How to Beat Procrastination Effectively

Updated on December 26, 2017
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Ephantus, fondly known as Ephy, is a personal development coach and blogger.

Indecision

Procrastination
Procrastination | Source

Procrastination is the habit of putting off tasks or decisions until the last possible moment. Procrastinators wait to work, and when an unexpected task shows up, the procrastinator has no spare time and often fails to beat the deadline. The only way a procrastinator can meet their deadlines is by being able to see the future as it is. The good news is that procrastinators do not need a crystal ball. What they need is to focus and stay disciplined enough to achieve their goals. Normally, procrastination happens because you are impulsive, disorganized, and not very dutiful. Here is how to deal with procrastination effectively:

Focus

To overcome procrastination, you need to focus on the means of goal pursuit. According to a study published in the European Psychologist, your focus depends on a number of factors, including your fear of failure and sense of self-efficacy.

Think for a moment to a time when you were under pressure to accomplish something. You had no time to waste and the focus was rather intense. You had to act in the moment. By creating a sense of urgency and focusing on the goals at hand, you kept procrastination at bay. When you do this well ahead of your actual deadlines by setting mini-deadlines, you are likely to get started before the pressure begins to build up.

Most of the time, procrastinators are not necessarily lazy. Instead, they have fear, perfectionism or a negative attitude towards certain tasks. To keep you focused, avoid concentrating on your fears or aversion, instead, you should focus on beating the clock. This helps you to align your goal with a challenge that offers you a reward or feedback immediately. As a result, your sense of direction is much clearer as you focus on the short-term goals compared to trying to achieve one major goal in a single sweep.

Self-Control

To beat procrastination, you need to master certain habits. Just like people learn the habit of putting off things until tomorrow, they can also master the art of self-control. Unlike lazy people, successful people have learned the importance of long-term perspective. These people have cultivated the habit of seeing the bigger picture and the connections between future achievements and current actions.

To deal effectively with procrastination, you need to summon yourself to a meeting. Sit yourself down and ask some hard questions such as what the future will be like if you neglect doing what you need to do now. Ask yourself what the consequences of putting off tasks are, such as those that you need to do to create the future you dream about. As you explore the possibilities of what might happen if you do not fail to follow up on your dreams simply because you neglect what needs to be done today, you are likely to feel uncomfortable putting off tasks until later.

As you accomplish important tasks, you will experience a surge of enthusiasm and energy. Completing tasks that previously seemed almost impossible triggers the release of endorphins in the brain causing a natural high. With time, you get addicted to the natural high and look forward to completing challenging tasks. So, you exert more effort and feel motivated to put more effort.

One Bite at a Time

The art of practicing self-discipline can be compared to eating an elephant. Now, you can never eat such a big meal all at once. The easiest way to accomplish such a daunting task is to eat the elephant one bite at a time.

If you look at your goals as a whole, you are highly likely to get overwhelmed and lose faith in the ability to accomplish anything. When you break your major goals into smaller pieces, your focus shift from the daunting task ahead to what you need to do in the present. Basically, it is easier to stay focused if you are only looking at a couple of steps ahead compared to a towering mountain in the distance.

If you have ever tried to lose weight, you know that it can be quite challenging. However, when you break down the weight loss schedule by focusing on shedding a pound at a time, you are highly likely to succeed. This is the same approach that marathoners live by. Rather than worrying about how they are going to finish the race, they focus on how to pace themselves for the half-mile they are currently running.

Using the same principle, you take the larger goals and break them down into smaller goals that can be attained. You can even break these down further into small tasks that need to be done daily.

Write It Down

To ensure that you do what needs to be done, write down the specific tasks and put a date on them. A goal without a date might remain a fantasy. To cultivate the habit of self-discipline and focus, develop a routine and keep engaging in your repetitive goals until doing them becomes a natural part of you.

When cultivating focus and self-discipline by engaging in repetitive behavior, you need to find a system that works for you. Basically, humans are different and there is no cookie-cutter technique to overcome procrastination. While one system may work for one person, it may not work for another person. To ensure your success, try different systems until you find a technique that works for you.

Discipline

As stated earlier, procrastination is a habit that is cultivated over time just like discipline and focus. This means that as you keep doing the tasks that need doing now, you start practicing discipline. Over time, taking action on things that need to be done today becomes a habit. The stronger the habit, the more the habit becomes an automatic behavior. Before you know it, discipline will become a daily habit and you will be on your way to accomplishing your goals and achieving success.

Ultimately, the only way you can focus and stay disciplined is through building confidence through constant rewards and feedback. This reduces the effects of temporal discounts by taking the mind off the distant outcomes and goals in order to reduce the fear of striking out into the unknown.

© 2017 Ephantus

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