One of the biggest barriers to people achieving their goals or walking in their purpose is procrastination. For many, it seems to be the lurking monster that puts our dreams on halt or for some, it constantly gets us stressed and worked up considering we always leave things till the last minute.
Procrastination is a choice. It is a choice to listen to your feelings. It’s a choice to delay things that could have been done earlier. But, there is a way out. Here are a few tips to help you beat procrastination.
1. What is your ‘WHY’?
The Oxford Dictionary definition states that procrastination “is the action of delaying or postponing something.” So, you still get the thing done, just that it’s extremely delayed. Sometimes you don’t, but most times especially when it’s urgent and with strict deadlines for example college assignments, work projects, you have to get it done. However delayed action often leaves you stressed, anxious, under pressure and sometimes with poor results.
So with that being said, you have to find out WHY you want to stop procrastinating. Your WHY is what will keep you in check and is what will give you the motivation to take action in spite of. Your WHY might be, you want to start early or get things done in time so you are not stressed or anxious before deadlines which in turn will ensure a good mental health. For others, their WHY might be to get better results; they might want to stop procrastinating so they have time to prepare adequately which in turn will lead to better results. So, find your WHY and let that drive you anytime that feeling of procrastination lurks up.
2. Break your tasks down into smaller daily actions
We all know getting a huge project at work or a 10,000 word assignment at college is daunting. But since we know it’s daunting, doesn’t it make sense to break it down, start earlier so in turn, we get better results and are less stressed? When we break things down, we find out most times, they aren’t as daunting or as overwhelming as they appear.
A lot of people procrastinate on their goals because they feel overwhelmed with how big they are or how impossible it seems. For some, they lack clarity on where or how to start and so they keep delaying action. But, the key to dealing with this overwhelm and in turn dealing with procrastination is to BREAK THINGS DOWN. BREAK YOUR TASKS DOWN INTO SMALLER CHUNKS. For example, when given an assignment on a particular topic, from the very date you are given it, START. You might want to start by breaking down the question into your own words and getting an understanding of what is required of you. You might want to google a Wikipedia summary of the topic or watch videos on YouTube about it and jot short notes on your phone while doing this. This way, you are laying the foundation and breaking down the overwhelm. This can be done for 20 mins in the evening of the day you are given the assignment. The following day, you might want to start your research whether it’s reading articles online, asking people questions, conducting surveys etc.
The 3rd day, you might want to put that knowledge or your understanding of the topic or the task into short paragraphs; the 4th day, you might want to build on your knowledge, build on what you already have done on paper. This might be considering different critics/ standpoints on the topic and critically evaluating the topic. The 5th day, you might want to put all the extra knowledge and critical evaluation down on paper. The 6th day, you might want to work on editing and on the 7th day, add in your references. All these daily tasks can take between 20mins – 1hr each day. And BOOM in a week, you can have the first draft of your assignment done. So, we see that by breaking things down into smaller chunks, it is less overwhelming and thus easier for one to take action.
3. Procrastination stems from a lack of discipline
If every successful person were to listen to their feelings, they wouldn’t be where they are today. Feelings are messed up. Feelings don’t pay the bills. I don’t always feel like working. But if it pays my bills, I have to do it. Many things in life are like this, we may not feel like taking action in the moment; we may want to spend extra hours watching Netflix for instance, as opposed to working on our side hustle, but it is important to realise that no one gets anywhere in life without discipline. It is the foundation to an accomplished life.
If you want to achieve great things and accomplish your dreams, you have to be disciplined. You have to be willing to sacrifice. Sacrifice the temporary pleasure. Sacrifice a night out to work on your side-hustle. Sacrifice weekend brunches so you can save up to start your small business. No good thing in life comes without sacrifice. You can’t eat your cake and have it.
So if you want to stop procrastinating, you have to learn to be disciplined. Learn to check yourself and take action in spite of how you feel in the moment. And like I highlighted earlier, you don’t have to take massive action each day. Break your tasks or goals down into reasonable steps you can take each day. The most important thing is that you are getting something done daily that gets you one step closer to your goal.
If you don’t deal with your procrastination, you will come to the end of life wishing you had taken action, wishing you had walked in your purpose. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that life is short and it is meant to be lived with purpose. We don’t know how much time is allotted to us, the only certainty we have is this very present moment, so why don’t you DO? Why don’t you take action?