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Do you struggle with procrastination? Procrastination is the silent killer of productivity, the thief of time, and the one vice almost everyone struggles with.
We all know how putting off important tasks until the last minute feels, but why do we do it? And more importantly, how can we stop?
Let’s explore the reasons for procrastination and tips for overcoming it to achieve success.
What Is the Main Cause of Procrastination?
A study by Psychology professor Dr. Joseph Ferrari indicated that about 20% of adults are chronic procrastinators. Other research supports that procrastinators deal with more stress than others and are more likely to develop anxiety.
When thinking about this research, it makes a lot of sense. First, when you procrastinate, you’re still anxious about not completing the work. Then, when it is time to finish it, you’re also stressed about having so little time.
It’s a vicious cycle, so why do we keep doing it? There are various reasons why people procrastinate, and these reasons include:
- Lack of trust in one’s abilities
- Feeling overwhelmed by the task’s magnitude
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
How to Overcome Procrastination
Use SMART Goals
So your goal is to become a millionaire. That’s a great goal, but it’s also vague.
As you move through life, you’ll find it much easier to succeed when your goals are defined. An excellent technique to do this is to use the SMART goal-setting system.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound, describing all the criteria you must follow when setting goals. These are the qualities your goals must possess to be achievable.
For example, instead of saying, “My goal is to become a millionaire,” the goal becomes: “My goal is to earn a million dollars in a year by improving and marketing my skills and earning capacity. I will do this by doing [X] hours of [skill development or marketing] every day.”
“I want to become a genius programmer” becomes “I will become a genius programmer in a year by dedicating [X] hours of learning every day. I will take [X] courses and complete [X] projects every [X] weeks.”
Victorian-era novelist Anthony Trollope used a 15-minute routine to write over 40 novels to tackle procrastination. Rather than gauging his success by the number of chapters he wrote, he aimed to write 250 words in 15 minutes.
By writing in small chunks, he could complete his books faster than if he had written long chapters all at once. Trollope shows that by breaking your tasks into smaller chunks, i.e., chunking, you can deal with bulky or boring projects better.
Another approach is to identify the smallest possible action you can take toward your goal and commit to doing it immediately.
For example, if you’re struggling to start a writing project, you could commit to writing just one sentence or outlining one paragraph.
Work in Pomodoro Sprints
The Pomodoro Technique, named after the eponymous time management book published in the 90s by Francesco Cirillo, is one of the easiest and most effective time management techniques.
All it requires is a timer and the determination to stick to time. When you take Pomodoro sprints, you work for short intervals and take breaks in between those intervals.
Set your timer for 15 minutes of deep, uninterrupted work, and until the timer rings, you must keep working. After the ring, you can take a five-minute break before returning to work for another 15 minutes.
Our world is full of distractions. More often than not, your phone or computer is pinging notifications. The internet, as a whole, contributes significantly to distractions.
To eliminate distractions, consider using website blockers or apps that limit your time on social media and other nonessential websites. You can also explore productive ways to spend your time online, like taking courses or exploring online side hustles.
Most importantly, remember that an overwhelming load of tasks can be distracting. You can keep this under control by maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Types of Procrastination
Procrastination can manifest in various ways, and individuals may experience it differently. According to psychologist Dr. Linda Sapadin, these are the common types of procrastination:
- The Dreamer: Someone who spends too much time fantasizing and imagining possibilities instead of taking action.
- The Perfectionist: Someone who puts off tasks until they feel they can complete them flawlessly, leading to a cycle of procrastination.
- The Worrier: Someone who gets overwhelmed by anxiety and overthinks things, leading to delays.
- The Crisis Maker: Someone who waits until the last minute and works under high pressure, leading to increased stress and decreased productivity.
- The Defier: Someone who procrastinates to resist authority or expectations.
- The Overdoer: Someone who over-commits and takes on too many tasks, leading to paralysis and delay.
Understanding the type of procrastination you engage in helps you identify the root cause and take targeted action to overcome it.
Does Procrastinating Mean “Lazy?”
Contrary to popular opinion, procrastination is only sometimes due to laziness. Procrastination often results from poor mood management rather than laziness.
Laziness is typically defined as an unwillingness to do work. Lazy people demonstrate an aversion toward work that is not found in procrastinators. Unlike procrastination, laziness is not characterized by a lack of motivation, self-control, or conducive moods.
A lazy person can have the proper motivation to work but refuse to do so because they dislike expending effort. So, if you procrastinate, it does not mean you’re lazy.
Crush Procrastination With Your Motivation
An effective way to stop procrastinating is to stay motivated and disciplined. The power of positive self-talk and affirmations cannot be overemphasized.
Crushing procrastination involves a combination of mental and practical strategies, including the following:
- Confronting negative, unhelpful thoughts and feelings that lead to procrastination. A common mistake we make when trying to stop procrastination is to block out all negative thoughts.
- Identifying your values and goals to clarify what’s truly important to you.
- Planning and breaking your tasks into manageable steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
- Finding motivators, such as accountability partners, music, or affirmations, to stay focused and energized. Whether you’re interested in starting a business or making money from blogging, find what motivates you to keep going.
- Setting up a reward system to incentivize yourself for progress and celebrate your successes.
- Lowering your expectations and committing to consistent progress, even if it’s imperfect.
Be Productive and Achieve Your Goals
Procrastination is a virus that attacks your productivity. Luckily, you can take steps toward achieving a more productive lifestyle.
By adopting the SMART goal-setting system, chunking, and eliminating distractions, you’ll be well on your way to overcoming procrastination.
Start by identifying the type of procrastinator you are and tackle it accordingly while remembering that your procrastination does not mean you are lazy.
Finally, push through procrastination with determination and stay motivated. You can achieve success.
This article originally appeared on Financially Well Off.