In today’s world, so many people are not happy with their situations but do not seem to be getting out of them. Some set goal after goal but don’t appear to achieve anything. It seems like nothing is changing in their lives. One of the reasons for this is procrastination. Countless people will opt for something that will grant them instant gratification than to go the more difficult route of self-discipline. Some people that self-discipline is a trait that some people are just born with and that if you don’t have it, it is expected (and accepted) that you would procrastinate most tasks. This is not true, like anything else, self-discipline is a habit that you can build over time. These tips will help you avoid procrastination and start achieving the goals that will lead to a better life.
Avoiding Procrastination Tip 1: 5 Second Rule
The 5 second rule which was developed by Mel Robbins states that when the time comes to do the task, you are probably not going to feel like doing it. So countdown from 5 and when you get to 1 just go. She explains it all in her book that when you countdown 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…our brains expect something to happen once you get to 1. The thing that needs to happen at this point is the task that you are supposed to be doing. The thing with procrastination is that it is fuelled by your feelings. You procrastinate simply because you do not feel like doing something. The 5 second rule helps to eliminate how you feel and literally just do it.
For example, you plan on waking up at 5 am to study so you set an alarm. When the alarm rings you probably just want to hit the snooze button. To avoid procrastination in this case, switch off the alarm, count down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Just jump out of bed. It is not about what you feel like doing but about doing what needs to be done in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, go!
Avoiding Procrastination Tip 2: Making Conscious Small Choices
The small choices that we make in our every day lives transcend over a lifetime. What this basically means is that you may make one bad decision such as procrastinating to do something. This might not be an issue today, but as you continue to make this small choice of procrastination every single day, next thing months or maybe even years have gone by and that decision now has a great effect on your life. This principle is best explained as the slight edge.
“To understand patience, to understand that little steps, compounded, do make a difference. That the things you do every single day, the things that don’t look dramatic, that don’t even look like they matter, do matter. That they not only make a difference-they make all the difference” -Jeff Olson.
This is (in very few words) what the slight edge philosophy is about. Using this philosophy to change your mindset, you will be able to make conscious choice every single day, understanding that they will have an impact in your life.
You understand that you need to obtain a certain qualification to be eligible for a promotion. So you set a goal to attend part-time classes to obtain said qualification. If you don’t register right after setting the goal, that is probably not a big deal plus the position that you want has not even been made available yet. But then procrastination of this goal happens everyday after that for different reasons such as “things just got busy, maybe this weekend”, “oh but I have that bridal shower to attend this weekend, so next week”, “This week is just so crazy with everything going on at work”. And over time, you will probably even stop thinking about it until a couple of months down the line when the position is made available and you can’t be considered for it because you are not qualified.
So this fuels you to register but now, the position won’t be made available for another 2 years. Before you know it, you’ve been in the same position for 10 years and you are so unhappy but you don’t know where it all went wrong.
So understanding that making conscious small choices, like avoiding procrastination, has a huge impact on your life will help you stop procrastination.
Avoiding Procrastination Tip 3: Setting Up Systems
If you do not have self-discipline, then it is important for you to set up systems that make it almost impossible for procrastination to happen. Systems that will ensure that regardless of how you feel, you will most likely do the task that you have to do.
“I value self-discipline, but creating systems that make it next to impossible to misbehave is more reliable than self-control.” -Tim Ferriss
It does not help for you to set a goal to eat healthier and yet keep unhealthy snacks within reach. Like Tim Ferriss says, self-control is not as reliable as creating a system that would make it easier to achieve your goals and avoid procrastination.
Another example is that if you plan on going to the gym the next morning, your system setup could look like this:
- Set an alarm
- Put the alarm in another room
- Layout gym clothes in that room
- Leave a bottle of water next to gym clothes
- Leave a little note reminding you why you felt it was important for you to go to the gym
The last one may sound weird, but it helps to e reminded of why you have to do something and avoid procrastination.
Avoiding Procrastination Tip 4: Start To Do It Before You Do It
This tip is slightly related to the first one. Sometime procrastination happens because you feel like the task at hand is just too massive and you don’t even know where to begin. With the “Start to do it before you do it” strategy you literally start to do the task before you have to start doing it. This way when you have to do the task, you have already started so it will be easier to just continue.
This might sound confusing, an example will help. If you have set a goal to stop ordering take-out and cook more, then your setup could be like this:
13:00 Attend some meeting
14:30 Go to the gym
16:00 Cook Meal
If your schedule looks something like this then as you prepare to go to the gym, set aside an extra 10 minutes to start preparing dinner. So you could decide what it is you want to cook. Then take out all of the ingredients that you are going to use or even chop out the vegetables that you’ll need. This way, when you get back from the gym the chances that you will not cook are reduced seeing that everything is already laid out for you. Plus if you do end up ordering take-out, then you will have the chore of having to put all of the ingredients away.
Avoiding Procrastination Tip 5: Knowing Why
Sometimes you would procrastinate because you feel that the goal is not really worth it anymore. And that is fine, set goals that are relevant and are worth it for you. If your “why” is not big enough for you, you’re probably just not going to do anything. However, if your “why’ or reason for having to achieve your goal is big enough then ensure that you constantly remind yourself why you have to get up and achieve your goals. Keep those reminders around you to motivate you achieve your goals and avoid procrastination.
Take Home: Is It Possible To Stop Procrastination?
Is it possible to stop procrastination? Yes. Is it worth trying? Definitely! We have provided 5 top tips to help you get started (our favourite is tip 3). Pick one and stick with it for over 21 days. Thats all it takes to develop a good habit. So you are essentially only 21 days away from being a new and improved person as long as you are willing to put in the work.
Are there any other tips that you use to avoid procrastination. Let us know in the comments section below.