I should’ve written this article two weeks ago. Instead of doing anything productive, I spent the last two weeks playing video games. It was a fun yet depressing time. Simply because I wanted to do something useful, but I couldn’t figure out what and how. As a result, I procrastinate. This has been a problem of mine for quite a long time. And I’m sure if you’ve landed in this article, you probably have the same problem. I’ve Googled ways to overcome procrastination gazillion times, but nothing worked on me. So, I’ve come out with a new idea. What about… try being a better procrastinator?
Procrastination is often related to laziness. The eeriness of the word ‘hard work’ can sometimes prevent us from doing the hard work. It freezes our brain somehow. Hence, we start to look for an instant gratification. An instant gratification becomes some instant gratifications. It could be binge-watching YouTube videos, playing video games, or Netflix and chill for days. Or weeks. Even months.
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To be a better procrastinator, we need to understand why do we procrastinate.
Some studies suggest that procrastination has something to do with difficulty managing distress. We tend to procrastinate when we have to deal with something tough, boring, stressful, frustrating, and so on. Ironically, this habit will cause much more distress in the long run. Especially if the task has a deadline.
Warning: For some people, procrastination is not merely a bad habit. It can be a sign of serious mental health issues such as ADHD, OCD, depression, and anxiety. Procrastination can also be a cause of serious stress and illness. If you suffer from these conditions, you should seek the advice of trained professionals.
Without further ado, here are some causes why we procrastinate:
In other words, the fear of making any tiny mistakes. It is a serious thing because it can cause people to put off the works they should do in time. On the other hand, being a perfectionist is a good thing if we’ve already started to put out some works and revise them before we publish or submit them. But it’s dangerous if it keeps us from doing what we’re supposed to be doing.
Lack of self-confidence
Some personal beliefs like “I’m not good at this” or “I can never do this” are causing us to procrastinate over and over again. These beliefs are stressing us more than the work itself. As a result, it increases the likelihood of procrastinating.
Don’t know how to begin
The task might be new, too difficult, or too complex to you. Hence, you start to overthink about the outcome even before you get started. The worst part is, it even keeps you from researching ways to get your tasks done.
Misjudge the time estimation
You underestimate how long it will take you to complete the task. And you overestimate how quickly you will complete it. It is also known as planning fallacy.
How to procrastinate better?
There are no easy ways to overcome this vicious cycle of procrastination. And because it’s too complex and too complicated to find the cure, I decided to ‘invent’ some possible ways to maximize this habit to its full potential.
Well, I don’t mean to share tips on how to be a complete deadbeat. What I’m trying to share is how to finish your tasks while you’re procrastinating.
With that being said, here are six ways to become a better procrastinator.
1. Do the difficult tasks first
While some other articles suggest you to do the easy tasks first, I’ll suggest you the opposite. Doing the easy tasks first may be helpful for you to get started, but you’ll soon lose motivation when the tasks are getting more difficult.
Do those tasks that are least enjoyable so you can get them out of your way earlier. By doing so, you’ll have more focus on doing easier and enjoyable tasks. As a result, you’ll be able to boost your motivation to finish your tasks.
It can be hard to start this way, but I believe it’s much better than getting stuck in the middle of your projects.
2. Be creative
There are several advantages that only lazy people can possess. Just like what Bill Gates said, “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.” I’m not saying that a person who procrastinates is a lazy person. Procrastination and laziness are two related things, but they’re not the same.
Procrastination is an active process where you choose to do more pleasing things when you know you’re supposed to be doing something that is less enjoyable. On the other hand, laziness is a sign of apathy, inactivity, and unwillingness to act.
If you find it difficult to do certain tasks, you can try to change that by making them easier. Invent a new approach— a creative approach— to simplify the same task.
3. Plan as you procrastinate
In some cases, you have no idea on how to start a new project. You get overwhelmed by the amount of time you’ve spent to figure out how to get it started. During this phase let yourself to procrastinate. But be mindful to procrastinate better and aim to be a better procrastinator.
Give yourself some break time while letting some ideas to come out to the surface. Let your mind wander. Build some doable strategies and make a note out of it. Finally, set a date and a time when you will start doing your project. In order to be a better procrastinator, you need to know how to schedule procrastination.
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4. Stop aiming at perfection
Perfectionist people tend to wait until the situation is perfect to proceed. Ironically, perfect times rarely exist. Even if it exists, you might miss it because you’re too busy procrastinating. For perfectionist people, if the time is not perfect, they believe they can’t start doing anything. This mentality can hold you back from starting or completing tasks.
I’m not saying it’s okay to make craps.
Instead of focusing on perfection, focus on being better and get them done. This way, you’ll start to focus on starting and completing whatever it is that you’re doing. If you have some time before the due time, you can revise your project and this time you can aim to make it perfect.
5. Minimize the distractions
We live in an era where we can get distracted easily even if we’re alone in our homes. This occurs because we let them distract us. Yes, I’m talking about the technology we have today: the internet, smartphones, TVs, social media, and so on.
I was no exception to this. Addicted to social media, binge-watched YouTube videos and Netflix movies from dusk until dawn, and some other unproductive things that I couldn’t be proud of. I’m pretty sure some of you also struggle with this addiction.
One day, I was so fed up with my daily unproductive routines because I realized I spent too much time on my phone. So I decided to get rid of it. I asked one of my family members to take it away and hide it from me for some unspecified period of time in order to reduce my social media addiction.
And how’s the result?
I feel better at focusing on doing things and get them done more quickly because I don’t let anything to distract me anymore. I still delay doing things, though. But at least I’ve eliminated one of the biggest sources of my procrastination. I’m officially a better procrastinator now
6. Be kind to yourself
Like I said earlier in this article, some personal beliefs such as “I’m not good at this” or “I can never do this” are causing us to procrastinate over and over again. Stop punishing yourself for things which you haven’t even tried yet.
Instead of feeding these negative beliefs, you’d better start to assure yourself with some positive thoughts like “Maybe I can be good at this, I’ll give it a try” or “Everyone is good at something because they had tried to do it.”
Beating yourself down will make things worse. Remember that success in everything is more about mentality.
A message from a master procrastinator
Before I complete this article, —which I really am grateful to finish after two weeks of struggle with procrastination— I’d like to share with you a very resourceful video for battling procrastination.
The speaker, Tim Urban, is a writer of Wait But Why and through this TED Talk, he tried to make us understand the mentality of a procrastinator.
Stay procrastinate, but aim to be a better procrastinator.
Are you a procrastinator too? If so, tell me what do you usually do to fight your habit?
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