One of the biggest obstacles we face when trying to reach our goals is our lack of motivation to even get started. Whether we're putting off scheduling an appointment or just avoiding the tedious project with a looming deadline, procrastination is a significant problem.
This may be because we put things off until “someday.” Because “someday” doesn't appear on the calendar, our good intentions never turn into action unless we create deadlines. Before we tackle the strategies that can help to beat procrastination, increase motivation, and decrease the tendency to procrastinate, let us first identify the question, “Why do I procrastinate?”
Why do we procrastinate?
There are hefty amounts of reasons why we procrastinate. Some reasons may even vary from person to person, but if we don’t properly identify our reason, we cannot formulate a proper solution to breaking the cycle of procrastination.
For many people, procrastination is a strong and mysterious force that keeps them from completing the most urgent and important tasks in their lives with the same strength as when you try to bring like poles of a magnet together.
But people often procrastinate because they are averse to the tasks that they need to perform. For example, if you need to make an important phone call to someone you dislike, you might end up procrastinating instead of just getting it done because you don’t want to talk to them.
This occurs because, in general, the more people find a certain task unappealing, the more likely they are to want to avoid it, and therefore the more likely they are to procrastinate. It's also a potentially dangerous force, causing victims to fail out of school, perform poorly at work, put off medical treatment or delay saving for retirement.
A Case Western Reserve University study from 1997 found that college-age procrastinators ended up with higher stress, more illness, and lower grades by the end of the semester.
There Are Many Ways on How to Beat Procrastination
We go over the top ways that are more effective for you to beat procrastination.
Break Goals Into Manageable Chunks
When you only focus on the big picture, it can be easy to put things off until later. Wishing you could quit your day job to launch a startup, or hoping you could lose 50 pounds fall into the “someday” category.
However, if you break down your goals into smaller, more manageable objectives, then you can move them into the present category and start working on the steps to complete the more modest goals.
You can break down goals in numerous ways to overcome procrastination. Breaking down your goals by time, quantity and actionable steps does not only help on how to cure procrastination, but it also makes your goals clear and organized.
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Creating a Task List can also help with procrastination since milestones are still big steps, so you need to break them further. Therefore, make a list of specific tasks necessary to achieve each milestone. Begin with the first one and take your time to complete every segment.
When setting your goals, it’s crucial to make sure that your goals are as clear as possible, since you are more likely to procrastinate when it comes to goals that are vague, compared to goals that are clearly defined.
Goals should be something ‘Achievable’ meaning that your goals should be realistic enough that you can actually accomplish them, and ‘Meaningful’ meaning that your goals should be substantial enough that they lead you to make notable progress. And help on how to overcome procrastination.
Starting on a task or significant project is hard, but if you can get over that initial hump you'll gain some momentum, and your brain will more likely annoy you to keep working on the task. This is due to what is known as the Zeigarnik effect, a psychological phenomenon that says unfinished tasks are more likely to get stuck in your memory.
This phenomenon is also why your to-do list continues to pop into your head until you write it down. By following on and starting on an easy task, it would gradually help in dealing with procrastination.
Fear of failure and perfectionism are at the root of some procrastination. To beat this particular type of procrastination, science suggests you start by listening to your inner monologue and flag the thinking that is less than favorable. If you catch yourself saying things like, “This will be a catastrophe,” or “I need this project to be perfect,” start taming your anxiety with a deceptively simple-sounding intervention so that you can also work on the thought “why can’t I stop procrastinating”
An easy way you can do this is by doubting your doubts. This can be accomplished by shaking your head while you are thinking those thoughts. While it may sound simple, recent studies say that it can help with the chronically uncertain.
If you put off a task long enough, then you don’t have to face up to the potential, and usually imagined negative results. If you’re a stickler for minor details, the stress of getting things “just right” may be too much and cause you to delay continuing the task. Either way, fear is at the root cause and can sabotage your desire to move forward, and it can also be the same reason you are thinking “I can’t stop procrastinating”
Work on diminishing the importance of doing things perfectly and emphasize the importance of completing tasks in a timely fashion. Keep a list of examples of times when perfectionism has been unhelpful to you, and of times when task completion has been more helpful to you.
Procrastination is the number one killer of productivity. It is a tough problem to solve, but if you’re willing to follow the necessary steps in order to create a good plan of action, and if you’re willing to then put in the effort in order to follow through on your plan of action, you have a great chance at being able to answer the question, “how to stop procrastinating”. To increase your productivity and get more done, try these simple ways to beat procrastination and see how it can change your life.