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Procrastination can be referred to as the biggest enemy of modern civilization today. With the dreaded internet, never has it been so convenient to procrastinate. There are reasons that prove how procrastination can actually help us get more done. However, few can deny the guilt that haunts us during and after the procrastination spell.
If you’re bright you’re more likely to procrastinate
In his New York Times bestselling book Getting Things Done David Allen writes that bright people are more likely to procrastinate. This is because their sensitivity, creativity and intelligence makes them imagine all the consequences that come with performing a task. Basically bright people are more likely to overthink things. If the action is undesirable, we’ll imagine all the negative feelings that come with performing the task. And if the action is important, our fear of not doing it perfectly enough leads us to internally freak out. So we put off doing the task. Until we’ve completely resolved all the consequences that will come with the action (good or bad) internally first.
Dealing with procrastination mentally
There’s comfort in knowing that you’re not the only one who suffers from procrastination. However, there comes a time in our lives where we literally cannot afford to procrastinate. It’s in these moments where procrastination can harm us financially as well. In such cases Allen provides 5 things you can do to overcome procrastination where it begins: in your mind.
1. Intelligibly dumbing down
This is essentially putting an end to the overthinking through action. According to Allen, “you’ll feel a relieving of pressure about anything you have a commitment to do when you decide on the very next physical action required to move it forward.” He further adds that “shifting your focus to something that your mind perceives as a doable task will create a real increase in positive energy, direction and motivation.” The first step is to capture everything that requires your attention in a list. Then deciding on the very next action to take on each one of them.
Sometimes you know what the end goal is, but you’re just unclear on what it is that you have to do to accomplish it. This is especially common in group work environments where discussions in meetings don’t end in clear actionable conclusions. This could lead to tasks being delayed and deadlines being postponed due to a collective effort of procrastination. According to Allen in such scenarios, one should force the question:” So what’s the next action here?” Once this question has been posed a process of clarity begins which may lead to deeper questions. These questions include “Do I really know what I’m doing here?” “Is this really worth me allocating my time and resources towards” and “Am I really serious about this?”
Forcing clarity for the next decision prevents things from slipping away into the “save it for never” folder of our procrastination file.
Being accountable to someone other than yourself can play a huge role in kicking procrastination out the door. When we have nobody but ourselves to be accountable towards we tend to be more lenient when it comes to self-discipline. An hour break on Netflix, becomes 5. And you’ve had a long week right? So you deserve it. Unfortunately such allowing behavior we have towards ourselves can prevent us from realizing lucrative opportunities. Especially when external factors that we didn’t consider crop up minutes before the submission deadline.
A great way to add accountability to your life is to plug yourself into a group of like minded people where each of you will keep each other accountable. At the beginning of each week you can all detail what actions you would like to accomplish by the end of that week. Then check up on each other’s progress at the end of each week. This could lead to tremendous results with regards to your productivity. Allowing you to challenge yourself to new heights.
4. Resource for productivity
The excuse for not having the right resources to perform a task can be a major driver for procrastination. How many of us slightly feel excited when internet connectivity issues mean that we have a great reason to get zero work done? When an important task needs to get done make sure that you are in an environment that’s rightly resourced for you to complete it effectively. That scratches out working at a coffee shop that has a weak internet connection. Or working remotely when what you need to do strongly requires the input of your colleagues.
Once each task has been decided on, list the resources that you’ll need to complete it effectively. Then make sure you have those resources as you complete each task. No excuses allowed.
This concerns being the captain of your own ship. According to Allen, “people are constantly doing things, but usually when they have to. Under fire from themselves or others. They get no sense of winning, or being in control.” The biggest motivator against procrastination is getting things going of your own accord-before you’re forced to by external pressure and internal stress. When you attach a personal motive to any task, where you see it as a step closer towards something bigger this changes your perception. The dry mundane task that you want to save for later, now becomes a deposit towards a better future. The more you act against procrastination the more empowered you are. Before you know it, you’ll become a powerful, effective person making things happen in your life.