I'll do it tomorrow.. Reasons why we procrastinate
I'll do it tomorrow.. Reasons why we procrastinate
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Procrastination is more than just being lazy. What can we do about it?
Everybody can relate to procrastination. You wake up with a to-do list which has 15 items on it. Sixteen hours later, you go to bed and you have only crossed out 1 or 2 items on the list.
You feel guilty. You feel that you could have done more and that you should have done more.
You felt so good the night before and now you feel like shit. We’ve all been there. For many of us, procrastination is the area where we are the most consistent.
Why do we procrastinate ?
Some reasons are quite obvious. We are being lazy, tired or we might have just overestimated the capacity we have to get things done and the time we actually need to achieve them. These are the superficial reasons and to be fair, there might be some truth to it.
However, some reasons are profound and simple laziness could be due to something more than what meets the eye.
We might be scared and the fear we have can be a great motivator to procrastinate, not for a day or two but could easily be a year or more, decades or forever.
Fear can crippled you and prevent you from taking actions. You could be afraid to fail and that’s a great obstacle on the road.
The hurdle is too high so why even try? You can’t fail if you have not tried, so you push it to another day telling yourself that you will always have time to do it at some point in the future.
Another reason you might have is that you really don’t want to do it. By that, I mean you don’t really have an incentive to do it.
It’s not something that is YOU. It’s not something that you think might be beneficial to you or maybe it is but you don’t have the incentive to move forwards.
A simple reason which few mentioned is that you might be taking more than you can handle.
Perhaps you made a new resolution to learn a new language, get your butt to the gym or read a book per week. Start a new diet, stop watching porn and stop eating junk food.
It’s great and achievable but you have decided to do all of it which is virtually impossible to achieve at one time.
Procrastination is not as simple as just being lazy, it is frustrating and infuriating for we tend to self-inflict labels such as lazy and useless without giving it the time and contemplation.
What can we do about procrastination ?
The first thing to do in my humble opinion is to learn how to care for ourselves. Something as simple as kindness can go a long way.
How do we feel after a long day? Where have we underachieved? Frustrated? Hopeless? Useless ? Angsty ?
These are not good feelings and the ensuing consequences are usually feelings of guilt and self-contempt.
The worst part of this is that the worse we feel the more prone we are to procrastination.
So instead of seeing what you have not achieved, use kindness and understanding to help you see what you have actually achieved and this brings me to my other point.
Lower you f***** expectations. We underestimate the time we need to do stuff and overestimate how much we can actually do in a day.
So what we need to do is to trick our minds. Instead of telling yourself I am going to floss my teeth everyday three times a day, just tell yourself that you’re going to floss a tooth once a day.
Instead of telling yourself I am going to go to the gym three times a week for 45 minutes, just stay at home and tell yourself you’ll be doing 10 pushups throughout the day 3 times a week.
If you want to start reading everyday. Don’t tell yourself you are going to read an hour a day, just tell yourself you’re going to read one page a day.
What happens then is that you’re always going to do more. You’re not going to stop at one page. You’ll not stop at one tooth. You’ll be overachieving everyday and your mind will be at ease and at peace.
How do we feel after completing a task that we planned to do? It feels good, right? It’s a great feeling but you don’t need to plan to reach the sky in a few weeks.
Spread it out. Pace yourself and take incremental smaller steps and you’ll get there. Do not underestimate the power of small steps.
Over time, you’ll be able to do more, be more diligent, consistent and disciplined. Sometimes you’ll drop the ball and fall off the wagon, that’s when kindness is there to kick in.
The subsequent point is to reduce the number of items you have on your to-do list. If you have 10 items, reduce it to 3 or 4 or even less.
Which brings me to my other point that I got from Tim Ferris’s book Tools of Titans. In one of the chapters he wrote about how to achieve great things. He also wrote that we should not idealise people who tend to achieve a lot. By that, he means that everybody regardless of their success have a shadow and have setbacks and off days.
He said that to achieve major success is as easy as sitting down checking your to-do list and prioritising.
On this to-do list, check the 2-3 most important items and ask yourself which task on this list is the most important and that it will make me move the furthest.
Once you have chosen the most relevant task. Give yourself 2-3 hours to focus SOLELY on this task. If you get distracted, just go back to your focus and keep on going.
Remember not to feel down when you are discouraged. Shit happens. We can’t always be at 100%.
Once you have achieve this important task, you can go along with your day and complete the other tasks. Or, you can actually procrastinate because those tasks can wait. Which brings me to my final point and I will conclude.
Don’t do something you can do today if you can do it tomorrow because you might die tonight.
This a quote I heard from a talk. If you have read the whole article, you might think it is completely opposed to every thing I just wrote.
You are not wrong but if you look deeper you’ll understand what those words means.
Sometimes we get caught into the doing and we forsake the being. The present moment is valuable and sometimes we waste it on tasks that can wait or do not hold as much meaning to us at the end.
This quote is an invitation to be present and to enjoy. For when we enjoy it, we can actually find what matters to us.
We can actually do what our hearts want us to do and achieve our greatness potential and procrastination will be just a distant memory because everyday we will be doing and being.
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