Screen Shot 2013 07 31 at 5.41.18 PM 580x454 The Ultimate Guide to Beating Procrastination (With Advice from the Pros)How often do you find yourself procrastinating?

“Sometimes,” right? At least for the lucky few.

Others, though, are not as fortunate. They find themselves frequently wasting time on things like Twitter, or television, aware on some level that they’re procrastinating in the first place.

Really, to some degree, we’re all affected.

I mean who hasn’t waited last-minute to do important work, or put off activities (like exercising) because adding it to our lives would be, well, work?

We all have, but luckily I’ve got some great advice to help you out.

Why should you listen to this advice?

Not only is my advice listed here, but the advice of several awesome sources as well (like Leo Babauta of Zen Habits). These guys know a thing or two when it comes to overcoming procrastination,  so you know without a doubt that you’re getting awesome and practical advice when it comes to squashing it.

So are you ready to get down to business? Good!

(In an effort to be more comprehensive, you may see similar sounding (or even the same) advice for handling different issues. Don’t worry, there’s no mistake; some advice is just that awesome).

1) Fear of failure

Afraid of messing things up sometimes?

…Don’t worry, we all are.

Thing is, messing up is a necessary part of our lives. After all, it’s these opportunities that provide us with the biggest learning experiences, and allow us to grow and mature much more so than personal victories.

What’s that saying?

There is no failure, only feedback.

-Robert Allen

That’s the answer in a nutshell.

Change your perspective on the discomfort of failure, then you’ll be able to overcome it.

Other ways to beat this:

2) Lack of motivation

Here’s the thing with motivation: it’s overrated.

Don’t get me wrong, it can be a great tool…

…but it’s an unreliable tool.

It’s unreliable because motivation is based on emotions, and emotions are what?

Fleeting.

Relying on motivation is like saying every time you want to get down to work, you expect to be happy; it’s just not going to happen.

So what do you do?

First, stop looking for motivation. Generally speaking, motivation is an effect, not a cause. It’s something that occurs when you’ve built some momentum, and momentum is built through small victories.

So instead of looking for inspiration, focus on doing one small thing to achieve your goals. And tomorrow? Do it again.

That’s it.

It might sound too simple, but it’s easy to do and easy to stick with – a winning combination.

Other ways to beat this:

3) Feeling overwhelmed

As you might know, overwhelm is one of the reasons this site discourages big picture thinking. It can lead to all manner of procrastination, so it’s best plan as little as necessary to move forward.

This can easily be done with the “what next” method.

Don’t make elaborate, step by step plans. Instead, have a general goal and write out the first two steps. When you get to step 2, ask yourself “what’s step 3?” That next step is where your going, the “direction.”

With the next step providing “direction” and the current step providing “action,” you reduce your feelings of being overwhelmed by having only 2 things to worry about.

Other ways to beat this:

4) Not knowing what to do

“Where do I even start?” – a quote directly related to feelings of overwhelm.

This is a product of the big picture, thus, it can be solved in a similar manner. In other words, emphasize the SMALL picture by focusing on doing one small step right away.

Try this: Write down several TINY actions you can do RIGHT NOW. Close your eyes, put your finger on the paper, move it around and stop randomly.

Done? Now DO the action your finger landed on (or closest to).

That’s it.

Don’t make it any more complicated than that: this is about STARTING, not optimizing.

Other ways to beat this:

5) Anxiety about working hard

This happens to all of us.

Just the THOUGHT of working hard can make us feel lazy.

(If you’re anything like me, knowing there’s work the FOLLOWING day makes you annoyed).

The cause is from knowing HOW MUCH work there is, and/or HOW LONG it must be done for (see the problem with the big picture yet?). To beat this, you have to break things down into bite sized chunks and/or change your perspective on things.

Think of it like this:

You’re not writing a 10 page essay, you’re just writing for 25 minutes today. You’re not at work for 8 hours, you’re working till you can take your break/lunch.

See what I’m getting at?

You’ve got to not see things beyond the small, that’s what causes anxiety in the first place. Once you can do that, you’ll be able get past this problem.

Other ways to beat this:

6) Unpleasant work

So you’re about to start working and it hits you: this sucks.

“I wish I could do ANYTHING but this” you might think to yourself.

But as you already know, it’s got to be done.

But how?

Simple, make the assignment as quick and painless as possible.

You can do this by using the pomodoro technique. Use a time interval that keeps the work short enough to not feel like a drag, but long enough to accomplish some actual work.

I don’t know why, but seeing the timer run out creates this compulsion to beat it. Give it a shot!

Other ways to beat this:

7) Something else you’d rather do

Here’s the thing: there’s always something you’d rather do…

Always.

What you need to do is somehow get away from the thing you’d RATHER do.

Go somewhere where you HAVE to work. A cafe, a library, a study lounge… All these places can help you get away from external distractions.

A timer will also help you stay focused as well. Whenever you have that urge to do something else, looking at timer tick down helps keep your focus at hand.

Other ways to beat this:

8) The generic “I don’t feel like it”

You’ll NEVER feel ready to start working on something.

…Never.

It’s best to just move past this feeling by “switching off your brain;” think of it as going into “action” mode, and abandoning “thinking/feeling” mode.

You can do this by making the work as “easy” as possible. Just say something like “I’ll work for 2 (or even 1) minutes, then I can stop. If I feel like continuing, I’ll do it.”

That 1 or 2 minutes is action mode, and that tiny time limit is hardly demanding. This makes the mental leap to work mode easier to do.

Just like that you’ll probably end up working for at least 10 minutes or more, even if you never actually felt like working to begin with.

Just remember that starting to work is harder than continuing to work, if you can get just started then the rest will take care of itself.

Other ways to beat this:

9) Perfectionism – Requiring too much of anything (planning, thinking, analyzing, etc.)

This is something that’s always affected my productivity; I waste so much energy on planning things that I end up not taking any action afterwards.

How’d I beat this? By planning less (duh, right?).

I focus on starting the smallest possible thing I can, immediately building momentum. I keep plans only 2 steps long, providing me with just enough direction to move forward. Once you start moving forward it becomes a matter of simply maintaining that momentum.

The more momentum you have, the more planning you’re “allowed” to do. The big picture won’t scare you away when you already have enough momentum to carry you towards your goal.

Other ways to beat this:

10) Our hearts aren’t truly in it

It’s an unfortunate truth that we can’t always do what we want in life.

When we are forced to do those unwanted (but oftentimes, necessary) activities, we procrastinate. How do we do these activities if our heart isn’t really in it?

It’s already been said, but I’ll say it again: turn off your brain. Don’t think about the work, just set yourself a time limit and get started on it. The more you think about how much you don’t want to do something, the more you procrastinate. If you can switch off your brain though, then you’ll be able to push past it quickly and effectively.

Other ways to beat this:

Closing thoughts

If I had to pick just one thing for you to remember, it’d be this: make the work as small, quick, and easy as possible; so much so that not doing it would be silly.

Getting started is THE BIGGEST problem with procrastination. But if you can get past that, everything else falls into place.

By now you should have a pretty solid idea of how to beat your procrastination, so why not share this post with friends because I’m pretty sure they could benefit from this post as well icon smile The Ultimate Guide to Beating Procrastination (With Advice from the Pros)

But if you think that I’m missing something important, leave a comment and let me know what that is. There’s a good chance I’d add what you have to say, after all I’m not the only one with procrastination here, right?

6 Thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Beating Procrastination (With Advice from the Pro’s)

  1. Madhuri on March 23, 2014 at 1:52 pm said:

    If someone is not happy with what they are doing,
    Then they should start doing something they Love, are happy doing and feel fulfilled everyday. That would be the end to procrastination.

    Waking up everyday to do something they really want to do and power through it.

    Turning off your brain and forcing yourself through that task is what society tells us to do, though it works it restrains a person.

    And I dont mean leaving your work to play video games, but to find your higher calling.

  2. procrastination is the biggest enemy of success. Many people infected by this behavior and most of them only get average result in work.

    when i’m child, my mother said “never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time”. This advice always remind me to do the best in my life and don’t waste my time.

    Thanks for sharing this great posting
    Penghilang Jerawat recently posted…Obat Penurun Kolesterol Tinggi Dari TiensMy Profile

  3. Thanks for this.. best i’ve read so far!… I’ve done a few of them and will try to do again. one more thing that bothers me w/ regards to procrastination is your energy ( i guess it has to do with your lights, chair and table…) or when your mind is burned out.. :) sometimes, music does the trick but any tips with regards to that.. thanks :)

  4. Great post!! Seeing in print some of the rationalizations that we ALL tend to engage in, to one degree or another, made me laugh out loud. I also liked the way you included links to other articles to help readers combat each specific reason listed. Thanks!

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