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How to Beat Procrastination

https://hbr.org/2016/07/how-to-beat-procrastination

hbr.org

How to Beat Procrastination
Executive Summary Procrastination is a part of human nature. While we love crossing off the easy tasks on our to-do lists, the more challenging ones languish there indefinitely. Why? Because it's much easier for our brains to process concrete (now) versus abstract (future) benefits.

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Our brains are programmed to procrastinate

Our brains are programmed to procrastinate
It’s easier for our brains to process concrete and immediate outcomes rather than abstract and future things. So the short-term effort easily dominates the long-term upside in our minds— behavioral scientists call this present bias.

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To make the benefits of action feel bigger and more real:

To make the benefits of action feel bigger and more real:
  • Visualize how great it will be to get it done.
  • Pre-commit, publicly.
  • Confront the downside of inaction.

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Considering the downside of putting a task off will help move forward with it

Considering the downside of putting a task off will help move forward with it
While we might weigh the pros and cons of doing something new, we far less often consider the pros and cons of not doing that thing. This often leads us to ignore some obvious benefits of getting stuff done.

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Procrastination is not an identity

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Clarify

Figure out why you avoid taking action. Find out all the reasons that prevent you from moving forward. 

For example:

  • You find the task challenging.
  • You don’t know how to do the project.
  • The activity is boring.
  • You don’t have a clear block of time to work on the task.

  • You need a quiet workspace.

  • You expect your work to be perfect—and fear it won’t be.

  • You don’t have a deadline.

Address the issues

Once you understand the reasons for procrastination, address those specific issues. 

Keep on dealing with the issues one by one. This will build momentum and move you toward completing your projects.

one more idea

Procrastination has a price. It's related to:

  • Depression
  • Irrational beliefs
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Stress

Willpower Doesn’t Work. Systems Do.

People shy away from routines, systems and frameworks because they want to have “freedom.” But in order to get things done, you need rules.

To get things done, research found effective:

  • Self-imposed deadlines.
  • Accountability systems (commitment with friends, or a coach).
  • Working/studying in intervals.
  • Exercising 30 minutes a day.
  • A healthy diet.
  • Eliminating distractions.
  • And most importantly: Internal motivation.

Tailor your to-do lists

Use the 1-3-5 rule when putting together her daily to-do list.

On any give...

Build good habits in two minutes

The “two-minute rule”  has two parts.

First, if something takes less than two minutes, do it now. Next, start building new habits for two minutes at a time. The rule for this is: When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do. The idea is to make your habits as easy to start as possible. 

Think of these “two-minute habits” as gateway habits that will lead to your overarching goal.

Complete tasks in batches

It takes time to get into a rhythm to work on a task. Instead of constantly starting and stopping that process, it’s better to keep your rhythm going by bundling similar tasks together.

By doing this, you avoid interruptions and prevents himself from procrastinating.