Procrastination is something that most of us struggle with to varying degrees. For some, it can become such a strong habit that it impedes us from reaching our goals, and may have long-term consequences including feelings of failure or depression. Luckily, procrastination is a phenomenon that can be counteracted daily, using simple motivational techniques. If you find it difficult to overcome your urge to procrastinate, use these 4 tips to take back control of your work, daily life and achieve your goals.
1. Distinguish between short-term and long-term happiness.
When you procrastinate, you are doing what seems best for yourself at that moment, by providing yourself pleasure and comfort. When you do this, you are not distinguishing between what makes you feel happy now and what will make you feel a more sustained happiness in the long-term. If you are struggling with procrastination and feeling anxious about not reaching your goals, chances are you are having trouble distinguishing between these two types of happiness.
When you find yourself procrastinating due to the lure of short-term satisfaction, incorporate a practice in your life that helps you to remember the effects of long-term happiness. For example, for any type of goal, you can journal to record your journey and how you feel when you meet your goals. Afterward, use those journal entries as motivation and reminders of what you truly want as you are working toward further accomplishments.
2. Envision your future self.
Many of us who are prone to procrastination, find that we don’t experience this kind of hesitation when others need our help completing a task. In a way, we only put off helping ourselves. If this sounds like you, you can begin to shake off your procrastination habit by thinking of your future self as your friend. While this thought experiment may sound somewhat corny, it will help you to envision your future self as a concrete human being. This future self needs you to shirk off the small indulgences of the present moment for him, in order to help him and give him a good life.
When you think of your future self, think of where you want that self to be in five or 10 years, and visualise as much detail of that future image as possible. Think of how the little things you do on a daily basis now will affect how that future person lives. Most likely, the positive goals that you are setting for yourself, that you may be procrastinating on working toward, are necessary to give that future self the life you want for him. Throughout your journey of building self-motivation and a habit of productivity, remind yourself of how your small actions can lead you to where you want to be.
3. Get started on tasks for short periods of time.
When you have a big task looming ahead of you, it can appear insurmountable. Perhaps even a small task that seems trivial and boring can tempt you to push it off until tomorrow. One of the best ways to get over the initial inertia of starting a task is to tell yourself that you are only going to do it for a very short period of time.
For example, say you work from home and you know you feel more productive when you get dressed and brush your teeth, but you are comfortable in your pyjamas and don’t want to get up. You can tell yourself that you’re going to get up and get as dressed as quickly as you can in only one minute. Then, start counting to a minute in your head and get dressed as quickly as possible. You may find that this kind of mindset feels like a competitive game with yourself that’s almost fun (albeit a little unconventional!) Try doing something similar with those admin tasks you’ve been putting off too, or even the housework!
4. Refresh yourself.
Self-care is very important for staying productive throughout the day. When you get into a productive mindset, you may have a tendency to stay glued to your chair, staring at your screen for many hours without giving your body a chance to stretch and rest. Diligent activity is definitely a positive thing, but when you don’t move for long periods of time, you might become distracted and unaware that you have stopped working as efficiently as you did when you first sat down.
If you remind yourself to get up and stretch, take a short walk or even just take a few deep belly breaths, your body and brain will thank you. You will probably notice a renewed burst of energy and focus afterward. When you’re becoming restless and losing motivation, taking a walk, getting some fresh air and breathing can completely change your mindset and give you a helpful reboot.
Do you have any helpful tried and tested tricks that ward off procrastination? Let us know in the comments section below!