Eliminate procrastination

by Admin
Updated: July 24, 2018

How to completely eliminate procrastination and the internal struggle that accompanies it

Procrastination is putting off attending to matters until later (literally tomorrow, from Latin cras) that we believe are better attended to without delay. Although it’s generally seen as a bad thing, procrastination is normal behavior and it tells us that we have not framed the tasks in question in terms that engage us.

For most responsible people, procrastination is not a comfortable experience and an internal struggle of guilt and frustration accompanies it. This can devour all the energy that could otherwise be used to break out of the state of procrastination and can be psychologically self-destructive.

As an adult, I’ve never had much of a problem with procrastination because I understand and trust my own psychology.

Causes

The main rationale for procrastination is a lack of instant gratification. We are supposedly strongly motivated to protect our comfort level in the present even if it’s at the expense of our comfort in the future.

Any perceived fears associated with the task at hand are to be avoided (fear of inability/failure) and any alternative activities that reward us instantly are preferred (distractions).

Being primarily concerned with results, none of these reasons really matter - they are just excuses.

Simple solution

Procrastination is overcome by taking action and with many types of work this is straightforward - you do it and it gets done.

E.g. If I have to move a load of bricks by the end of the week and they are moved in time, the job is done and it won’t have mattered how I felt about it.

With other types of work, even though we possess determination, unless we are in the correct mental state, what we produce may not have sufficient value.

E.g. If I have to prepare a number of presentations by the end of the week, they might be unusable if I didn’t have a good attitude when I created them.

With all types of personal endeavor, when enthusiasm is lacking, productivity will be low.

Take a step back

I am busy and there are a lot of things I want to achieve. I don’t have the time or the inclination to have a battle with myself.

I will never win such a battle. I know that if I don’t want to do something, I will not be coerced, not even by myself. No clever tricks will work because I can see through them (after all, I thought them up) and I refuse to be duped.

When I find that I’m internally resisting something, I take a step back to reevaluate it:

  1. Am I right about the need to do it at all?
  2. Would it actually be better to do it later?
  3. Can I get the desired result in an easier way?
  4. Can I reformulate it to be more appealing?
  5. Can I change how I think & feel about it?

The answers

  1. Sometimes it turns out that instincts were involved and a review reveals that the task should not be done at all.
  2. Sometimes the task can & should be put off until later. Situations can change or disappear completely - see #1.
  3. Lateral thinking can transform a task that seems challenging into one that can be tackled with confidence.
  4. Usually if a task is unappealing, a little effort at reorganizing it exposes a few details that can be completed with relative ease. This creates a hook into the main task.
  5. It is possible to eliminate negative thoughts & feelings simply by choosing to enjoy the process.

In principle, when none of these measures help, it’s simply a case of having to shut up & step up. In practice, I’ve always found a way to get some satisfaction from a task worth doing.

More info

“Procrastination” at psychologytoday.com.

“Procrastination: A Scientific Guide on How to Stop Procrastinating” at jamesclear.com.

“Why Procrastinators Procrastinate” feat. the Instant Gratification Monkey at waitbutwhy.com (Tim Urban).

“procrastination xkcd” via Google images.

Internal links

Kickstart personal productivity Micro tasks Failstorming Go to Articles
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