Have you been so busy doing things you don’t need to do, in order to avoid the things that you should be doing? Yes? Well, I guess we’re all guilty of doing it at one point or another…
Do you ever wonder if procrastination is a character trait? Is it permanently embedded in our DNA or is it something we have the power to change?
Thankfully, it isn’t a permanent trait, and we can work on revising our mindset to overcome it!
I think a lot of us recognize that procrastinating propels momentary satisfaction, it gives us this instant gratification, that doing what we’re supposed to, doesn’t. Guess that’s why, against our better judgment, we still do it.
Let’s face it…
It does feel good to scroll mindlessly through Instagram, thinking we can get things done later. However, when the day ends, there’s always a flood of anxious thoughts and guilt, which makes it tough to fall asleep. Eventually, you convince yourself that you’ll finish the task tomorrow, but when the next day rolls around, you find yourself watching, Bailey Sarian telling the most intriguing true crime stories while putting on make up, instead of working.
It’s a never-ending cycle, isn’t it?
This was me for the past two years.
But I changed all that, and I’m still working on it. To tackle procrastination, I had to take the time to understand why I was procrastinating and why I was avoiding my to-do list; I began to recognize that pushing projects to the side only led to unwanted stress and restlessness.
I would do the things that gave me instant pleasure instead of working towards my goals and dreams. If it weren’t for procrastination, I would have started this blog a long time ago, but perfectionism deterred me from creating. I felt so detached from my goals at some point. I kept postponing and postponing until I realized that I needed to make a change! The phrase, time flies never freaked me out so much.
How can we change this never-ending cycle?
To make a change, first and foremost you need to recognize that you’re procrastinating and then you need to ask yourself why?!
Why am I avoiding this task? Why don’t I want to exercise? Clean? Write this article? Finish this project for University? Once you’ve answered these questions, you can begin to imagine how it will feel to finish your task at hand. And that’s precisely what I did. I wanted to know why I couldn’t just sit there and do what I had to do because I knew that it’s far easier to get it over with, but I still did everything to avoid doing it.
Why I procrastinate
Let’s dive right in, shall we?
As I’ve mentioned before, perfectionism stopped me from completing many, many assignments and projects! Instead of daring to write words on paper, I stared at a blank page. I believed that nothing was better than a failed piece of writing – it had to be perfect before I even began. I feared failure, and I was scared of putting myself out there; the thought of putting my heart and soul into a project and it going nowhere haunted me.
Believing you always have tomorrow. I believed that time was not on my side! I was under the impression that some tasks would take only a short time, but I learned more often than not that I needed more time. Because when I realized I didn’t have enough time, I would avoid doing the task altogether.
And that’s not all!
“I work better with deadlines” – yes, most of us do. However, since I’m my own boss, I don’t have the luxury of deadlines, especially if I’m only in the planning phase and setting everything up. I don’t have due dates, so it was difficult for me to work up the courage to get going; to work on my dream. I had to find my own way to overcome procrastination.
I recently watched this hilarious, relatable TED Talk from Tim Urban: Inside the mind of a master procrastinator. It’s definitely worth checking out!
How to deal with procrastinating
Remind yourself why:
Remind yourself why you’re doing this task, how important it is and visualize what it will feel like to get it done. Keeping my stuff around me, like my planner, notebook, laptop, camera and all that works as a reminder for me; they help me to think about finishing the work I have to do.
However, I am well aware of how perfectionism can halt your plans to finish a task, but remember, it is far better to complete a project than to stare at a haunting blank page. You can always edit it later!
Schedule sections of your projects:
Don’t make it your goal to finish the entire thing in one sitting!
So what can we do to ensure that we finish it?
It can be less daunting to approach a project if you plan on working on a small amount at a time! When we have large tasks ahead of us. I find that when I only plan to work on a small amount at a time that I end up working on more than I expected.
If you are writing an article, you can always listen to music at the start while you mull over ideas, and when you start writing, the music will likely become background noise. When I start fidgeting, I change my place, or I go and do another task and then come back with a fresh perspective.
You can always do physical tasks (like cleaning, exercising, or even writing) while listening to music, a podcast, an audiobook, or watching YouTube. So you’ll get things done and be entertained at the same time. It works for me. Maybe it will work for you as well.
You need to understand the value of time. Eventually, it hit me that you can never take back time – it’s the one thing we can’t replace. That thought made me re-evaluate all my decisions. And I learned how to value the time I had each day to complete my tasks. I started actually filling those planners and setting realistic goals for myself. When I did this, I felt way less overwhelmed!
For example, my plan for my blog is to post once a week, and I will prepare my topics and photoshoots a month in advance, so I don’t overwhelm myself with posting it and managing my social media.
Sounds like a good plan, doesn’t it? Writing it here will hopefully help to keep me accountable!
When I told my friends I’m making this blog and working on it now, they encouraged me and got excited but also asked me if it was the right time? Summer vacation is close, and I’m moving houses. Too much is happening, I know. But I thought to myself if I postpone this, I might never do it. So I went for it anyway, because think about it… Life happens all the time, so don’t wait for time. Create it!
“My advice is to never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.” – Charles Dickens
Believe in yourself and be vocal about it.
Talk to people about your projects, set your deadlines and stick to them.
You are the boss of your time, you are in absolute control (unless if unexpected events pop up, of course).
And the best part about being the boss of your time?
You can schedule your time accordingly!
If you have a free day or a couple of open hours ahead of you, why not take advantage? Do something fun but useful, so your creativity keeps flowing.
My final thoughts?
You need to understand that procrastination is a habit and you can’t break that habit overnight, but it is possible to do so! If I can do it, then trust me, you can do it too!
I still slip from time to time, but once I recognized that I was wasting time and not advancing, I knew I had to take action. It’s vital to give yourself time, to acknowledge that you will slip from time to time (or often at first!), and not to feel discouraged. Keep in mind that you live this life once; there’s no time for you to waste on fear of failing without even trying first.
I would love to hear from you!
Do you tend to procrastinate? Or have you found ways to overcome this habit? Please leave a comment and share your story on procrastination and how you overcame it or how you hope to avoid it in the future!
Until next time…