- Mental Health
How Do I Stop Procrastinating?-Your Guide to Putting an End to Procrastination
How Do I Stop Procrastinating?
It's a question we have all posed to ourselves, a day or a week after we set a goal in a flurry of motivation and ambition that left us positive and hopeful for the future. What is it that occurs between those first few moments of goal setting and planning and the next few hours that follow, that causes us to lose the momentum and "put it off" until tomorrow, like so many other forgotten goals? We must strive to stop procrastinating and put an end to this roundabout of planning and cursing, planning and cursing!! It's getting boring now! I should know, i've been there.
Stopping Procrastination is Easier than You Think
Did You Know?
- According to research done recently, procrastination has more than quadrupled in the last 30 years. Hmmm, facebook anyone?
- Only 5% of the population admitted to being chronic procrastinators in 1978, compared to approximately 26% of people today (Steele, 2007). Are we becoming more honest or just plain lazy?
- 85 - 95% of students report suffering from procrastination related problems.
- According to Wendy Krisak, Assistant Director of the DSU Counseling Center and Director of the First Year Experience program, “A lot of procrastination has to do with fear. The more you put [work] off, the more [procrastination] becomes like a defense mechanism.”
Well, to begin with, here are a few common causes of procrastination:
Fear of success
A fear of success stems from a lack of confidence. Setting goals is often easy and can initially inspire a person, but those lacking in confidence soon start to create all manner of obstacles in their mind. Those who fear success basically sabotage their lives and strive to stay below the threshold of success so they can avoid being exposed to the masses and the waiting critics. This leads to procrastination. The problem is, if you asked them about it they would deny it! That's because it's actually the subconscious mind that is running the procrastination program in the background, in essence, fooling the conscious mind by subtly coercing it into putting off goals in favor of watching t.v. or some other unproductive action. Weeks later, when the conscious mind realizes what has transpired, the question is once again posed: "How do I stop procrastinating!"
"Those who want to succeed will find a way; those who don't, will find an excuse." - Leo Aguila
Fear of failure
Much like the fear of success. People who fear failure often make a start on goals and tasks they have set for themselves, only for their subconscious mind which is doing it's best to protect the ego, to initiate the excuse syndrome. Obstacles and excuses constantly surface in the conscious mind,(sent by the overprotective subconscious mind) and eventually wear the person down until they "put it off" until tomorrow, which means "goodbye goals".
"People who are afraid to fail can never experience the joys of success."
Unable to leave the comfort zone that we have snugly nestled in for so long
A habit! A person who has rarely had very much confidence in themselves will dream of being something more, but very seldom be able to venture out of their safe, risk free comfort zone. On the occasions when they do manage to motivate themselves to set some goals, the beckoning pull of the comfort zone life proves too much for them and procrastination sets in.
"Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." - Les Brown
Procrastination is A Habit
Another name for people who procrastinate might be "quitter" and this is often given to a person by themselves or someone close to them. "You never finish anything, and you never will," or words to that effect are unfortunately common and go along way to causing people to become serial procrastinators with an attitude of , "That's ok, I never finish anything anyway."
It's a habit, pure and simple. It started when you were young, when you failed or gave up because something was difficult. As teenagers we are deeply affected by failures and they often leave lasting damage if we are not supported or assisted by our parents and peers.
However, the good news is just as habits can be created, they can be wiped from our minds to be replaced by their direct opposite. It's simply a matter of being consistent in our efforts to become achievers.
How Far Along the Procrastination Meter Are You? :)
Why Do People Procrastinate? Some interesting info from an expert
Now, here is some useful information to help you to stop procrastination, as in order to combat and remove this monkey from your back, you must first understand just what it is and what makes it tick.
Words from an Expert
Dr Piers Steel is the world's foremost expert on why people procrastinate and according to him, "Temptations that are close at hand are difficult to resist. Addicts often relapse after returning from treatment facilities because drugs and alcohol become easily available and daily habits reassert themselves. Or we load up on bread in the restaurant before the meal is served. Or we check our email 10 times an hour instead of completing a project."
He also came up with a theory which he called the "Temporal Motivational Theory" (TMT), which takes into account four variables:
1. We are more likely to do things at which we expect to succeed
2. We are more likely to try harder when we value a thing
3. It is usual for the average person to focus more on immediate rewards as opposed to long term rewards.
4. A person's sensitivity towards delay.
More Knowledge on Procrastination Helps to Stop Procrastination!
Looking at that list, I couldn't agree more with the good Doctor as I too suffer from procrastination (don't we all!), and in fact before and during the researching and writing of this article, all of the above factors were affecting its completion.
However, as I understand that procrastination is at its root, a habit just like biting nails or playing with hair, I know that the most effective way to overcome it is to first observe your procrastination behavior. Notice how your thoughts begin straying from the task at hand and seem to magically align themselves with thoughts of checking your email, or seeing if you have any messages on Facebook. That is your "subconscious mind" playing its part, after all, if you lack confidence and are faced with or are in the midst of a difficult task, the job of your subconscious is to offer alternatives that will give you short term satisfaction and a sense of control albeit a false one.
Start Small - Finish Big
Tips on How To Stop Procrastinating
The next time you find yourself asking this question: "How do I stop procrastination?" refer to this list of tips and ways of stopping procrastination and choose 1 or 2 that suit you. Then use them! Do not allow past failures and habits to control you any longer. Remember that you are where you are today not because of any outer influence but because of the choices you have made
"The choices we make, not the chances we take, determine our destiny."
Tip 1. NO more "SHOULDS" or "MUSTS". Using this kind of language when thinking about a task or a goal which you have set yourself only serves to put you under unnecessary pressure. Our minds have been conditioned from birth to react to these words in a certain way, and that is to fill us with a sense of urgency. Urgency can be good, but not in a situation where you have a set of goals that you wish to achieve. These words are more likely to cause procrastination than anything else so replace them with other words. For instance, if you have set a goal to write an article a day, don't think:
"I must write 1 article a day," but do think "I wish to write 1 article a day."
Tip 2. Reward yourself with a little "procrastination pastime!" Set a goal or task and then throw yourself into it. If procrastination is something you struggle with then the chances are that your subconscious is going to start suggesting alternative activities during the task. Listen to your mind, but then rather than say "ok, just 5 minutes." Say "Ok, here's the deal. I'll complete this task and THEN as a reward, I get to do...(whatever it is, your subconscious has suggested)
Tip 3. Don't set unrealistic time limits or goal lists. Give yourself more than enough time to get the goal done even if your logical mind argues against it. Set a single goal for the first day, then 2 for the next and so on but don't overburden yourself by having no limit. If you find that you have completed all the set goals for the day, only then should you think about adding another, perhaps a goal that you had planned for tomorrow.
Tip 4. Fool your subconscious mind. When you find yourself in the midst of procrastinating, it is possible to coerce your subconscious mind into prompting you to "get to work" on a goal that is yet to be achieved. Next time you are procrastinating, like reading a magazine or newspaper, instead of feeling guilty and worthless as most procrastinators do, repeat to yourself "I am not reading a newspaper, I am.....(the goal that you wish to achieve) "
For example, if I were reading posts on Facebook instead of adding useful info to my blog I would say to myself, "I'm not reading Facebook posts. I am writing an article for my blog, I'm writing an article for my blog, I'm writing an article for my blog." I would say this over and over until my body and subconscious mind began to react and steer me towards the writing of an article for my blog. It's a miraculous and at the same time simple technique that really does work.
Finally, free yourself from the guilt that plagues you when your head hits the pillow at night. Do something that you care about and know is going to make a difference in your life. Rome wasn't built in day, so take small steps and just be aware of when you tend to procrastinate and gently put a stop to it. In time, you will gain a foothold and setting goals and achieving them will become a fun endeavor instead of a chore.