Curing Procrastination - Can Procrastination Be Cured At All?
Curing Procrastination - Getting Things Done When There Is No Hope!
Curing procrastination - what does the term actually mean? Can procrastination be cured? Can you make it end? Is there a hope for hopeless procrastinators? These are some of the questions this article will discuss. But who am I to give you tips on procrastination anyway?
I've been a procrastinator all my life and while at times this was a 'trait' that wouldn't bother me too much, at other times it would really cut deep in the quality of my life. There were things I NEEDED to get done but simply put off until it was too late. (Did you ever have to pay a fine because you haven't filed your taxes in time AND forgot to ask for an extension? Well, I did!).
Of course when dealing with chronic procrastinators the situation is a bit more serious, however for regular, average Joe and Jane procrastinators here are some of the easy and powerful tips that worked for me for curing procrastination, some of the better resources I used that might help you too, and...
I hope you enjoy this journey as much as I did - and don't put it off for too long :-)
The 60 Second Procrastinator
Which Type Of Procrastinator Are You?
A few years back as part of a 'training on the job' I had to attend a TMI seminar ( time management seminar). While it really didn't do much for me (as these corporate type training usually do for us, the little employees), it did give me some ideas on where to start - how to end my procrastination.
It did take me a long time until I finally found what worked for me, but as I've started helping others, I've realized that procrastination is really quite common and it behaves in common ways - hence it can be sorted out without any heavenly interventions.
If you've been trying to put an end to your procrastination for any length of time, you'll be surprised about the following.
Procrastination is not ALL bad.
There are actually several types of procrastination, each heavily employed by several people.
- For some, procrastination is a bliss. Literally. They simply put off things they don't want to deal with and enjoy the free time that this gives them. Heaven on earth!
- For others (like me), there is an additional element to it all, something that makes it the big problem that it is for us. You know what it is, that nagging little voice in the back of your head that you simply can't shake, no matter how much you try.
For these types of people, putting things off brings about all sorts of negative feelings such as guilt, shame, worry, feeling bad, overwhelmed and plain stressed out to no end. If you ask me which of these feelings I have when I procrastinate, I can safely say all (or almost all) of them.
And the funny thing is, we KNOW that if we just DO the things we need to do now, we won't feel guilty, bad, and so on. We know that we will feel good right after. Yet, we put off doing just that. Weird how our minds works, isn't it?
- Then there are also the people who simply can't decide on something, so they put off the decision. That is also a strong type of procrastination. That inability to do something, that 'freeze up' feeling is truly debilitating and incapacitating. You simply get so anxious about it that you keep putting it off and off until the last moment.
- And for some, there is just this feeling that there are other more fun things to do than what they have to do. Nobody likes to deal with unpleasant and negative chores, so putting them out of their minds is their natural way to deal with negative things and surround themselves with positive things...until the shit literally hits the fan (pardon my expression).
- And finally we have the chronic procrastination folks, about which I wrote in another article right here on Squidoo
I'll Stop Procrastinating Tomorrow
Why Curing Procrastination Is Hard
For most people curing procrastination, ending this feeling of being stuck in a rut is very hard. Many need external help to really get going again. For some (albeit a smaller number of people), it is relatively easy. But nobody so far said that ending procrastination was fun and a piece of cake. So what is it about it that makes it so?
There are several reasons really and while not all are equally applying to everyone, they are quite valid for most.
Procrastination is an ingrained habit
It is true. We are procrastinating out of habit. We don't even realize it for the most part that we're doing it, until that little nagging voice comes down sneaking upon us, reminding us that we shouldn't do it.
I mean just think about it. Do you simply wake up in the morning saying to yourself: "Today I'm going to procrastinate"? it's not a conscious decision from your part. It happens as part of a habit that you have developed over time.
Procrastination has a power of seduction that is hard to resist
As we've discussed above, when we procrastinate, we put off things we don't like to do and in most cases we replace it with things we enjoy doing, we take pleasure in tackling instead of those 'other' things. We avoid doing things we don't like, we avoid talking to people we don't like, and we spend our times instead engrossed in something much more pleasant...
Procrastination is what we're mostly familiar with
It's true, we are very familiar with procrastination, and it is a fact that people very seldom venture out of their comfort zone, unless absolutely necessary. How many times have you met a person who was stuck in a less than quality relationship simply because that's what they were familiar with and they were darn scared to get a divorce or simply start life anewed? In a way, this is part of procrastination too.
Procrastination is a way to deal with things
It might play out on an unconscious level but procrastination is really a way to deal with things more than you would think. Remember the times when you were in school and the teacher was giving all sorts of things like "Don't put off for tomorrow what you can do today.", making you feel real bad if you DID put it off...
Or the parents looking angry at you with their bushy eyebrows raised knit together implying that you should DO something instead of simply lazying off in front of the TV or video game or on the couch. "Couch potato" is something that one hears a lot in this respect.
It's been ingrained since childhood that getting off your butt and doing things might not be really pleasant. (Well they might actually be, but who really wants to do things they HAVE to do?)
Because of all these reasons, it is really difficult to 'try something new', and get out of this laziness, comfort zone, and put it off...and put it off...and put it off...
Curing Procrastination - Start Right Now
The first main step in curing your procrastination is being aware that you are doing it. Most people simply have no awareness that they are procrastinating until it's too late. This is very common, and chances are...you're doing it too.
What you need to do in this case is simply start your de-programming journey right now. I bet there are many, many things that you are procrastinating about just now. So you don't have to wait until you find something new to procrastinate about. Start with something that you've been putting off already.
You need to find the motivation to do it. You can choose various motivation techniques, anything that gets you going and makes you feel motivated about doing it. If guilt is what gets you going, then use it. If a reward of some kind awaits you at the other end, then let that be your guide.
For example you could think of things like "There are people out there that are counting on me". Or "I need to do this so my spouse or children don't think I'm a time waster.". Or "so I can finally cross it off my list."
Further Resources On Ending Procrastination
Curing Procrastination By Learning To Prioritize
This is a great way to stop procrastinating. Fact is that we all live rather complex and complicated lives. It seems that the more our society finds ways to make life easier by adding to our lives all sorts of gadgets to make i easier on us, the more our lives DOES get more complex.
Just have a small chat with your parents - or better yet your grandparents if they are still alive, and compare their daily duties when they were at your age with yours. I bet your grandparents had maybe half - or less than half of things you need to do today.
So it is important that you learn to prioritize if you want to cure your procrastination once and for all. You have to recognize that you can't do everything in one go. That's just impossible. And also you have to realize that there will be things that you will simply never do. That's part of life too.
There are some things that are more important than others and need a higher priority than others. Cleaning our your wardrobe is certainly less important than doing your taxes, yet how many people prefer doing just that instead of doing the important paperwork.
One way I go about this aspect is by writing a list of everything I need to do that I am aware of right now.
Then as i go through the list, I ask myself how important is each task compared to the others. Is there anything that needs a specific deadline to be met? (like doing those taxes)? Is there anything that causes any problems (to you or others) if you don't do them as soon as possible? Is there anything that helps making your life much easier if you do it, and sooner rather than later?
When I use these three questions and answer with an X next to them, I get a pretty good image of what I will be doing sooner and what can be left for later - and what can be left for maybe never to be done (like reorganizing your bookshelf in alphabetical order rather than by color or size).
Procrastinator's Creed Humor College Poster Funny Print
Procrastination Takes Too Long Crystal Heavy Paperweight Punch Studio
Stop Procrastination! Subliminal CD with
(NLP) Neurolinguistic Programming imbedded in soothing music and calming sounds of ocean waves
Time Management Hypnosis-cd
I Can Not Wait To Procrastinate Juniors T-shirt, Funny Trendy Hot Juniors Shirt
Procrastination Essence, 1 oz.
Knock Knock Procrastination Spitball Dartpad
Don't Listen To The Voice That Promises To Do It Later
One of my favorite procrastination rouses is to say 'I'll do this as soon as I finished X (X being watching a movie, or playing a computer game, or anything that is pleasant but not really useful in getting things done).
The problem with this approach is in Murphy's Law which basically says "If anything can go wrong, it WILL."
Something will always come between your wanting to do something later and actually doing it. Maybe a friend stops by and you can hardly throw them out saying that you have to finish your homework or do the dishes, or clean the house. You can't be impolite with your friend.
Or maybe you get a phone call and you have to dash out of the house. And suddenly everything becomes more important THAN doing the very task you keep putting off at any cost. (And sometimes those costs can get pretty high).
Also some people justify their procrastination because the little voice in their minds will tell them "I'm not in the right mood for it.", or "I don't feel like doing it just now." or "It's just not the right time for best results.". Have you ever had your voice telling you this or something similar? I know i have.
So when you find in your mind that little honey voice telling you that it's ok to leave it for later, recognize for what it is. A ruse to bit do what you should. A sign that you are procrastinating.
Do you have that seductive inner voice that you love (yet know it is bad for you)?
Avoid Unnecessary Distractions
This is a great way to help yourself cure procrastination. There are so many distractions every day that are practically thrown at us that it's very easy to get distracted by the seduction of most of them. The thing about distractions is that they are usually those 'fun' things in life, like watching TV when you should be doing something else.
So here are some tips that you can follow in curing procrastination for good:
- Switch off your TV when you start your task.
- Don't answer the phone (home phone or your cell phone). Put your cell phone on vibration mode or quiet and leave the message to go to voicemail, so you don't lose anything important.
- If you have people around the house, tell them explicitly to not disturb you for x amount of time (half an hour, one hour, etc). You are basically off-limits during this time.
- If you find your mind shifting to other more pleasant things, focus it back on your task at hand. I find it easier if I simply tell myself that I'll come back to it as soon as I've finished what I have to do first.
- Don't try multitask. Don't try to do several things at the same time. Focus on one thing only. This will make you do the current task really well.
Are You Really Serious About Defeating Procrastination?
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What exactly is chronic procrastion? We usually procrastinate when we do smaller, unimportant things when we should be doing our main task, the one that need...