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Here's why you procrastinate, and 10 tactics that will help you stop

Be kind to yourself

Be mindful of how kind you are to yourself, and watch out for times when you try to deceive yourself. 

The reason you deceive yourself when you procrastinate: at the same time that you know you should be doing something, a different part of you is very much aware that you’re not actually doing it, so you make up a story about why you’re not getting that thing done.

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Here's why you procrastinate, and 10 tactics that will help you stop

Here's why you procrastinate, and 10 tactics that will help you stop

https://alifeofproductivity.com/why-you-procrastinate-10-tactics-to-help-you-stop/

alifeofproductivity.com

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Key Ideas

Why you procrastinate

Procrastination is fundamentally an emotional reaction to what you have to do. The more aversive a task is to you, the more you’ll resist it, and the more likely you are to procrastinate.

Aversive tasks tend to: be boring, frustrating, difficult, lack intrinsic rewards, be ambiguous and unstructured.

Make a task less aversive

When you notice yourself procrastinating, use your procrastination as a trigger to examine a task’s characteristics and think about what you should change.

By breaking down exactly which attributes an aversive task has (boring, frustrating, difficult, meaningless, ambiguous, unstructured), you can take those qualities and turn them around to make the task more appealing to you.

Unproductive responses

... people have when they procrastinate:

  • Distracting yourself, and thinking about other things
  • Forgetting what you have to do, either actively or passively
  • Downplaying the importance of what you have to do
  • Focusing on your other values and qualities that will solidify your sense of self
  • Denying responsibility to distance yourself from what you have to do
  • Seeking out new information that supports your procrastination.

Limit your time

Limiting how much time you spend on a task makes the task more fun, more structured, and less frustrating and difficult because you’ll always be able to see an end in sight.

And instead of throwing more time at the problem, you force yourself to exert more energy over less time to get it done, which will make you a lot more productive.

Be kind to yourself

Be mindful of how kind you are to yourself, and watch out for times when you try to deceive yourself. 

The reason you deceive yourself when you procrastinate: at the same time that you know you should be doing something, a different part of you is very much aware that you’re not actually doing it, so you make up a story about why you’re not getting that thing done.

Just get started

You just need enough motivation to get started. Once we start a task, it is rarely as bad as we think: your attributions of the task change, and what you think about yourself changes, too.

For example, to go for a swim in a cold pool, you just need to be motivated for the 30 seconds it takes you to jump in and start swimming.

The costs of procrastinating

Activating the rational part of your brain to identify the costs of procrastinating is a great strategy to get unstuck.

So make a list of the tasks you’re procrastinating on, and then note how your procrastination has affected you in terms of things such as your happiness, stress, health, finances, relationships, and so on.

Think about your future-self

Research has shown that we have the tendency to treat our future-selves like complete strangers, and that’s why we give them the same kind of load that we’d give a stranger.

"We’re not very good at predicting how we will feel in the future. We are overly optimistic, and our optimism comes crashing down when tomorrow comes. When our mood sours, we end up giving in to feel good. We procrastinate.”

"We’re not very good at predicting how we will feel in the future. We are overly optimistic, and our optimism comes crashing down when tomorrow comes. When our mood sours, we end up giving in to feel good. We procrastinate.”

Disconnect from the Internet

47% of people’s time online is spent procrastinating, so our best tools for productivity (computers, smartphones) are potentially also one of our greatest time wasters.

To get something done, we need to disconnect from potential distractions like social-networking tools.

Form “implementation intentions”

Especially for tasks that are not defined and poorly structured.

This means thinking about when, where, and how you’re going to do them. Move from broad goal intentions to specific implementation intentions.

Seek out more meaningful work

You procrastinate a lot less with meaningful tasks that are intrinsically rewarding. 

In every job, there are going to be tasks you find aversive, but when you constantly find yourself procrastinating because your work is aversive, there may be other jobs that are more aligned to your passions, that you will be much more motivated and productive in.

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How to overcome your procrastination habit

We have two ways of dealing with our procrastination:

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Make getting started ridiculously easy

Often starting a task is the biggest hurdle. Research shows that progress—no matter how small—can be a huge motivator to help us keep going.

Set the timer for just 5 or 10 minutes. While the timer’s running, you don’t have to work, but you can’t do anything else. You have to sit with your work, even if you don’t get started.

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Value

The more enjoyable a task, the less we procrastinate on it. 

Boring tasks are more likely to lead to procrastination than difficult ones, that's why we keep postponing all the busywork (work that keeps us busy but has little value in itself.)

Impulsiveness

Difficulty maintaining focus in the face of immediate and more appealing distractions.

If we work in an environment where we're bombarded with distractions and we are not capable of resisting them, we're more likely to procrastinate.

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Procrastination

Procrastination is not just avoiding or delaying a task.

It also has to include an aspect that’s counterproductive, irrational or unnecessary.

Procrastination triggers
  • People procrastinate because of a lack of value [associated with the task]
  • because they expect that they’re not going to achieve the value they’re trying to achieve; 
  • because the value is too far from you in terms of time
  • or because you’re very impulsive as a person.
If timing is the issue

Many people are inherently more productive at certain times of the day. 

Work around these natural productivity ebbs and flows when you schedule your days. 

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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.

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A lack of boundaries

When work and personal activities are occurring in the same space, there are no cues for you to behave the way you do at work while you are outside your physical office.

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Idealism

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Observe Your Need To Procrastinate
  1. Observe the need to procrastinate, recognizing and being aware of your desire. This is called meta-recognition and is what all the Gurus keep talking about when they speak about awareness.
  2. Label and accept your urge to waste your time, but without any negative judgement.
  3. Validate your urge to procrastinate, increasing your self-esteem.
  4. Approach procrastination as a friend, not as a threat.
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