Productivity and procrastination are not friends, which is why it’s so important to overcome procrastination. The great thing about time is that there always seems to be more of it. If we don’t get something done now, we can do it tomorrow or the next day. That type of thinking can become habitual, though, and soon we are always putting stuff off like a kid who has a report due and doesn’t finish it until the last minute.
Procrastination is simply the act of delaying or postponing something. But, there are many different reasons for it. Figuring out your reasons is the best way to stop procrastinating and start getting things done.
Negative Effects Of Procrastination
When you need to get things done, but put them off, you are setting yourself up for a huge amount of stress. This increases when you suddenly need to get done whatever it is you have been putting off. The stress of trying to hurry up and get it done can have a variety of negative effects on your health.
Even if you don’t need to get something done, procrastination can sting and cause stress. For instance, if you put off creating a new blog for months or years, then the regret of not putting in the work can get to you. Wondering whether or not your blog would have been a success is stressful. Thinking about how much further along you could be in life is hard on the mind and body.
I know this firsthand. When I lost a client that I was a ghostwriter for, I decided that I would work on my websites with the amount of energy I put into his websites. Day after day I procrastinated on doing that and, instead, did things that didn’t really matter, such as shop, watch TV, and watch YouTube videos. A full year went by, and each day added a new level of regret and pain that kept me in a state of procrastination. I couldn’t do anything because I was too busy beating myself up. Eventually, I got clear on what I wanted in my life, and I started doing what I needed to do to attain that life.
Bottom line is that procrastination can:
- Cause high amounts of stress.
- Keep you in a state where you are so busy beating yourself up that you can’t do anything else.
- Affect your self-esteem and hold you back from doing things you want to do.
- Cause a lot of guilt.
- Inspire irrational thinking that doesn’t lead to action but, instead, more procrastination!
In terms of productivity, procrastination is obviously a hinder to your success.
And being honest, the time you waste putting stuff off is not usually put on something productive. For instance, putting off a work assignment doesn’t usually get replaced with something productive. It gets replaced with sitting around, watching TV, or doing other things that don’t impact your quality of life in any way.
It’s really interesting to listen to people talk about this. Some people think there are many underlying reasons for procrastinating, while others think it boils down to pain.
For instance, if you ‘just don’t feel like working hard’ then some people would say you are just lazy and some people would say working hard feels more painful than doing nothing, so you choose nothing.
The painful feeling often comes from thinking about doing something uncomfortable – out of your comfort zone. And most people will do whatever they can to avoid it.
Reasons for pain include:
- Fear – This is why you might keep putting off your dentist or doctor’s appointment.
- Humiliation – The last time you put effort into something, you completely screwed up. So, instead of being humiliated again, you avoid doing what you need to do.
- Vulnerability – If you put yourself out there, you could get hurt, so you avoid putting yourself out there at all.
- Sadness – When you are in a state of mind where nothing really matters, then it’s more painful to do something now than it is to sit around and feel bad. Because, who cares, right?
- Frustration – If things are not working out for you, despite your best efforts, it can be frustrating to do something that you need to do.
- Boredom – We know that we need to do is boring, and we don’t want to be bored, we want to feel good, so we procrastinate.
Bottom line: The feeling and thought of pain causes us to procrastinate on even the most important things.
5+ Ways To Stop Procrastinating
There doesn’t seem to be one right way to overcome procrastination. Everyone has different ways of dealing with it and overcoming it – depending on why they procrastinate in the first place. But you DO need to try something or else things won’t get better. The following are a few ideas you can try today.
1. Give Your Task A Positive Spin
I like labeling the number one reason for procrastinating as pain because once you start to recognize that you are simply avoiding pain, you can see how important it is to turn what you need to do into something pleasurable.
And the best way I’ve found to make things pleasurable – at least enough to want to do them – is to give them meaning to one or more aspects of my life.
For instance, if you don’t want to do your work, even though it needs to be done, then you’re trying to avoid the pain of the work that needs to be done. Try making your work more enjoyable by giving it meaning, such as:
- This will help me get closer to my financial goals for the week/month/year.
- Accomplishing this will help me get it out of the way and never have to deal with it again.
- Doing this will help someone feel more happiness, success, comfort, etc.
- I will feel great after I’m done this because it will feel like I accomplished something.
- Doing this will help me prove to other people that I’m capable of doing it.
For me, my husband is often my positive spin. If I don’t feel like doing something, I take a second to decide if it will benefit my husband in some way. If yes, I concentrate on that, and that usually gets me up and going with some enthusiasm.
2. Just Get Started
And if you can’t give your task a positive spin, then try just getting started. Often the act of getting started helps you realize that things are not as painful as you imaged they would be. And once you get in the flow, it becomes easy to get that task done and out of the way. THEN you will feel really good about yourself and that may help you ‘just get started’ in the future.
Depressed and procrastinating? Not getting things done could make you feel even worse, so it’s in your best interest to just get up and do things while you work on battling your depression. According to this article on Psychology Today, the relationship between depression and procrastination decreases with high self-regulation skills. Following is a quote from that article’s author, Timothy Pychyl Ph.D., who got things done while depressed.
I edited text. I attended meetings. I made the kids’ breakfast, walked them to the bus. I did the chores around the farm. No joy in most or any of it, but I did each thing as intended. Showing up is half the battle with self-regulation.
3. Outsource It
If you really can’t get going on something, you can try outsourcing it. If the pain of paying money for someone else to do it doesn’t trump the pain of doing it yourself, then it may be a good deal for you.
4. Make It A Part Of Your Routine
If you find yourself procrastinating on something every day, then you need to make that thing a part of your permanent routine, no matter what. The mindset that comes from writing it in as a part of your routine can often help you get it done, even when you don’t feel like it. It’s becomes something you must do – and you know it, so you do it.
Of course, this will only help you to stop procrastinating if you have a routine. If you live your days on your own terms, with no set rules, then this is not going to work for you. But, if you have a structured daily routine that you stick to, then scheduling in that task as a must-do will help you get it done.
5. Watch This Video For 5 Unique Ideas
Robin Sharma is big in the personal development world, and this video is him talking about how he has overcome procrastination.
It’s 16 minutes long, but if you are going to leave this article and go look for other articles or videos on how to overcome procrastination, then you might as well watch this video. It may be the last one you need to watch as it has some interesting insights and ideas that you can try out!
If you like Robin Sharma, then you may want to take his free masterclass on how to unleash your genius.