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  • How to Stop Procrastinating

  • Have you ever had the opportunity to do something but put if off for another day, then looked back and thought why didn’t I do that when I had the chance?

    I definitely have!

    There are many ways to avoid success in life, but the most sure-fire way is procrastinating.

    A procrastinator will sabotage themselves; they will miss opportunities big or small, whether it is a small discount sale at the store for Christmas shopping, or a golden opportunity in purchasing a fire sale property that they had an excuse not to attend the open house or sales auction.

    Now whether you are reading this as procrastinator or you know someone close who procrastinates, I commend you both.

    If you are the procrastinator, it takes a lot of courage to admit flaws in yourself and seek the appropriate help and for that I applaud you.

    Congratulations on taking the first step

    If you’re the caring friend/family member who is trying to help another get through this maladaptive lifestyle, you deserve equally as much praise as it takes courage to call others on their excuses and point out what may be holding them back.

    This is not information from a panel of experts that is publishing findings in articles. It is my personal recount of my past on how to stop procrastinating. It depicts all the things I did to shed my old ways of procrastinating and become what I am today.

    You’ve made it this far, now let’s go the rest of the way.

    Now this may sound silly to a lot of you, but contrary to what people believe procrastination is a taught habit not a genetic inheritance.

    Nearly every person would have procrastinated at some stage in their early years and depending on the parenting would have shaped how you dealt with the problem; some examples I have in my past, would have been towards taking the time to clean my bedroom and doing homework when my parents told me to.
    I resisted completing these tasks out of pure laziness or because I just wanted to play games or do something more enjoyable.

    If I had harsh, controlling parents that kept me in check, I may have developed the ability to prioritize important tasks through my schooling and working years. Thus eliminating years of pain up until I realized I was a procrastinator and wanted to fix it.

    There is a flip side to the harsh and controlling parenting.

    The pressures of high school life and the strict ruling of parents can cause a rebellion period, where the child may start hanging with the wrong crowds etc.

    Though childhood is an important factor to where habits were learned please remember it may not be the only factor or place you may have picked up the Art of Procrastination.

    As promised, the things I did to stop procrastinating;

    Eat wholesome food– when I started working Full Time most my pay was spent on quick and easy food such as going to the nearest café and getting a burgers, pies etc.

    Have you had this happen too?

    The food that fills you but not actually nourishes you. The constant state of lethargy only served the procrastination. I always felt full but could always eat more junk.
    The best analogy I can give you is; if you fill your car with dirty low octane fuel it will run poorly, if you fill it with clean high octane fuel, you will increase the cars mileage per tank. The exact same thing happens to the human body.

    So immediately I jumped on a few health food sites learning what I could, but it wasn’t until I found the 90 day challenge from www.foodpatrol.com.au when I learned the key principles to good eating and food portioning. I undertook the challenge with the primary focus of eating well and increasing energy but the secondary benefit was losing those extra kilos I found while gorging on the “quick and easy” foods.

    Exercise – In conjunction with good eating is the bodies constant need for exercise of any sort whether it is; walking, cycling, kayaking, swimming, rock climbing, surfing, team sports, or in my case just the simplicity and of the local Gym.

    Let’s not be fooled, exercise is not a form of procrastination if you regulate it. Exercise in our daily lives is absolutely essential; another constant in a person’s life other than death and taxes is our health and quality of life. Now there are no hard and fast rules as to how much or little exercise a person can do, it is completely discretionary.

    If you train at the gym for 1-2 hours nonstop with minimal breaks and chatter with other members as part of a schedule then it is no way procrastinating. However if you spend 1-2 hours at gym and only workout of for 30 minutes of that and spending the rest of the 2 hours chatting to other members, walking around spotting others then you can probably agree that this is procrastinating.
    In summary exercise will increase your stamina and endurance when it comes to undertaking large tasks, whether mental or physical.

    This in combination with good food primes you with the energy to tackle daily tasks immediately and could prevent the lazy, I can’t be bothered feeling!

    Don’t be a perfectionist! – This will probably be the hardest habit to shed if you suffer it like I do.
    The eternal search for the perfect time, perfect set of tools and supplies will never come in the eyes of a perfectionist. In fact; life is not without its sense of irony. While making up this article I deleted and retyped paragraphs over and over due to perfectionism and over thinking what may be considered the perfect set up for this article.

    I had to make a conscious effort to stop myself from over thinking and just press on. Get the article made and share my story.

    I suppose you could say the tip for this is really just taking on board feedback from friends and family if you are accused of being a perfectionist.

    There really is no trick here other than identifying when you are being a perfectionist and using the power of your mind to put it aside with the procrastination.

    Regulate Relaxation Time – Whether it is reading a novel, watching your favourite TV show, playing video games; avoid saying to yourself “I’ll just finish one more chapter” or “I’ll play one more game” etc.

    Throughout my childhood, Teens and yes even as an Adult; I can admit, that I put off Cleaning my room, homework and study for test until the last day, (cliché I know, but absolutely true) as there was and is always something more enjoyable to do. Something else I’d rather be doing.

    I put a lid on this way of life by allotting leisure time into my schedule. Also at no time in my life did I ever try to cut leisure activities cold turkey like my current best friends frequently do.

    A moderate procrastinator when they start feeling guilty that they aren’t getting tasks done because they are indulging in the pleasure activities way too much, cut that thing out of their life. This only serves to strain the mind further, making it harder to focus on the tasks at hand, as you are too busy thinking about that leisure activity you’ve just cut out of your life.

    Dealing with procrastination is no easy task, so loading yourself with more issues will only work against you.

    It is very important to realize that all your priority tasks are done for the day before you have your fun, sounds cruel but absolutely necessary at stopping procrastination. In saying that; please remember life requires balance of both leisure and responsibilities.

    Focus on Goals – Procrastinating is definitely associated with poor time management as well as lack of motivation and having a schedule is not nearly important as sticking to the schedule.

    Have you ever set yourself a To do List” that is about 20 tasks long and only get 3-5 ticked off?

    Did you get that feeling of being overwhelmed when the business day was ending and you realized that you couldn’t complete all the tasks?

    That is why I don’t make lists of things to do like I used to.

    I usually now have an allotted amount of time to do tasks; for example I’ll set myself an hour a day, three times a week to exercise. This way out of a whole week all I have to do is 3 hours of exercise and I won’t feel guilty and start to sabotage myself if I don’t go on a certain day or at a specified time. I don’t schedule it in from 6pm to 7pm as sometimes it may not be achievable and giving myself more options where needed.

    Another tactic I use is to focus on breaking my day down into chunks and associating individual tasks with goals rather than a “To Do List” as the majority of people will suggest when managing time.
    Example – you sell an item on eBay; you then set a list of things to do tomorrow so that you get your good feedback etc. The list might include;
    *Go to Post Office
    *Buy some bubble wrap and packaging
    *Safely package the item
    *Fill in the respective mailing addresses
    *Go to counter and pay the post officer for registered post
    *Go home and update eBay tracking number for the sold item
    This list only serves to artificially inflate your day, opposed to simply focusing on the goal of sending the eBay item to the buyer.

    No Excuses! – A procrastinator’s best friend is December and that dreaded New Year’s Resolution. Excuses are so much easier to conjure. Have you heard phrases like this? “Oh uh, it’s the festive season, I’ll start to eat clean after the New Year” or; “I’ll stop smoking as my new year’s resolution” or; “I’ll start going to the Gym 7days a week next year”.

    I’m all too familiar with how this feels. I used to do the same thing in regards to dieting when I started putting on weight, I was constantly saying “I can always start tomorrow, I’m tired today”.

    If you come up with a new goal ensure you are willing to start it immediately or it will never happen.

    It all comes down to your mindset; do you want to give reasons or results when conversing with people?

    It will serve to empower and motivate you; when you discuss with other people who are in a completely different dynamic, transforming from excuses like above to pride filled conversations of successful goals.

    Motivation – Many procrastinators will say “I work better under pressure”, however this way of thinking only keeps you accountable at places like your work.

    Simply put; if you don’t perform consistently and productively, you may get demoted or replaced.
    What kind of pressure are you under when it comes to your own goals if you are self-employed or doing tasks at home?

    Well there are two ways I have used in the past; I used reward based motivation and punishment based motivation.
    Let me put it a different way, the analogy will relate to a workplace situation;

    If a boss goes into a team meeting and said “Business is going well and I will give each of you the opportunity to earn an extra $2 per hour if you are willing to do some extra training and change your scope of employment to do a few extra tasks”.

    A lot of people like the sound of the reward but there isn’t much impact towards motivation.

    Now the flip side
    If a boss went to a team meeting and said “I’m sorry business is going bad and we are going through a job cut process. The workers who are willing to do extra training and change their scope of work with no pay rise will be earmarked to stay as the company will save money and we won’t require that extra person anymore”.

    This is a harsh example of a punishment based motivation. Would the loss of employment be a more effective at stopping procrastination?

    What I did to keep myself accountable wasn’t to promise myself rewards but to instead give my best friend a nominated amount of money, sometimes $50 other times $200 even $300 and the only way I got the money back was when I presented the completed project to him in the time allotted.

    You may not be comfortable with punishment based motivation; however I have a question for you if this is the case. Didn’t you want to know how to stop procrastinating?

    Personally I found punishment based motivation more effective.

    Sometimes you can join the two; for example if you celebrate achieving the goal by purchasing something, then if you don’t achieve the goal set out you won’t get what it is you are looking forward to and if you do achieve it then you have nothing to worry about.

    Personally I find that having a punishment/reward motivation isn’t always solid as if you want that TV, game, book etc bad enough what is stopping you from just going out and buying it. This strategy may work for some and it may not work for others

    Remove Distractions – Have you ever sat at your computer, about to start a project and then decided to get a coffee, came back and checked your emails for 10 minutes back to back with another 10 minutes of glancing at your Facebook news feed?

    I have.

    So hide those temptations while you are completing those work goals. Turn of your phone, put on some noise cancellation head phones and play some white noise (or whatever works for you). For instance; I had a dedicated work laptop with no games or unnecessary programs installed that I could get lured to. I only accessed those temptations through breaks that have time limits enforced by an alarm clock.

    At first it was difficult to get off when that bell rang but I pushed myself to stick to my daily schedule.

    Read Personal Development Material – The question you might have here is “What has this got to do with how to stop procrastinating?”

    The answer is quite simple. It’s no surprise to anyone that procrastination is just weakness in the mind. A quote that I heard from real estate billionaire Donald Trump was “The most expensive piece of real estate is the six inches between your right and left ear.”

    So the concept of personal development is not a direct tip on how you stop procrastinating, however it has a secondary effect by boosting your motivation and increasing your action taking potential.

    Word of caution though, there is such thing as reading too many books and attending too many seminars, this can be a form of procrastination in itself. The term “Seminar Junkie” takes into effect.

    When I declared that I was going to stop procrastinating and turn my life around, the two books I read which changed my life and way of thinking were; “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki and “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” by T Harv Eker.

    No matter how much training we’ve had, hints and tips we’ve read we’ll continue to procrastinate.
    Don’t beat yourself up when this happens. Only through recognition can we improve ourselves, remember admitting you have a problem is the first step to a solution.

    The above is purely examples of ways that I personally found that aided me in living a more productive life

    Thanks for reading and I hope it was helpful, please note that I am not recommending you do what I have done.

    If you want to know how to stop procrastinating I ask you look within and ask yourself “What can I do to be more productive with my time?”