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How To Stop Procrastinating and Start Doing - Right Now

Updated on April 3, 2013

Arrrggghhhh I Can't Get Anything Done!

Procrastination. A pesky problem that afflicts everyone at some point or another. Slyly working bit by bit, leaving you thinking, where did the time go?

It went to facebook, that's where it went, and now you're left with 2 hours to a deadline for a project you haven't even touched!

Don't feel down, happens to the best of us. Everyone will find themselves procrastinating at some point in their day. But what does procrastinating mean? And more importantly, how can you overcome procrastination?

What Does Procrastinating Mean?

Procrastinating means putting off, delaying or deffering an action till a later time. That's all it is. Hard to think that little definition is capable of stealing tons of your time.

Procrasting simply has to do with instant gratification, or more directly, the pleasure principle. The pleasure principle outlines peoples willingness to seek pleasure and avoid suffering, something about satisfying biological needs, so there you go. Clear as mud.

In simpler terms, if there is a quick, small job on your to-do list, you'll take that over the massive looming deadline on the list, to feel better, sooner. And so on and so on until you're left with the task you've been trying to avoid. Which by this time, seems so big it just can't be overcome.

Why Do I Procrastinate?

Sometimes, the longer we leave a task, the bigger it gets, until we have a mental picture of this looming Mount Everest that's standing in our way of success.

When actually, it's something as simple as brainstorming an article about procrastination to publish on the internet. But oh how that facebook notification truly needed my attention...because the comment my aunty put on my photos instantly needed a reply... it would be rude to leave her wondering where the photo was taken and who is that kid in the background, why that's cousin so and so, and yes he has grown since you last saw him...

And before you know it, you're deferring the suffering and indulging in the face talk.

Ok But Why Does It REALLY Happen?

Procrastination is motivated by a few things.

  • Perfectionism

While perfectionism has its place in the world, excessive perfectionism is counterproductive. Living with the idea that everything has to be perfect can become debilitating, leading to anxiety, depression and other bad, not fun things.

Leading to putting off or constantly re-doing a task because it just isn't perfect enough.

  • Fear

The outcome of finishing a task is sometimes scarier then starting it. What if it goes horribly wrong and no one likes your work? On the other hand, what if it's super awesome and everyone wants a piece of you because now you're the most famous rockstar in the world?

This is irrational fear, and it's creating anxiety, before anything is even done. Going from molehill to mountain in 2 seconds flat.

  • Not Being Organized

It stands to reason that sometimes, things creep up on you because you let them.

Get organized with lists and charts and notes and reminders then stick them to your forehead so you don't forget!

Ok, maybe not to that extreme, but writing a to-do list fights against the forgetfulness and distraction.

  • No motivation

Sometimes, our to-do list just plain sucks. It's a bunch of stuff that's boring and you just don't feel like doing it.

Here's a big tip you don't want to miss...are you ready? Just pretend it is.

Get excited about re-filing all your already filed files!

Get excited about clearing out your 'my documents' folder!

If that isn't working, use the 3 minute rule. Try something for 3 minutes. Just 3 minutes. It usually happens that if you can do something for 3 minutes, you may as well do it for 30.

How To Stop Procrastinating?

Ways to end the time wasting

  • Prioritize

It's easy to get sucked into checking E-mails, social networking, making phone calls to friends, doing everything but that job you're putting off.

If you're having trouble prioritizing, apply the Pareto principle. A mathematic forumula that a guy named Pareto came up with a long time ago (1906)

It works like this. Put 80% of your effort into 20% of your work.

The most important 20% of your work. Increases productiveness by lots of percents. It's mathematical, it works.

  • Break down the high priority jobs

Break down the Mount Everest, so to speak.

If you can't take all the steps, then just take one. Presumably, the first one.

  • Jump in the deep end

Once your mountain is in lots of little pieces, just jump in the deep end and start. No magic here, it's as simple as it sounds.

  • Make it rewarding

Everybody does it, in a way, it's how we prioritize our tasks. The more rewarding it is, the sooner it gets done. Reward yourself with a treat or some downtime after completing a step on your mountain.

Is There A Procrastination Cure?

Depends on the cause. These techniques are usually effective for general procrastination. If the cause is something deeper, such as a fear or lack of motivation, then they have to be dealt with separately.

Next time you find yourself putting something off, just pretend your not and see how it goes. When all else fails, consult the the antiprocrastinator.

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    • courtneyk lm profile image

      courtneyk lm 4 years ago

      @eightieschild: lol!! My mum has one, that's where I got the idea, she bought it for my Dad a while ago :P Never mind, you'll get around to it :)

    • eightieschild profile image

      eightieschild 4 years ago

      LOL, I was once given a 'round TUIT' as a gag gift, a little like the one in your intro image.

      Sadly, I misplaced it in my last house move, and ironically never got around to finding it again. ;)

    • courtneyk lm profile image

      courtneyk lm 4 years ago

      @Magda2012: No worries, thanks for reading :)

    • Magda2012 profile image

      Magda2012 4 years ago

      I have to learn more about this :) thanks for sharing