Are you a procrastinator? How much time do you spend each day procrastinating? 10, 20, 30 minutes or more? If you are like most people, it is probably a lot. Procrastination can really take control of your life and keep you from accomplishing the things that matter to you.
People tend to ignore the long-term consequence of procrastination. When they have important tasks to complete, for college students, for instance, strongly related to their academic performance, they tend to prefer watching TV or other enjoyable activities pushing important tasks till tomorrow.
Research shows that, among the external factors that determine procrastination, people active on social media develop a sort of self-regulation failure. The dopamine fix they get from the simple scroll of social media posts wins over any time management technique draining vital mental health energy. Of course, there are individual differences, but this behavior is even more acute when a deadline approaches making life more difficult.
But don’t worry!
This blog post will walk you through 7 ways to stop procrastinating and finally finish your project for good. So let’s get started!
The term originates from the Latin procrastinatus, which derives from the prefix pro-, meaning “forward,” and crastinus, meaning “of tomorrow.”
It could also be defined as the habitual or deliberately delayed starting or completing a task despite knowing it might have negatively affected outcomes. It frequently involves disruptions in usual everyday chores, especially household chores, and completing a job report or academic assignment.
Procrastination is the action or habit of procrastinating or putting off or delaying things until later, postponed and kept waiting for an indefinite period.
It’s a term coined to describe various behaviors, including the production of an inadequate amount of work, short bursts of productivity with long periods of procrastination in between, and overall low productivity levels.
Procrastination can lead to unnecessary distress. This is because procrastinators spend so much time worrying about how they will do this thing they have been putting off when they should just get started in reality. It also dramatically increases the chances that procrastinators will look unattractive and less competent than they are.
A procrastinator might experience feelings of guilt and shame; procrastination can also harm their physical well-being. This is because procrastinators are more likely to overeat or undereat food while they are procrastinating.
Procrastination should not be looked at as something that negatively impacts the life of the procrastinator and impacts those around them. Family members of procrastinators often have to pick up more slack because their partners are not helping them. Children who grow up with parents or guardians who procrastinate can develop a negative self-image and struggle with feelings of helplessness.
Why do people procrastinate?
Behavioral psychologists found one phenomenon called time inconsistency. Time inconsistency refers to our tendency to value immediate reward more highly than future reward.
In the context of behavioral economics, time inconsistency is related to how a decision-maker may have different preferences over current and future choices.
One common way in which selves may differ in their preferences is they may be modeled as all holding the view that “now” has high value compared to any future time. This is sometimes called the “immediacy effect” or “temporal discounting.”
As a result, the present self will care too much about itself and not enough about its future selves. The self-control literature relies heavily on this type of time inconsistency. It relates to various topics, including procrastination, addiction, efforts at weight loss, and saving for retirement.
Fear of failure and low self-esteem
Procrastination is when people do not do things they should. This could be because of fear or because they are distracted by other tasks. Fear of failure is especially dangerous for those with low self-esteem. Low confidence can also cause procrastination more often. People who have negative thoughts about their ability might feel that they cannot succeed and then do not try at all. People can become affected by any combination of these factors: perfectionism, fear of negative feedback, and low self-esteem.
People who are perfectionists can be afraid of making mistakes. Then they end up not doing any work at all because they’re scared about how it will turn out. If you are good at doing tasks quickly, then perfectionism is not a problem for you. Sometimes, perfectionists only have issues when the perfect result is so important to them that it ends up holding them back from completing anything at all.
Some people procrastinate because they have so much stress about one task. Those feeling anxious about paying their bills should not do it in one way or another. This problem can primarily occur for those people whose fear increases from prolonged inactivity. This may lead to a feedback loop where one feels anxious to procrastinate, which causes them to procrastinate instead and makes them more anxious, which in turn causes procrastinating even more. People who are anxious about some task will sometimes hesitate to accomplish it or give up when they feel they can.
Decision Paralysis is when you can’t decide what to do. You might feel stuck and like you don’t know what to do. Deciding between two choices can be difficult, especially when neither choice has any clear advantages over the other one. People often feel paralyzed by their inability to choose which option they should go with, causing them not to pick either one even though both might have been equally as good if not better than the other. Decision paralysis can keep you from achieving your goals, succeeding in school or at work, and enjoying life the way you deserve it.
People sometimes procrastinate because they don’t take action right away. This can happen in just about any way, for example, when someone could not decide how to proceed. Every time we have to make a decision, it takes up some of our brainpower, even when it is easy to make. This kind of procrastination is also called “decisional procrastination.” It’s different from behavioral procrastination, which happens when someone waits too long between getting started on a task and choosing their preferred path.
When a task is bigger than you can handle, it can make you feel overwhelmed. When this happens, you might not want to do the unpleasant tasks at all, or if you try to do it, then it makes you too stressed before it’s over. For example, suppose your house needs a lot of cleaning before guests come over and they are coming soon. In that case, this could make you too stressed and make the job hard. If a job is difficult for us to complete because of our feelings about doing the work or because we don’t have enough time or energy to complete the task in question adequately.
Procrastination habits can be so disempowering that we need to work on simple systems to overcome them. When procrastination occurs, the present self might feel good as the unpleasant tasks were procrastinated, but the future self will pay the price. Since our time is limited, we need to get the best out of every single minute we’re alive. Therefore, we need to follow a simple system that can help us overcome procrastination.
Let’s see how!
How to Overcome Procrastination
1. Set a deadline for yourself and stick to it
This might seem like an obvious one, but many people skip it because they don’t want to feel pressured into completing their work quickly for fear of not doing a good enough job. However, to fight procrastination, set an initial deadline for yourself so that there is at least some pressure. Self-imposed deadlines are very effective when they’re reasonable and achievable.
2. Start small — break down the large task into smaller, manageable tasks
Breaking down the larger tasks into smaller ones allows you to take on minor tasks one at a time. This can be especially helpful for procrastinators who are overwhelmed by the task at hand, as they will now have fewer tasks to do before getting closer to completion. This can also help procrastinators build self-discipline and feel better about all of the work they have accomplished along the way.
When you have a long list of tasks for the day that needs to be completed, it can become overwhelming and daunting. You start thinking about how long each task will take, which causes self-doubt as well as uncertainty. One way to avoid this is by breaking up projects into smaller tasks to make it easier to stay focused on what’s in front of you.
3. Write down your thoughts on what you need to do to finish the project
Journalling is a great way to track your progress and to organize ideas about the task at hand.
Writing down what needs to be done can help you visualize your tasks and prioritize them accordingly and give you an idea of how long each part may take so that you can plan out when certain parts need to be done by.
It can also help you determine what needs to be completed for the project to meet your expectations and other requirements, such as deadlines or particular specifications. Writing down your progress along the way gives an idea of how long a project will take and what areas you need to work on. Journalling not only helps with organization, but it also can help you see your progress along the way so that nothing gets forgotten or skipped over as the deadline approaches.
4. Remove distractions from your workspace so that you can focus on one thing at a time
By removing unnecessary items in the workspace, you reduce clutter which means that there are fewer things for you to do other than what is essential for completing your project.
It becomes easier to stay focused without procrastinating when the environment around us helps us concentrate better. If it’s possible, remove all forms of distractions from your workspace. This could be anything that pulls our attention away, such as social media notifications on the computer screens or even people walking in and out of the room without any warning.
Removing distractions from your workspace will make it easier to focus on a long list of tasks without being overwhelmed or doubting yourself. This means that the work gets done faster and more efficiently, which is beneficial for long-term consequences and avoids procrastination in the long run.
5. Create an accountability system
An accountability partner greatly increases the chance of someone finishing their work because they are held responsible for what’s in front of them.
Having an accountability partner, whether a friend or family member, means that you must complete your project by the deadline; otherwise, there will be consequences such as judgment or embarrassment. Also, you can consider a form of monetary punishment where you pay your accountability partner a sum of money for every day that you miss.
An accountability system aims to avoid procrastination and self-doubt, two things that will prevent someone from completing their project on time. To avoid these feelings in the first place, focus on building confidence by believing in yourself and reminding yourself how important it is to finish the given task.
Choose wisely your accountability partner as she has to motivate you when things get complicated and give you honest feedback.
Remember that the more projects you complete, the easier it will become, and soon enough, finishing your work won’t seem like such a daunting task!
6. Reward yourself when you complete each task at hand
Our brains prefer to be involved in activities that give them a dopamine fix. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter related to appealing activities. When you cross a task off your to-do list, your nervous system releases dopamine, and you feel satisfied.
Your brain works through associations, which means that the next time you’re doing a similar task, you’ll find it easier to focus on because your brain will be waiting for that dopamine fix.
Every time you complete a single task, from the smaller ones in your schedule to the big goal you’ve been dreaming of, give yourself permission to be rewarded. It can be anything as simple as clapping, smiling, screaming, eating your favorite dish, anything you like.
Doing this encourages your brain to keep on performing the activities that led to that result. In the long run, you will make goal-achieving your second nature. So, reward yourself!
7. Dedicate time every day to work on your project, even if it’s just 10 minutes at a time
Procrastination can be a self-sabotaging habit, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. You should dedicate some time every day, even if it’s just ten minutes at a time. By doing this, you build a habit of continuous progress where self-discipline takes over.
It’s the self-discipline that will get you through when things get tough, and with a bit of preparation, even when you believe the world is coming to an end, you can go to bed happy since you have that sense of accomplishment from those ten minutes of effort.
Set a recurring appointment on your planner to work on that job, no matter what, and it’ll be done in no time!
So there you have it.
Seven neuroscience-backed tips that can help you beat procrastination and finally get your project done! Now, let’s take a look at how these principles apply to different projects.
For example, if the task is to write an article like this one, I would recommend setting small achievable goals throughout the process, such as writing two paragraphs every hour or having someone else read over each day before publishing it on social media channels.
This way, you make sure to stay motivated and make progress without feeling discouraged by not seeing any results after just five minutes of hard work.
What are some other ways in which these principles might be applied?
Share them with us in the comments below!