We've all went through it before. We have a bunch of things to finish, and we know that finishing them makes us more happy yet we procrastinate.
A lot has been mentioned on this topic, and each has his own understanding and ideas about procrastination. I am not here to discuss the medical or psychological reasons of procrastination because too honestly I have no idea what causes it, but I think I can help you bypass this problem.
The first time I heard the term "procrastination" was when a friend of mine (Dawn) was complaining about it. Since then I've been experimenting and reading about this topic, but I think my vision is mostly based on my own experience and trials.
I needed a way to avoid this problem from happening every day. It doesn't sound a major problem at the beginning especially when you still have enough time for the deadlines.
A) Here's what did not work for me to resolve the issue, but I'll list them maybe they will help in your case:
- Starting the task. For me this tip didn't help because I ended up starting the task and procrastinating after. Though you can give it a try.
- Focus for a set amount of time and then do whatever you want and then focus again. I think you guys know this as the Pomodoro Technique where you would work and force yourself to focus for 25 minutes and then take a break for 5 minutes when the timer ticks. I tried this technique for quite some time with varying chunks of time without luck. I personally think my mind works differently. Sometimes I am focused for over two hours non-stop, and sometimes I can't even think. Forcing my mind to function in a computer-style system didn't work for me. Though you can give it a try.
B) Here's what worked for me:
Realizing my facts and situation. I think humans' minds have incredible capabilities. We know we can do amazing things and we know we can even change the world... But then we don't.
We're emotional creatures, and there's nothing wrong with that, except that sometimes we hurt ourselves by being over emotional.
Let's face it, the majority of people who procrastinate have some kind of anxiety disorder (feel free to object, but don't hide beyind your finger for too long because everyone is seeing you). There's something on your mind that is letting you to procrastinate. It's OK to be sad or feel down for some period of time until you cope, but if you don't plan and act for a change, then don't expect some organizational techniques to solve your problem.
Listen I can't solve your problems, but remember even the most successful people in the world have problems and passed through ups and downs periods. If you don’t help yourself noone is going to help you.
Stand up, make a decision and start working. Money isn't the source of happiness, but it is essential to make us more happy. Trust me, after making a decision you will feel much more energized and will work so hard and finish things faster without even feeling tired.
P.S. It seems that some people got confused about the kind of procrastination I was talking about. In fact, procrastinating every now and then due to feeling boring or just not in the mood is a very normal act. My message above was written for those who are suffering regularly from excessive procrastination that is affecting their work and productivity.
Funny thing: the only reason I came to this post is because I was procrastinating.
I have a serious problem with procrastinating, and I was able to compile two fundamental reasons for that:
- The feeling that working is boring and doing anything else is funnier.
My procrastination problems are more serious now that I'm freelancing for full-time. My girlfriend goes to work and I stay at home, alone with my projects, with plenty of free time. I should be working like a maniac and making lots of money, but I prefer to do any other thing.
Fortunately, I found a couple of tips that really helped me in the productivity journey:
- The Pomodoro Technique really works with me. It's something like "OK, 30 minutes of uninterrupted work is not that bad, and you will have 7 minutes to browse the Internet and save a lot of articles that you know you're not going to read";
- Deadlines. Like the late and great Douglas Adams once said, "I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by". When the deadlines are arriving, I enter beast mode and simply don't stop working.
But the most important thing is to find a job that involves something you like to do. Are you a music-lover webdesigner? Then I bet you will have more fun building a Grateful Dead fansite than building an oii business corporation page. Are you a pet-lover writer? Then I bet a piece of cake that, if you can find a job where you write about dogs, cats and other animals, you'll have much more joy than writing about real estate.
I know that, most of the time, we have to take jobs as they appears; bills don't pay themselves. But once I was able to find jobs related to stuff that I like, I worked a lot, but did not even see the time passing by.
I'm guilty of sloth Wassim... I'm slothing right now. Watching 20/20 and thinking about work.
Actually, I have taken steps to get in gear prior to being distracted with tv.
I showered, dressed as if I'm going to a brick and mortar job, and set up my workstation.
Lit incense, opened the front door for some briskly cold arctic air to wake me up, and now boiling water for Nescafe.
I like to get my social media and forum things out the way before I start work so I don't have any inklings that someone contacted me for something super-secret and important.
When I work, I'm going to be seeing how much I can do in a block of time. I use the timer, but I like to mark down my times on paper to see actual time.
I'll take a break after an hour, stretch, grab something to eat, and back to work I go.
But I have to get up off this Barco lounger first and turn the tv off. Judge Mablean is on now and she's mesmerizing.
I have so many techniques for staying on task because it's such a struggle for me. I have an assistant now so I just email them when I have something on my mind and ask them to follow up with me and make sure that I'm on track. It's starting to clear up my schedule and most importantly my mind. I don't worry or think about the tasks or ideas because I know that someone else is doing that for me. I'm getting a lot more done, in a lot less time.
Plus, I can use some of these other techniques again that started to fail on me. At some point everything is overwhelming and you just need to take a break. I spend a ton of time in the forums when I need a break because I love the people here and I get so much out of it. I'm starting to regain my focus and stuff that would take weeks of struggle are now taking a few minutes to take care of completely. Basically, procrastination is a sign that you are overwhelmed and under fulfilled.
A clear mind is like a blank canvas.
On point, Wassim.
I fall into the procrastination trap in winter. It's cold and snowing. It's gray and dismal. Like yesterday - it was 1 degree. I did nothing except crank up my electric blanket and read a manuscript for review.
Right now it's 10 and sunny. Woo hoo. Heatwave! I'm going to bundle up and go out for my daily walk (that I missed yesterday). I've been on target all morning with creating wonderful things for the new year. I need a short break, but will keep going the rest of the day.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts today.
Doing nothing is a very productive way of regenerating brain cells and reactivating the body.
If one works too late, or misses just one night's sleep, one's (sorry, my) emotional processes go into meltdown and it's called panic - panic leads to procrastination, eating/drinking too much, watching scary movies at 4 in the morning, neglecting the dog, the housework, your annoyed partner, playing video games - none of these are doing nothing - all these are to block panic.
So what is nothing? No answers here.