We all know we shouldn’t procrastinate. Still, there’s an inner urge that tells us to do something else instead of the thing we should be doing.
When you know you should start writing a paper today, suddenly you feel like ordering your shoes by color. You pick something useful to do so that you can convince yourself you’re not wasting your time. That’s the kind of tricks your mind plays on you.
Have you ever wondered how procrastination was ruining your life? We’re not exaggerating. It really is. Don’t worry; there’s a way to stop this habit from making you less productive than you really are.
How Procrastination Is Ruining Your Life
Procrastination is the opposite thing of prioritizing. When you make priorities, you know you’re going to achieve the most important goals on your list. Here’s an example of a list a college student could have for today:
- Attend classes
- Do the research for that sociology paper
- Write an outline
- Study for philosophy course
- Tidy up
- Watch the latest episode of Twin Peaks
A really productive student would take care of all these tasks by order. He has priorities. A procrastinator, on the other hand, would act differently. He would attend classes, mainly because that’s a habit. Right after classes, he’ll have coffee with friends. By the time he gets home, he’ll be too tired to do anything, so he’ll just take a nap.
After that, his mind will start playing the tricks: “I really can’t deal with that paper right now. I’ll tidy up first. I was gonna do that anyway. I won’t watch Twin Peaks tonight and I’ll have time for the research and outline. I’ll skip the studying; I’ll do that tomorrow.”
After cleaning up the room (which will take way more time than necessary), this student will be tired again. He’ll watch the TV show anyway and leave the priority tasks for tomorrow. The problem is: tomorrow comes with other priorities. Procrastination is messing up with all our goals. This student will probably end up binge studying before the exams, without getting the best possible results.
Do you see how procrastination makes us less in many different ways? We waste our time and we’re not meeting important goals. That fact affects our self-esteem. We feel we’re less than the people who accomplish more than us. Let’s not even mention all the opportunities we miss just because we convince ourselves that there’s always the next time. Procrastination ruins our lives. That’s a fact.
How to Beat Procrastination
- Define Goals and Milestones
The student from the example above had goals and still didn’t reach them. That’s highly likely to occur when you’re a natural at procrastination. Still, you need the goals. Write down the goals for tomorrow before you go to bed. Set them by priorities.
This is the trick that’s going to help: go through that list this evening, before you write the goals for tomorrow. What did you achieve and where did you fail? Don’t beat yourself down over this. Just acknowledge the fact that you didn’t accomplish important goals and transfer them in tomorrow’s schedule.
As you keep doing this, you’re developing the habit of evaluation. You’ll be recognizing the ways you’re procrastinating. Knowing the enemy is important when you want to beat it.
- When You Feel the Urge to Procrastinate a Task, Do It for 10 Minutes
Instead of saying “I’ll just do the research for this paper tomorrow,” give yourself 10 minutes to search through online resources. This is a really effective trick that stops you from procrastinating.
It’s easy to convince yourself to keep doing something important for 10 minutes. That’s a short time. You’ll be ashamed to decline the offer. Get your timer and set it to 10 minutes. Then, start doing that priority task with full focus. No social media, no other distractions. It’s just 10 minutes.
You’ll notice how this trick convinces you it’s possible to do something you plan. When you spend that short time doing the important task, it’s highly possible you’ll want to keep doing it for another 10 minutes.
- Set Up a Reward System
When you’re really productive, you deserve a reward. What would you like? A spa treatment? An evening spent in binge-watching the entire season of your favorite TV show? A weekend getaway with your special one? New equipment for your hobby?
Pick a reward and look forward to it. As long as you complete all tasks by their deadlines, you’ll treat yourself for being so productive.
Are you ready to beat this sneaky enemy? You’re strong enough to fight your own mind! Use the tricks above to develop new habits that keep procrastination at bay.