Five simple keys to overcoming procrastination

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It’s stealing a ton of your time, it’s making you miserable, it just sucks. And it always happens at the least convenient time. 

There are so many potential reasons for procrastination. Maybe the task is too boring, maybe it’s too complicated; maybe you’re overworked, maybe you’re let yourself too loose. It could be you being afraid to not be perfect. 

Whatever it is, the result is the same – you find it hard to do the things you have to do.

The most difficult thing is to start.

And I don’t mean an actual start of a project – it’s not the only one that matters. Until it’s finished, you’re going to have to start every day (every work day that is) and it will be the hardest every time. 

There’s not that much you can do about it and I think you should just force the first thing. It’s different for everybody. If you’re trying to learn something the first thing would be opening the book. If you need to write something the first thing is taking pen and paper (or opening the software of your choice on your computer).

When we’re procrastinating, we’re spending a lot of our time thinking about starting. 

“I’m just gonna watch one more episode and then I’ll do it”. You have to call bullshit every time you have that kind of thought. 

Do that little first thing. Changing into gym clothes sounds hell of a lot easier than actually working out. When you’ve accomplished a first thing, do a second one. And then another one and you’ll be done with a thing you needed to do soon enough.

Splitting a big project into smaller bite sized pieces helps tremendously. 

It can be frightening to write an essay in one sitting. It just seems hard. But if you think of it like okay, I’m going to open my resources and then I’ll do my research there and then I will write a hundred words, it gets that much easier. Just rinse and repeat writing the next hundred words. 

It doesn’t have to be perfect then and there. You’ll be able to clean it up and make it better later – write something.

If you like making to do lists as much as me, I suggest putting those bite sized tasks there instead of a whole project. 

It’ll give you the satisfaction of crossing out stuff you did without you having to accomplish an unrealistic amount of work. I used to put something like write an essay, same wordson each day of the week when I needed to write said essay. I would still postpone it and cram it all in the last night before the deadline or wouldn’t do it at all, because it felt like I had to actually write the whole thing in one sitting, otherwise I couldn’t cross out that task. 

It all happens unconsciously. When you need to clean your apartment, don’t think I have to clean my apartment. It’s daunting, it feels like this gigantic thing. 

Instead, think I need to clean the bathroom sink. Only then think of the next thing you’d like to do. You can even have breaks in between; it really helps your mind to not be put off of the entire project.

Feeling of accomplishing something is crucial in the battle with procrastination. 

Training yourself is kinda similar to training a dog – giving yourself a treat is a positive reinforcement and will heighten the chances of going through your to do list easier the next time. 

The difference is that unlike the dog you don’t necessarily need an actual treat, for the most part the feeling you get when you’ve successfully done something is enough. But of course, you always can add something onto it and reward yourself with your favorite stuff – chocolate, few episodes of a TV show, a night out with your friends – the possibilities are endless.

You have to always remember that being perfect is not necessarily the end goal

If you’re afraid of imperfection, reaching your destination is going to be incredibly hard because of all of the mental beating up you’ll do to yourself. 

Most of the time perfection is unattainable at all. 

Sometimes even having done everything perfectly you’re still going to see all the flaws that are not really even there. Cut yourself some slack. Breathe. Don’t try to give it a hundred percent every time. There are those days when you can give only a half of that and it’s okay and pressuring yourself to go farther won’t do you any good. 

If you having a hard time dealing with unnecessary perfectionism (and it’s incredibly rare when it’s actually necessary) I suggest working on it with a therapist. Because even if it doesn’t seem like a big deal to you right now, it will only poison your life and happiness in the future.

It’s good to have a set schedule but don’t commit to too much too quickly. 

Don’t make a schedule for a month, year or even the rest of your life – you’ll never stick to it, plans will change, times will change. 

Map out the next week only, but have a general idea in mind about your goals for longer periods. To actually commit to a schedule, you have to ease into it slowly without trying to dive in head first from the get go.

Remember that you’re the only person who can change you, your habits and your attitude. 

If nothing I mentioned seems to make any difference for you, then surely you need to dig deeper to find out what causes your tendency to procrastinate. If you’re stuck, the right way to go about it is to visit a psychotherapist. 

Don’t hesitate, the quicker you deal with it the better – in the long run procrastination will not only mess with your personal and professional life, but will slowly take your happiness away from you.Disclaimer: I’m not a mental health specialist, just sharing my knowledge and personal experiences. As always, I suggest you take everything with a grain of salt and double check all the information you get.

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