Ever needed to do something important with the deadline approaching soon but we haven’t made any move to complete the task at hand, we are probably doing things we shouldn’t be doing at the moment, it’s called procrastination, everyone can probably relate to it. The dictionary describes procrastination as the habit of putting off or delaying something that requires immediate attention. We do this all the time, we end up giving ourselves excuses, it’s not the right time, I’m not in the mood, tomorrow I’ll have the strength to do it, let me just take a short rest. Over time, the tomorrow never comes and we end up not doing the task at hand, we feel bad but the next time an important task seeking immediate attention comes up, we repeat the same cycle over again. You may not really notice how dangerous procrastination is, if it comes to just doing simple household chores, you procrastinate till you totally abandon it, but if it is something as important as a company project, an important assignment then you will probably see how dangerous procrastination can be. Here are some of the dangers of procrastination:
- Loss of opportunities: It goes without saying that when you procrastinate you lose valuable opportunities because you just did not get the work done on time. I once lost the chance to compete in an essay competition simply because I procrastinated and I couldn’t meet the deadline.
- Poor decisions: In the heat of time, trying to meet up with the deadline after much time has been wasted and has been taken for granted, we tend to make terrible decisions that may hamper our chances at success.
- Loss of reliability: If you always procrastinate, chances are people just will not rely on you, as an entrepreneur, you will not be assigned to important projects, you probably seem more like a liability than an asset and this can ruin your career.
- Another important consequence is that you do not get to meet your goals, after planning your goals, visualizing the future you hope to achieve, if you procrastinate, you probably would never meet your goals.
These are just a few dangers procrastination can cause in a person’s life. After identifying the problem and the dangers, the next step is to find a solution. Every problem has a solution or at least a way to manage it. Let us take a look at the ways to overcome procrastination.
Break down your work: I have discovered that one of the factors that cause procrastination is fear, everyone probably wants to do nothing all day, take a relaxing walk on the beach, but the reality of life sets in and we have to work and we are scared that the workload is just too much, yeah! I get that feeling too but the fact is we still have to do it or there probably will be dire consequences, so what you do is, break down the workload you have to do into smaller fractions. For example, if you have to sew a dress, you can break them down into steps.
- Step 1: Purchase the material
- Step 2: Get the measurement and cut it according to the correct size
- Step 3: Sew the pieces together
- Step 4: Iron it and voila, you have your dress.
You can break down any type of work no matter how complex or simple it may seem. It has always worked for me when I break down work into steps, little by little you do the work and you will be surprised when you have completed the task in no time. Breaking down work always takes away the fear we feel when we have work to do. If you want to do the laundry you could also break it down into stages, sorting, soaking, washing and rinsing and you are done. I have discovered if we can overcome the fear we face when we need to do work then we can actually overcome procrastination.
Time management: If we want to stop procrastination, then time factor must be put into consideration. Managing time kills procrastination. Everyone would say, I practice time management but how well do we follow them through. Here’s a technique that that takes time management to a whole different level and gives you a guide to follow through with it. It’s the Pomodora technique, it was developed by Francesco Cirillo. After breaking down your work, you probably have a deadline so you need to work with time and the pomodora technique helps you do just that. It involves using a timer to break down work into 25minutes with adequate breaks in between, it is a technique like no other, a splendid technique to use for time management but the catch here is to give all your focus during the 25minutes, distractions are not allowed for full productivity. With this, you can see that to stop procrastination you have to break down your work and put in the time factor for efficiency. If you do not feel like using the pomodora technique, you could go back to good old planning. I advise. Make a to-do list, prioritize the most important tasks on top. You could time yourself, here’s a short example:
- 5:00 –Wake-up
- 5:10-5:50– Go jogging
- 6:00-6:30–Do Chore
- 6:40-7:00– Have breakfast
This is a brief example of how you can plan your time, the catch is to follow it thoroughly and not let an activity eat into another’s time, always work with time.When planning, it is important to leave space in between time intervals to ensure that you do not overexert yourself.
Get a ginger-buddy: This may sound weird but it is my own personal recipe for stopping and overcoming procrastination. You may ask, what or who is a ginger buddy. Simply put, a person that gives you the drive to do the task at hand, it could be anyone actually, could be a friend, a sibling or even a parent just someone who keeps pressing and reminding you on the work you have to do, the person pressures you so much that you just want to accomplish the task and get it over with. Of course, you have to tell the person to insist you do the work, you have to tell them about the task and the consequences of not doing it and have them insist and insist until you do it. Over time, you may regret trying this method because ginger buddies can be so persistent like it is their own task but in the end, you would actually thank them and see their persistence as a necessary evil to ensure that you stop procrastinating the work and get it done on time.
Treat yourself: This is an important method in overcoming procrastination, it has been tried by yours truly and believe me, it works. Everyone knows that as a child when you do something right, you get treats, it always encouraged me to do good as a child. Apply that principle to overcoming procrastination. How? After you have completed a reasonable portion of your task, you can treat yourself, it’s something we look forward to when working, we can see it as the light at the end of the tunnel, treating yourself could be anything at all, it could be going on a date, eating a special snack, going to the beach, just doing that thing that is special to you. The catch is to deprive yourself of that special thing till you have reached your goal. Probably, no one will monitor you to ensure that you reach your goal before you treat yourself but you have to discipline yourself if you ever want to get the work done and overcome procrastination.
Remove distractions: Distractions are never a good way to go, if you want to overcome procrastination, then you have to focus. Someone described focus as focusing on one thing until it is achieved. Another cause of procrastination is due to distractions. See it this way, if you are bored, the desire to do the task at hand suddenly increases, we can all probably relate. If you want to treat a disease, you first have to stop what is causing it, the same goes for procrastination, distraction is an enzyme that fuels procrastination. In chemistry, we learn about enzymes, they facilitate reactions, so take away the distractions and you are left with nothing better to do than complete the task at hand. It works all the time, if you have an assignment or a project to do, clear your mind and focus on the task at hand, take away all distractions, it could be your phone, your laptop, your Xbox game, ps4 whatever it just takes it away and focuses. There will be time enough for having fun when the deed is done.
Just do it: After all said and done, take the wheels, get a grip on yourself and get it over with. Tell yourself, tomorrow will be too late. Repeat the mantra in your head if you have to, say it so many times that you just have to complete the task, it is a good way of overcoming procrastination.
Discipline: The techniques and methods listed above are of no use if you do not instill discipline in yourself. Chances are, when you are applying these methods, no one is going to be there watching over you making sure you get it done the right way and on time, it all comes down to how well you can discipline yourself to ensure that you follow the methods thoroughly to achieve your aim and get the work done. If you cannot discipline yourself, you would never be able to overcome procrastination. Always remember, discipline is key.
There you have it, techniques for overcoming procrastination. The importance of discipline in overcoming procrastination cannot be overemphasized as you must exercise discipline in all the techniques listed above. It is important to know that there is no immediate method of overcoming procrastination, but with these techniques, if followed thoroughly and consistently, you are surely on the right path to overcome procrastination and just as the bad habit of procrastination is formed, you can also develop the habit of getting things done and on time…