiming for five minutes got you started.
- Perhaps your list of things to do, is just too big. If that’s the case, pick a top three. Pick the most important three things, then work your way through them from most important, to least important.
- Finally, you could give yourself some motivation. Maybe ask a friend to keep you accountable? Ask them to set a forfeit if you don’t complete your agreed task. Then get them to check on you after a specified amount of time has passed.
If you’re issue is that you spend time doing unnecessary work (this one still gets me sometimes), I’ve got some tips for you.
- Make a list every morning (or the night before) , of the tasks you need to complete. Go through the list and check that each of those things takes you closer to your goal. If you find there’s things on the list that are just ‘fillers’, scratch them from the list.
- When you have an overall task to perform, note the individual actions that will get you there. Commit to sticking to ONLY those actions. If an action shows up along the way, check it moves you closer to your goal and isn’t just ‘fluff’.
- Do the toughest thing first. You’ve probably heard the quote:
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
The hardest, or most difficult thing each day, is most likely the thing that takes you closest to your goal.
So, there’s a few things to get you started. Try the ones that seem best suited to your particular form of procrastination. Also, let me know if you have any anti-procrastination tips to share, in the comments 🙂