Come back tomorrow and I’m sure I’ll have written about it by then.
Bad jokes aside, procrastination is a nasty little bugger.
The thing about procrastination is it seeps into all areas of life. The thing about procrastination is it can feel overwhelming.
The thing about procrastination is one minute you’re thinking about taking out the trash after dinner, and the next thing you know it’s 2:15 in the morning and you’re sitting in front of the computer with blood-shot eyes, overdosed on cat videos and depictions of everybody else’s glorious life on social media.
And the garbage still hasn’t been taken out.
I used to see procrastination as this small troll sneaking up on me when I was alone and vulnerable, where it would secretly devour my good intentions and replace them with anxiety and bad excuses.
What I’ve learned when combating it in my own life is procrastination is a large tiger driving up to me in a monster truck, getting out and flailing its paws right in front of me; the stench of its warm roar invading my face.
I saw it, I knew it was there, but I’m the one who decided to ignore the obvious. I tried to convince myself that ignorance is bliss. After all, I had good intentions. I was just going to take a little break before doing what I needed.
That is where the hogwash begins.
Good Intentions Don’t Get Things Done
Sure, I’m a good person and I may have the best of intentions for saying yes to a project or agreeing to help somebody out.
At the end of the day, if there isn’t follow-through, then I’ve failed. Sure, the feeling of failure is enough to beat me up, but what’s worse is procrastination deteriorates the trust in my relationships.
And trust is a tough thing to get back. Even when it means trusting myself.
You Don’t Have to Do Anything – You Choose to Do (or Not Do) Something
Those dishes piling up in the sink, you don’t have to do them.
You get to choose to do them or not do them.
If you don’t do them you aren’t going to die. If you don’t do them the world isn’t going to fall apart. You may end up on a future episode of Hoarders, but you don’t have to do them.
Instead of focusing on the task of scraping dried food from ceramic, make a decision to determine the best situation you would like to see.
Do you want to wake up tomorrow and and have a clean sink and dishes to use for breakfast, or do you want to wake up to fruit flies and dank smells? Stop basing actions on the tasks you want to complete, and instead base your actions on the outcome you want.
The Best Way to Get Something Done is to Just Do It
Think less about the things to do and how to do them, and start with the first task that comes to your mind. Once you’ve thought of that single task, do it. Realize that if you don’t do it, then it’s not going to get done, and your future self is going to be mad at your current self.
What does that mean? Well this video has a great explanation and overview of procrastination:
My Procrastination Isn’t Going to Go Away
I’ve come to realize my procrastination isn’t going to simply vanish. I wont wake up one day and no longer have the urge.
Procrastination is more like an addiction. If I don’t learn how to abstain from the things that derail my productivity, it’s going to quickly lead to a slippery slope.
I know that I have to learn to deal with it. I need to know how to work around it, so there’s a few things I do, to help myself be a better version of myself.
Make a List
List making can help create focus, but for some, list making in and of itself is a procrastination technique. Ironic, huh? For me, this was totally the case.
I’m pretty productive when I have a list of things to do, because checking off something feels oh so sweet.
So I trick myself in feeling the reward of getting something accomplished without getting caught up in the perfectionism of creating a complete list of everything I need to do. Doing this was two-fold.
Keep the List Short
First, when I create a list of what I need to do for the day, I limit it to only five things. That’s right, five! Not a single one more.
A five item list is super quick to make, and creates enough focus for me to get things done.
Don’t focus too hard on which tasks to include. Just take the first five things to pop into your head, and get to it. Don’t let anything else stand in your way.
I don’t add a single thing to the list until all five things are crossed off.
If I still have time for the day, I can create an additional list with five things (or less), but not until my first list is completely done. This usually doesn’t happen, as I often underestimate the amount of time completing the list will actually take.
Create a Post-Productivity List
Second, at the end of the day, I create what I call a post-productivity list. it’s a list of everything I accomplished that day.
This is a list I can spend as much time as I want on, because I’m only making these at the end of the day. I’m only using my free time.
This post-productivity list does one of two things for me. If I completed a lot of tasks, it makes me realize how much I was able to accomplish. This puts me in good spirits seeing lots of things on the list. Also, if somebody asks me what I did that day, I simply spew off the things on the list and they won’t see me as some lazy fluffball.
If I am being a lazy fluffball one day, I come up with a very short list. This makes me feel like crap, which in turn makes me think about how positive I felt when I had a long list. This encourages me to actually be productive the next day.
Quit Procrastinating on Overcoming Procrastination
As procrastinators know from experience, the longer the wait, the worse things become.
As much as I like to try to hack my life to make it more efficient and automated, I’ve come to the realization is procrastination can’t be hacked. It must be dealt with.
The bottom line for me is this: I’m not going to rid myself of the tendency to procrastination, so the best thing I can do when I need to do something is to just do it.
What are your favorite ways to overcome the urge to procrastinate?