What is procrastination and how to overcome it is a crucial self-help topic for many people. Simply put, procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something. This is an issue for many people and so this post will discuss what is procrastination and how to overcome it with some simple tips.
Procrastination is one of your biggest obstacles to achieving what you want to achieve. So many of us have things we want to accomplish that we never manage to fulfil. Too often, this is mainly down to a lack of concentrated strategic effort.
So, maybe you blame time. You might claim that you would love to start your own business/improve your home/write a novel/get in shape/actually clean the kitchen… but you just don’t have the time because you are so busy with work and with looking after your family and a host of other excuses.
This is simply untrue.
24 hours (16 of which are spent awake) might not sound like that much, but it should be more than enough to accomplish all you hope to.
After all, didn’t you watch a whole boxset of your favourite TV show only last month?
Didn’t you complete the latest Call of Duty game?
Didn’t you spend over an hour watching TV or browsing Facebook most evenings last week?
If you were to have spent all that time in a way that was useful and productive, then, of course, you would have accomplished your goals. And probably much much more. You would probably speak five languages right now!
Part of the problem comes down to procrastination. But really this is a result of some much bigger issues: those being energy and discipline.
In this post, you’re going to learn how to solve all of those problems and use this to help you start to overcome procrastination
Why You Lack Discipline
Procrastination comes from a lack of discipline. This is what happens when you sit down to get some work done and immediately your mind begins to wonder.
This in term comes down to a couple of factors. For starters, the work you need to do is likely somewhat boring and unrewarding. If the work you had to do involved playing a computer game or eating a delicious pie, you probably wouldn’t procrastinate.
The other problem comes down to stress and anxiety. When we feel anxious and stressed, our mind wants to turn to the source of that stress and focus on that – it doesn’t allow us to engage in the things we need to do. This is why we’ll often find ourselves killing time by browsing the web: it’s a little like burying your head in the sand and hoping the problem will go away.
Of course, the irony is that delaying will only make matters worse!
Ultimately, this is an example of you not being in control of your own mind. This is the ‘monkey mind’ at its worst and it’s a great example of how we can feel out of control when it comes to where we want to direct our energy.
And that brings us to the other problem: energy.
Often, we are simply too tired to do the thing that we need to do. Perhaps you’ve just had a long day in the office and now you need to tidy up or clean the hoes. You’re too tired to do that and so you think you should give yourself five minutes to rest first. Which quickly becomes ten minutes, or twenty. And then it’s bedtime.
Sometimes we lack energy and will-power to such a degree that we can actually procrastinate before it’s time for bed! We actually find ourselves watching rubbish TV or browsing Facebook when all we want to do is sleep – because we can’t face the thought of having to get up and brush our teeth.
And energy is responsible for this in a bigger way too. You see, discipline actually requires energy. Whenever we make any choice, making the harder choice actually requires energy. This is why we also tend to become less moral as it gets later in the day.
Our will power is fatigued at this point and so we’ll often take the easy route – and not be bothered!
Now you know all of this, the next question is how you can go about ending that procrastination and gaining unstoppable will- power.
Why Discipline Is So Important
Willpower and discipline are actually two sides of the same coin and this is an area of your life that you should look to cultivate if you want to become a more impressive, powerful and successful version of you.
Discipline ultimately comes down to control over your own emotions and actions. And that, in turn, means you need to learn to stop being a slave to the way you feel.
We don’t want to work through the night because it doesn’t feel nice. And so we do it slowly and our mind fights us every step of the way.
The disciplined individual however can simply tell themselves that it doesn’t matter whether they like it: it has to be done and that is that. They choose one goal, one objective and they shut out all other distracting thoughts and impulses.
This is powerful stuff because it allows you to gain laser focus over what you are doing and to complete any task. At the same time though, it also creates congruence in everything you say and do. People will notice that you aren’t easily upset by things people say, desperate to please them, or torn about what to do: you are decisive, disciplined and immune to life’s concerns.
This is so important. So often we try to please everyone because we want to be liked and we end up making weak decisions that end up upsetting everyone. So often we let our emotions lead us in our conversations and disputes which causes us to react badly in conversation. And so often we curl up in a ball and don’t do the things that need to be done, which only causes our life to become more difficult.
The disciplined person rises above this and they are in complete control over their actions and reactions.
So how do you become that person?
How To Gain Unstoppable Discipline
How do you gain discipline?
The same way you gain anything else: through practice and training.
And what this also means is that you need to recognize the discipline that exists in every moment. Discipline is the conscious choice to focus on one thing and to shut out distractions. Distraction is procrastination and procrastination is a distraction.
So, when someone is talking to you in a conversation, it is your job to focus acutely on what they’re saying.
When you are meant to be working in the office but you’re interested in what is happening on the other side of the room, it is your job to ignore that urge to look up.
When you are trying to exercise but you feel tired, it’s your job to ignore the feeling and to power on through anyway.
It starts with recognizing that your feelings don’t matter. As long as you’re not hurting yourself, it doesn’t matter if you’re a little hungry, a little bored, a little cold, a little tired. It doesn’t matter if you feel you deserve a treat.
Being an adult is all about resisting that urge and on focussing on the things that you need to focus on in order to accomplish your goals.
This is a kind of ‘incidental’ training that turns all of your interactions and experiences into chances to hone your focus and discipline. But you can also set up further training opportunities throughout your routine.
One example might be to take a cold shower.
Standing in a cold shower takes a huge amount of willpower and discipline and this is something your body and mind will fight you on every step of the way. But if you can force yourself into that cold water anyway, you will be training and harnessing your willpower.
And actually, cold showers are very good for us seeing as they help us to produce more testosterone, they increase blood circulation and they train our immune systems.
Another example is to make your bed. This is something very simple but it’s a great habit to get into: if you can successfully motivate yourself to make your bed every morning, even when you’re stressed, even when you’re in a hurry, then this will be great training to get yourself to do other things that you need to.
The Importance Of Reward
While it’s important to be disciplined and to fight procrastination, it’s also important to enjoy life. And no one is going to be 100% disciplined 100% of the time – no matter what they tell you. Being too repressed and too strict can end up leading to more serious issues down the line.
What I’m telling you to do instead, is to give yourself rewards at set times and only once you have worked for them.
Want to eat a big chocolate bar? Sure you can. But only once you’ve gone a whole day keeping your calorie total to X amount.
Want to kick back and enjoy a good book? That’s fine. But first, you need to complete X amount of work so that you’ve got that under your belt.
Giving yourself rewards for good behaviour is a great way to motivate yourself and to allow you to add a little fun to your life
without having to completely give up on being disciplined and strict.
One simple example of this might be with your daily work. If you normally start your day’s work by getting a cup of tea and then having a chat, it’s time to turn that on its head. From now on, you get the cup of tea and the chat as a reward for doing other good work.
You’re only allowed those things after you have completed X amount of work. This motivates you and it allows you to work less interrupted. The same goes for checking your phone – put it on silent and allow yourself to check it once an hour for five minutes.
Doing this helps to prevent procrastination because your will power doesn’t have to be so strong as to completely avoid ever doing that thing. Instead, it just has to be strong enough to hold off for a while.
Conclusion…One More Thing…
And one last thing you can do to train yourself out of procrastination: meditate.
Meditation is essentially an exercise in discipline.
This is the practice of trying to remove all distracting thoughts for just a short period of time and using this skill, you can start to become far less easily controlled by stress, by tiredness, by hunger or by other impulses.
Meditation makes us far more disciplined as well as much less stressed and far better able to concentrate and focus for long periods of time.
Of course, that requires discipline in itself. Start with small five minute sessions a few times a week and build up from there!
I hope you have gained some insight into what is procrastination and how to overcome it. Share and post your thoughts here and I will respond.
Read more on meditation in my other posts:
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