Have you ever had tons of work to do and chores to take care of, but each time you tried to get around that, you got that tingly, unpleasant feeling in your stomach and you immediately stopped even though you knew that this is something you must finish?
Of course, you had. I mean, who hasn’t?
It’s one of the most familiar feelings.
And it’s called procrastination. My eternal enemy.
Procrastination is putting off work until the next day, or in my case until who knows when. To help you get a better picture, imagine psyching yourself to start working, spending three hours cleaning your room and preparing your desk for work, and then deciding to have a nap instead. Yes, that is something that has really happened to me. And also something that still happens to me every now and then.
Procrastination is a common thing. And it is the most popular method of self-sabotaging. Why? Well, firstly, because it is too damn easy to do. And secondly because sometimes it is so powerful that you stand no chance against it. However, regardless of how scary it sounds and how hopeless it can sometimes make us, it is good to know that procrastination, just like anything else, can be managed. And eventually, it can be defeated.
The first thing you need to understand about procrastination in order to stop it is has nothing to do with laziness. Etymologically, the word “procrastination” derives from the Latin verb procrastinare – to put off until tomorrow and the Greek word akrasia – to do something against our better judgment.
According to experts, procrastination isn’t a unique character flaw or a curse on our ability to manage our time. It’s simply a way of coping with our emotions and negative moods that are often triggered by certain tasks. And it is our self-awareness that makes us feel guilty, not the lack of it. We know that not doing a certain thing is bad for us and yet, we still do it. It’s absolutely irrational and deep down it bothers us. But at that moment we know that we are not strong enough to face our insecurities and so, we let it take over us.
It’s absolutely paradoxical, I know. But if there is one thing I’ve learned so far is that if you want to change something and get out of that “comfort zone” or “black hole” or whatever you like to call your current status quo, you will find a way. But if you don’t, you will always find excuses. It will be hard at first and at times, you’ll feel like giving up, but if you truly want to make a change, you won’t. You will keep on moving until you reach the finish line.
That’s it. It’s literally that simple.
However, if you don’t feel you are ready to take that step yet, here’s some piece of advice that I guarantee will help you put a stop to procrastination. Maybe not at once, but hey, who’s rushing you?
1. Set simple, achievable goals. If getting down to work gives you anxiety and puts you off as soon as you start, you need to rethink your whole work routine. Start by breaking down your big goals into small actionable steps.
2. There is no such thing as perfection. Try to remind yourself of this before postponing something because you are afraid you won’t make it the way you imagined it.
3. Pay attention to where you stop. What is it about the work that makes you stop? When do you suddenly freeze and lose yourself? Is it when you start typing or when you need to make some calls? Find out what scares you and allow it to overflow your system until you are free.
4. Give yourself a break. Don’t be so hard on yourself every time you hit a rough patch. After all, we all need some rest and time to figure out where we’re going.
5. Forgive yourself for not delivering, own your failures, and work it out. What you choose to focus on becomes your reality. Don’t waste your life stressing and pretending to do something when you know that you’ll still end up doing it last minute. Instead, go out, go have a cocktail, have fun, do whatever you feel like doing at the moment, and then when you’re ready, focus on your work. Figure out how much time you really need to get the job done. Time is precious. Use it wisely.