Monday, 12 September 2016 10:29

How To Not Procrastinate


It's easy to procrastinate about doing work, mowing the lawn or making that phone call you really didn't want to make.

I struggle with procrastination.

Things like mowing the lawn seem like the bane of my existance on a lot of weekends. I really hate it. I'll procrastinate until mid week, but find that I hate it hanging over my head just as much... especially when the wife is reminding me every day that the grass isn't getting any shorter.

I've decided to handle procrastination head on.

You can read more about what lead me up to the decision in my August Report, but essentially, I just got sick and tired of these things hanging over my head and realized that procrastination was giving me more headaches than it was worth.

Reverse Engineering Procrastination

Just about everyone knows what procrastination is. We've all put things off that we didn't want to do. Procrastination goes a lot deeper, and some of the ways that we procrastinate are not as clear as this.

I'm too busy

You have a mound of "to do's", but you're already neck deep in doing something. I often find that I will put things off that don't seem to need being done as much as whatever it is I'm doing at the time. One of the best examples is putting your family time aside to work on those TPS reports from home during the weekend. While you might not be doing TPS reports, per se, putting off family time could be one of those procrastination moves if your work really doesn't need to be done (and most of the time it really doesn't). 

I'm too tired

I've been there. Many times over. You just don't have the energy or gumption to do what needs to be done, even though almost anything is more important than being tired. 

I've had to face this monster head on and do things to put it to rest. The things that need to be done are more important than sleep, and I cannot allow myself to just waste my life away snoozing any more than I already have.

I don't know where to begin

This is often a very big excuse to procrastinate. In your mind, the task or tasks seem insurmountable. You begin to feel like it'd take you forever to get the job done. In the end, you finally just don't do it because...

It's Too Hard!

The final big reason people don't get things done. The phrase, "It's Too Hard" serves two purposes: 1) It allows you to put something off indefinitely. 2) You don't have to feel bad about not even attempting to do it because you know you'd fail.

It's easy to use this excuse when you're half-heartedly trying to do something, such as learn a new language or solve complex quadratic equations, for example.

My wife speaks fluent Korean. She and her mom will talk in a mix of both English and Korean, giving me about 5% comprehension of what they're talking about. They both thought it would be a good idea for me to learn the language, and I went as far as to buy a Rosetta Stone DVD to learn, but guess what? I never got past the first phrase.

I came up with every excuse in the book not to do it. I procrastinated about learning, I put it off in exchange for something "more worthwhile". Now it sits on my bookshelf, and I still feel guilty seeing it sit there.

Doing Away With Procrastination Is Easier Said Than Done

It's very easy to say you're going to do something, but when push comes to shove, it's a lot harder to not procrastinate than it is to push it aside for something else. This is what I have struggled with for a lot of my life. I'd say that I'm not going to procrastinate, but then in the end, I'd still not do what needed to be done.

I've come up with a system

It's not failable. You might have something that works better. Regardless, here's what I do to avoid procrastination:

1. Organize tasks on based on importance. Sure, everyone knows how to do this, but the trick is to organize them based on the likely hood that you're going to put them off. Chances are that the most important things that you gotta do will be near the top of the list because they take up time or are really hard for you to muster the energy to complete.

2. Push through at least one of those things before you allow yourself to do anything else that might be fun. Limit your most important tasks to things that are doable and something you can actually complete.

3. For every item that's at the top of the list that you know you can't complete without help, commit to getting the help you need to get the item done. This also is true of those grueling, mundane tasks (like mowing the lawn for me... I'd rather pay some kid on my block $10-$15 to mow the darn thing than do it myself).

While it's a very simple system, it works. Sure, I pay for the help in number 3, but things wouldn't get done otherwise, and it helps me keep on track to achieve the goals that I have!