Objective: Staying Ahead and not Falling Behind
Are you struggling with work that you’re more than capable of doing?
Improving procrastination habits means improving your mental well-being.
My favorite part! Get more work done in less time, have more fun while working, and lowered stress with increased results.
This article is more than a motivational post, with surface level examples: “make a to-do list”, “do work before it is due”.
Instead, we’ll go over practical advice that you can apply today! Or tomorrow 😉
Before reading this post, I strongly recommend reading Part1. Focuses strongly towards catching up.
Procrastination feels like an endless loop of frustration. Actually… It is. Breaking bad procrastination habits is difficult.
Psychology professor Joseph Ferrari, one of the pioneers (one of the first people) of procrastination research believes even though practically everyone procrastinates. An Estimated 20% of people are chronic procrastinators.
People don’t procrastinate because of laziness. Procrastinators work the hardest and still often find themselves behind.
When we finally do catch-up on our tasks, or miss/fail deadlines, what do we do? Vow(promise) to stop falling behind schedule: work, school, and expectations.
Next week comes, we catch our-self in a similar dilemma(problem).
Let’s figure out a way to make this a reality. Before continuing I want you to write down 3 reasons you want to start.
- Terrible school grades: Fewer internships, and scholarship money.
- Less Free time to spend: Missed out on fun events, relationships, time with family/friends
Now, I’m going to teach you how to prevent yourself from constantly falling behind. What does this mean?
First off, I’ll tell you what it does not mean. I am not going to tell you motivational quotes like.
“When you want to succeed as much as you want to breathe then you will be successful”. That’s not fair to you. We all want to succeed. Procrastinators work harder yet still undergo more stress.
Set smaller deadlines to stay ahead
Ironically, the problem with procrastinators is that they lack deadlines. The larger the task, the bigger a problem this becomes.
Not having enough last-minutes is not the problem to procrastination.
How do I Set Deadlines?
Have a deadline for every day. Then shorten it, gradually to every hour.
Write down one thing that needs to be completed daily, by a certain time.
- Read 5 emails by 12:00Pm
- Shower before work
- Have clothes on to leave the house 30 minutes before work.
- Pack lunch by 10:00 pm every day before work
Can I work Without Hard Deadlines?
Short answer yes. There is a different way to use deadlines for procrastination. Have you tried using deadlines without time?
Set deadlines behind other activities/tasks, especially ones you enjoy or need to do.
*Clarification: By need, I don’t mean something that risks your health and/or mental well being: Medications, Insulin etc.*
When I started blog writing, getting any words out was difficult for me some days. Realizing that some are always better than none, I set a simple goal, Write 500 words every day.
This goal did not work at all. I would keep up for a few days, then fizzle out. I ended up dropping it to 100 words. I was more consistent but did not see results.
At the beginning of the day for 2 weeks I made a rule. Do not brush your teeth before writing down at least 100 words
I know this sounds gross but not as gross as not reaching your goals because you procrastinated. Half-joking, half-serious. Find what works for you.
Even though it worked well for me, everybody has different strings to be pulled. The main reason being, not brushing my teeth made me uncomfortable. I could not eat, kiss my girlfriend, or speak to people without suffocating them.
Setting deadlines behind other tasks are experiment worthy. Usually, best to balance them out in a pattern: (Undesirable task) (Desirable/important task) (Undesirable task)(Desirable/important task)
As I began pushing myself to write at a larger volume (500 words per day). I would not let myself leave my bedroom until this was written.
This meant that if I was hungry, thirsty, or wanted to go somewhere. Then I better write those 500 words as soon as possible.
This is extreme. You may find that not leaving the house, or not leaving the second(bedroom) floor of your house is enough motivation.
Examples of Procrastinating without Hard-Deadlines:
- Keep Phone off until I make breakfast
- Turn off wi-fi, until bedroom clean
- Stay at Library until Assignment is Complete
- Won’t Book Flight Tickets Until I Make Three Songs
- Won’t go to the bar unless I go to the gym first
- Can’t Watch TV until I washed the dishes.
“Keep your Vision in Front of You” – Joel Olsteen
If you want something to become a habit, keep a symbol of it in view.
People ask me, how I went from bombing every stand-up comedy show, to competing as a finalist in almost the same year. I did it by practicing every day and writing a great deal.
However, there was a major change that made the hard-work turn into a habit.
I give a great deal of credit to Joel Olsteen’s advice “Keep your vision in Front of You”. I bought a microphone with a golden top.
I kept it on my nightstand. Every day I woke up to it. When bored, I picked it up and started practicing and joking into it. After 3 months, I wouldn’t even need to plan time to do it. It was just a habit.
After a week this soon became a habit. Whenever I did not have it in front of me, I felt anxious. I needed that thing to sleep like a little child needed a teddy bear.
Set tomorrow’s deadlines before you go to sleep. Right before bed, reflecting on what needs to be done the next day, and what you’d like to accomplish. After waking up, the work can begin without delay.
Examples of setting multiple smaller deadlines:
Example 1: Movie Director
When a director shoots a movie, he is given multiple deadlines. Also, several scenes he is supposed to complete each day. He is also told how long each one will take.
This allows to let the director know when he is falling behind schedule. The earlier you fall behind schedule, the easier it is to catch up.
Knowing your 1 hour behind schedule for a project due in a year, manageable. Being 1 week behind schedule for a project due in 3 weeks, extremely stressful.
Example 2: Stand-up comedian
After showing my cousin (chronic procrastinator), a Dave Chappelle comedy special he was dumbfounded. He asked “These guys talk for hours! That’s like a whole movie! How did they come up with that?”.
What he did not know, is that speaking for an hour is not as impressive as you think. If you can speak for a minute, you can speak for ten.
This would be a similar logic as saying, “how did you read that whole book? There was like 200 pages!”
Here’s the secret on how stand-up comedians come up with an hour special. One hint, Deadlines! Every week they set a plan to help them stay ahead in their work and not fall behind.
e.g. Joe Comedian schedule
Every day: Write/perform 5 minutes’ worth of jokes. After, take the top 20% of your jokes, 1 minute worth of the best jokes.
Every week: Put all the best jokes together, and then edit them.
That’s 5 minutes’ worth of your best material per week. After 14 weeks (3 months) You have 70 minutes, which you can shave down to a crisp 60 minutes of comedy. There you go! An hours’ worth of solid comedy.
Example 3: Getting Ready for work/school on time
Alarm/Wake-up Time: 7:00am
Work time: 9:00 am
Commute length to work: 20 minutes
This is an example of Julia’s work scenario. Julia wakes up 2 hours before work. Julia has been receiving poor work reviews because she’s a she’s always late to work.
When she does get to work on time, she is usually rushing in the morning and only getting there at the last minute.
Julia’s procrastination leads to her doing most of her preparation in the morning in the 10 minutes before it’s time to leave.
How to Stop Leaving things to the last minute
Julia needs to use deadlines instead of start-lines. Julia should list all the activities she needs to get done in the morning by a certain time.
Benefiting her, by making sure that if anything surprising comes up while preparing for work. She will have a relative number of chores/tasks already completed.
|The 7:00 am alarm goes off:||~|
|7:05||Get out of bed|
Wash face, brush teeth, use the washroom
|7:30||Get work clothes on|
|7:50||Finish preparing food|
|8:20||Leisure and catch-up time:
Check for keys, wallets, jacket, check email etc.
|8:30||The car should be on way to work|
|8:50||Inside work building|
|8:55||At work desk|
Julia could write this morning schedule on her phone, and always know if she is on track to go to work. Everything being done is linear.
The crucial rule of staying ahead as a procrastinator is giving a little bit of breathing room. Enough room to catch-up when falling behind, yet not enough time to feel comfortable fitting multiple tasks at the same time interval.
Keep Your Queue to work in front of you
One of the procrastinators largest enemy are tasks that can’t be done the day before. They cannot be finished.
While also having a due date that is multiple weeks and/or months away. Especially during school (college/university etc.).
This is an add on to the five-step process. Help break-down any overwhelming tasks. If you haven’t read it yet, catch the previous article here.
Break things into parts, and then set deadlines.
Example 1: Typing an Essay
Scenario: John has a 4000-word research essay due 4 weeks from now. He wants to finish it early, but he’s too lazy.
Find Essay Topic
List references/sources that you could use
(Beginning)Introduction paragraph outline: Thesis, titles, organizing points etc.
Estimated 200/4000 words
Complete Essay Introduction Paragraph
Find supporting Quotes and statistics to be included in the essay
Draft Key Points
Complete full detailed essay outline: body paragraphs, conclusion etc.
Estimated 2000/4000 words
Complete Body Paragraphs and conclusion
Estimated 3500/4000 words
Get Proofread by peers
Review the grading scheme
Structure Article to look presentable
Follow the logic of the example, not the specific situation. Never start off hard. This can lead to work burnout, making you slack off and lose momentum the first week.
Another one can be pride. When there is large progress made at the beginning, of a project people feel too prideful. Like the tortoise and the Hare fable.
Finishing 50% in the first 2 days might have you abandon the plan altogether and perhaps skip a week.
Sometimes we do underestimate our abilities; However, procrastination usually comes from working hard in short burst and then becoming exhausted.
Always say No!
Say no, more than you say yes
“Really successful people say no to almost everything” – Warren Buffet
Find the rest of this article about the power of no, right here.
After learning the power of no, I love the rap lyric “I’m not a yes, I’m a no man.”
Giving up time is like giving up food. You can not live without it. We spend our time, literally. Going out to the night event: clubbing, partying or concert is a 6-hour expense.
Don’t let me get in the way of fun. Keeping a positive social life can build strong connections. Just realize the sacrifice that is being made when spending time.
Rejecting an Invitation
When to reject an invitation:
That is why I urge you to use it carefully. When you’re invited to an event you do not really feel like going to how do you feel after?
This is the part that matters the most. Think about the ride back home; The next day/week after, will you regret going.
Reading minds is not my specialty, which does not matter. Nobody likes having their time wasted.
Key point: When somebody asks for your time, it’s their job to make you say yes. Yet a common dilemma is needing a reason to say no. The reason
Key point: The less time used, the more valuable it is. Giving people access to your time makes them take it for granted. Letting others use your time makes you their go-to source.
Key point: Too nervous to say no? Just say, I’ll get back to you. Make sure you send a text early.
Why would a person try asking somebody else for their time, when they know you’ll always be available?
Deciding to accept an invitation? ask yourself these questions:
Do I like being around this person? Would I want to be closer to them in the future?
How do you feel around this person? Interested, engaged, happy, laughing? Versus, tired, sluggish etc.
Time is an investment; our best friends are the ones we spend/spent the most time around. Spending time with one person means taking away time from another.
I wish it wasn’t personal, but it simply is. Unless I enjoy somebody’s energy and personality. Hanging out with them simply won’t happen.
Do I gain anything: monetary, experience, health, fun?
One of my strongest motivators.
We go to work because our time is bought. Money is always a good motivator. No matter how bad a day at work is, you still get paid.
Is there an experience? An invite to play video games is not an experience. Watching an educational lecture from a professional is. e.g. TED Talk. Leave
Will this benefit my mental health? Relaxation is everything. I will never turn down an invite to go for a short walk. Especially when stressed.
Where’s the fun? Not much to be said here if you got invited to something fun, this article would be closed, and you’d be putting on clothes to go out right now😉
How important is it to this person?
If somebody needs help, I’d use this as a veto card. Especially somebody that means a lot to you. Never turn down a good friend in need.
When specifically needed, then I’d be more inclined. Otherwise, you should not feel forced.
How do I feel / Am I tired?
Uh-oh, it’s 12:00 pm and you still haven’t gotten out of bed. Already behind on the schedule.
The phone buzzes and wakes you up with a text message saying, “Want to hang out?” (mingle)
If you’re already tired, you’re just going to get more tired. Burning out is a huge time waster. It sets back momentum and productivity.
On to top of this, you probably won’t enjoy it.
How busy am I?
If you paid attention to the deadline section, this answer should be automatic. Does going to this event put you within 24 hours to a week within the deadline? Depending on the scenario.
Never put people over plans.
Do I have better plans, will this affect them?
Choose a better plan. Receiving an invitation near a date important/sacred to you: near Holidays, Long weekends, during summer is difficult. Safe to say no.
Use Down Time to work
Downtime does not equal to spare-time. Even though they’re similar.
Downtime is helpful for beating procrastination without trying. This is because during downtime there is nothing else to do.
Downtime is the time where you have short pockets of time available (5-30 minutes). But do not exactly have anything to do.
Examples of Down-Time:
- Waiting/riding the bus somewhere.
- Waiting in your friend’s car, while he goes to get gas.
- Waiting for food to be cooked at a restaurant
- Waiting at the laundromat.
- Waiting for your friend to get changed.
- Waiting for food baking in the oven.
- Taking a work break
- Cleaning your house
- Waiting for someone to finish the restroom because their spending too long using their phone
- Waiting for your tea to cool down
You should be able to find at least 10 minutes of Down-Time in your day to day life. 4 Hours a month.
Key tip: Make work portable. Try to bring your laptop everywhere What if I don’t have room? Try a tablet with a keyboard, what if I don’t have a table? Download the google keyboard app.
How to use Down-Time
Read a book. The most helpful and useful way to make a difference in your life. You can end up reading at least a book a day.
What if I don’t have the time or space to pick up a book?
Audible is a subscription that you can cancel whenever you want. Also, once you download a book, you get to keep it, including the audio.
- Send important, emails, texts etc.
- Listen to Podcasts about your line of work
- Listen to Lecture recording
- Set a to-do list
- Make a phone call
Scheduling to avoid procrastination
How to Do Work in Advance
This is how you can make procrastination work for you.
Have you heard the quote?
“if you’re five minutes late you’re on time, and if you’re on time you’re late?”-John Goodman (Denzel Washington)
There’s truth to this. Anytime somebody falling behind in their work (including you) they say this quote “I wish I had one more day”.
Starting from today, all your work is due the day before the submission date. Have a project for a client due on Friday?
You should be trying to get it done by Wednesday. Meaning that you can’t go out to the bar until it is finished, or start a new TV series, or anything else that might derail you.
We’ll discuss learning this habit in more depth later into the text.
Create a To Do list
Create a daily to-do list for tasks that should be completed within 24-48 hours. Forgetfulness and procrastination go together. Seeing the objectives of the day give you something to work towards.
What if I’m too lazy to make a to-do list?
Write every upcoming task in your to-do list. Whether you have an Apple or Windows operating system. Every computer comes with a “sticky notes” app.
Writing tasks down is not needed if you have a smart-phone.
Pretend today is February 2nd and you have an assignment due on February 12th.
Tell Siri/Bixby: “Remind me in 8 days, I have an assignment on February 12th”
Still confused? watch this quick commercial on using Siri as a personal assistant.
This will make sure that in case you forgot you’re reminded 2 days before it is due. Giving you a bonus of 3 days in the notice: because everything is due the day before.
Art of Rewarding yourself
We’ve all been told, “use rewards to do the difficult task”. Ignoring the fact, rewards are a reason we avoid difficult tasks in the first place.
Humans are driven by rewards, that’s why drugs, video games, movies, are so addictive. There is a simple equation, You + Drug/Movie/Games etc. = Immediate Pleasure.
Side Note: Easy Dopamine
These are called easy dopamine because they virtually always make you feel better immediately. When you eat ice cream, or down half a bottle of vodka, you’re going to feel the euphoric effects without a doubt.
This does not mean the fun is forbidden. We all need time to wind down. Just remember, the easier the fun comes, the faster it goes. Nobody looks back at the end of a new year and thinks, “I wish I: Played more video games, had more drinks, watched more movies”.
The harder a person works, the easier they are satisfied. I’m a movie fanatic, I used to watch one movie every day. Through the late night searching for the perfect movie to watch.
After cutting back heavily, I’ve become blown away by any semi-decent movie. Why? Compared to creating content for a client or formatting an excel data sheet. Any movie with decent acting and production is a masterpiece.
Side Note: Hard Dopamine
So, why is it so hard to stay productive? We don’t believe in the process.
We subconsciously believe that if we study hard, we still won’t pass that test. That if we go to the gym every week, we might not get the body we want. That if we work on our business, it won’t go anywhere.
Why? These are called hard dopamine for a reason. Going to the gym takes about 3 months for others to start seeing some noticeable results, 6 months to truly be proud of yourself, and a full year before people can tell you work out just by looking at you.
Believing in the process is like believing in a higher power. You need to understand that when you throw time, and consistent effort into a project/mission results will eventually show.
There is no way around it, that’s just how the world works. Regardless of who you are.
If you can do something for 30 minutes a day or 3.5 hours a week, you’ll see results. Depending on the pursuit, I tend to see significant results after 3 months.
Side Note ended
Things do get Easier
Tasks become easier the more we do them. This is without conscious effort. The reason this happens is because of something in our brain called “neuroplasticity”.
Remember this, when you find a task difficult. Pulling it off today means it will be slightly easier the upcoming day.
This means that the more you do a task the easier it is. Almost like a videogame.
The more a person pushes their brains to complete mentally consuming tasks/ decisions, the brain adapts.
In addition, completing and practicing a difficult task/skill makes other tasks easier, while building confidence. The term called a positive feedback loop. In addition, as you succeed in other areas, it gives you the confidence to take on other tasks.
Learn more about building confidence and momentum to build success, I highly recommend reading the book “winner’s effect”.
Lazy: How to do tasks “tomorrow”
How to do easy stuff examples:
The reason procrastinator is difficult is that people have an all or nothing mentality. Either, we can complete a task fully or immediately put it off-tasks.
The problem of an “all-or-nothing” mentality: as deadlines come closer, the work becomes difficult.
Responsibilities build up, unexpected things throw us off track and now we have a harder time completing the track
Examples: Putting off tasks the right way
- No gym today? Well, pack your gym bag, and mix your protein powder.
- Cooking? Chop up the vegetables and marinate the chicken for tomorrow.
- Dirty dishes? Clean off the food in the garbage, then rinse the dishes before you put them in the sink. Now they’re easier to wash next time around.
- Presentation? Get your clothes ready, and choose the theme/template and Topic (if applicable)
- Need to fix something around the house (E.g. door handle)? Find your tools, door handle model, and YouTube videos
- Procrastinating an assignment? Read over the questions, and then put it down.
What do all these examples have in common? They are much easier than the task itself. However, the examples make starting the task much easier.
This is called making time work for you. This philosophy was influenced by a highly recommended book called the Slight Edge Principle.
Do not switch between tasks.
Don’t go from a homework assignment to a math assignment to checking your phone.
Many have the problem of studying. Working for hours and having nothing to show for it?
Never multi-task, Unnecessary waste of time. When a task is so important that it can’t wait? Then prioritize.
Then its best to delay the previous task and get the important task out of the way as soon as possible.
How to reward yourself?
We’re aware that our actions are driven by reward.
Avoid negative reinforcement. Not to get confused with being aware of the negative consequences of your actions.
Threatening people with punishment rarely works. Prisons are overcrowded around the whole world for reason.
Use positive reinforcement instead.
I’m motivated by positives. Changing your mindset becomes easier with practice.
Mindset Chart Example
|Starting Work project Early.||I don’t want to get in trouble for handing it in early.||I could really impress my boss if I have more time to work on this|
|Asking out that girl/guy||I don’t want to be lonely forever||This could be the start of a fulfilling relationship|
|Applying for that job that’s out of your league||I don’t want to be broke.||This could be a great learning opportunity; Prove to myself how much I’m worth.|
|Going to the gym||I don’t want to be fat this summer||I’ll feel healthier and have more energy throughout the day,|
Procrastinating a difficult task? Write down 5 benefits of doing it.
Example 1: I want to call in sick for work
*A sickness that won’t affect quality, or make others around you sick*
- Improve a job
- Progress towards promotion.
- Money: Add towards starting a business, buy clothes, vacation fund etc.
- Save the sick day for the better occasion
- Work is easier with more experience.
Those are 5 reasons. Obviously, certain reasons motivate different people. That’s why you need to come up with your own reasons.
Reward yourself Using Leisure Activities
For example, the boss asked you to do a 10-minute presentation at work next week, and you haven’t even started it. The day is rough and you’re tired. Don’t be afraid to reward yourself
*Warning this is more of a plan F. Should not be used more than once a month. Especially in the beginning*
Sometimes you need to make a deal with the devil. D
Discipline is a muscle that gets sore. When lacking all motivation, using positive reinforcement might not work
In this situation, I’d tell myself that if I finish 5 minutes of the presentation, I’ll order pizza and watch a movie. When used sparingly, it can be your secret weapon.
What if I Can’t Come up with 5 Reasons to Motivate Myself?
Can’t come up with enough reasons?
The internet is your friend. You spend time all your time using the internet anyhow! Why not use it in a way to change your future. (just kidding)
Alrighty then, you’re lucky that I love the people who support my content 😉 Worst case scenario, just google them.
Instruction: google “reasons you should [Insert task] “
Example: “reasons you should go to the gym”
Voila! Isn’t that beautiful
Learn from patterns. When an optional task or activity is constantly being procrastinated, Should you really be doing it then?
This is time to get serious, take a deep breath before continuing. If you’re stressed, you can just continue to the next section and come back after.
Not being able to stick to your priorities could be a sign that you’re in the wrong field. It may also be a sign of other things such as ADHD, depression, poor diet. Speaking
Coming from a strict immigrant family, I was pressured to pursue a real job(career): Lawyer, Doctor, Engineer.
I tried to be a doctor because that’s what was demanded of me.
Learning about the sciences through documentaries, and books were always fun. At the beginning of my first semester of (Biology, Chemistry, Anatomy etc.) studying extremely hard was the only option to keep my neck above water. Receiving a B+ average
Starting off strong was simple. Not tapering off near the end of the semester was the difficult part.
What do I do Now?
This may take some time. Many times, the change does not need to be drastic. Deciding website developer isn’t for you, doesn’t mean you need to make a drastic change like to a firefighter.
Slightly changing your career path is a part of growth. On a positive note, the experience you gained on the side gives you a uniqueness.
For instance, a website developer turned to a graphic designer. They will have an easier time finding clients in the web development industry because they would have a better idea of what they’re looking for.
This trend is frequently in many fields.
Hall of fame NFL (American Football League) tight-end Tony Gonzalez dropped basketball during his Junior year of college, to focus on football.
Kanye West used to produce beats for Jay Z, then made a transition to becoming one of the most widely recognized artists in his generation.
Ask Friends, Teachers and Workers People we surround ourselves with can see your strengths better than you. Being less biased from the outside looking in.
Don’t believe me? When things come naturally, it’s easy to assume that anybody can just do it. Do you have friends that downplay their skills?
The talented singer that only sings in the shower because of their insecure. The creative painter that throws their work in the trash. The funny friend that won’t start a podcast/ YouTube channel.
Where does your mind lay?
What do you spend time learning and doing when not being paid (or at school)? Ever since I was a kid I watched stand-up comedy and read books frequently.
Turns out, writing and public speaking are my passions. I never thought this would be possible paths.
These are skills that I rarely struggle with, in terms of procrastination because I honed them before without deadlines.
I still do those things all the time. These things come easily to me because I enjoy them.
Choose something that has a result you’re happy with.
This is important because of competitiveness in the world.
Is Usain Bolt the highest paid track star because he can run 100 meters in 9.56 seconds?
Not exactly, 9.56 is just a number. He’s paid more than any track runner because he’s faster than every track runner. That’s the point.
When you’re not passionate about your craft, you’re at a significant disadvantage against those who are.
Certain pursuits are worth it for the feeling afterward. People do not work out because it is more fun than playing sports or videogames.
When Athletes look at their progress in the mirror and feel more energetic throughout the day. The challenge becomes worth it.
Doing what fulfills me is the strongest motivation. When I looked back on a long day of physically stressful work; I’m just glad it’s over.
Looking back on content I’ve created/written makes me feel accomplished.
What gives you a sense of pride and accomplishments.
For example: If you take piano lessons. The idea of being a world class pianist or teacher should be a reassuring thought.
Are you doomed to play the piano for the rest of your life? Nope, trying new things helps people grow as a person. On the contrary, if you dread playing piano, any frustration or slip up is going to be even more frustrating because you don’t even like it.
Nobody should be chasing something if the end result is not worthwhile.
Being a doctor is a high paying, high prestige, a rewarding career, saving lives.
External items motivate. Discipline comes from within.
Heck, me deciding not to be a doctor saved more lives than deciding to go down that route. When the passion isn’t there, success is damn near impossible. Knowing me, I’d probably sleep in past appointments, and forgetting about open heart surgeries.
Take it Easy, Especially in the Beginning
According to U.S. News & World Report, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February.
Have you heard the saying “The faster you run, the sooner you’re done?” No? Guessing because I just made it up.
Every New Year, people decide to go to the gym: to lose weight, be healthier, summer body. Which should be encouraged.
What shouldn’t be encouraged are resolutions like, I’m going to the gym every day.
These people are known as sprinters. They get excited about an idea, then they work at it 25 hours a day, 8 days a week, and wonder why they gave up after a month.
The person that says, “I’m going to go to the gym once a week”, always achieves more than the guy that promises to go every day at 5:00 am in the morning.
The former person can only improve from where he is. The only way the latter can go is down.
How do I take it easy?
Start laughably small in your goals. Small dreams lead to big things. 10 minutes a day is 60 hours a year. You could learn a new language, animation skills, become skilled in Microsoft Excel and much more. Just from 10 minutes.
Every 2 weeks increase time practiced by 5 minutes. After reaching 60 minutes a day, I suggest maintaining it for 8 weeks.
Make sure you track the time spent, and time slacked off. If you miss a day, then don’t make up for it by the end of the week go back 10 minutes.
Try being patient. Whatever you did last year hasn’t been working. If you took it easy last year, then next
Do things that you’re naturally drawn towards. Try not to over think it. What do you catch yourself doing when you’re procrastinating? Do you look at cooking recipes? Car reviews? Imagine how fulfilling life would be if you gave yourself permission to dive into these fields of interest? Being productive would almost cease to be an obstacle. Not because they’re easier, but because you’d enjoy and appreciate what you’re learning.
Picking up a book to learn about muscle recovery is boring for me, yet exciting for a friend of mine striving to become a powerlifter.
Society tells us that picking something boring and professional (Accounting, engineering, nursing) is your safest bet.
Completely wrong. Choosing something you dread doing is the most dangerous thing you can do. Waking up in the morning and putting in a good effort at a job you want to avoid is terrible decision making.
Do I really need to Love what I do?
Not necessarily. Every field has obstacles that we don’t like. I present on stage, on the side. I love the writing and performing aspect. The traveling, and dressing up? I’d rather pass.
Technical writing and resume writing are a service I do for others as well. I enjoy the progress made and the positive impact on people’s lives.
Does that mean I love tweaking Microsoft word templates and changing font types? Of course not. I’m talented in that area and appreciate the payoff.
Compared to when I would work twelve hours shifts in a candy factory. Sticky floors. Standing on my feet all day. People yelling at me. All for $1.50 above minimum wage.
Every day I’d come home I felt cheated. Trading my time for a job without skill development, with exhausting shifts.
Eye-opening to me, one of my co-workers enjoyed going to work. He was in his late 40’s and loved the exercise, and straight forward instructions. Contributing to a company made him feel fulfilled.
I could never imagine myself enjoying general labor, overwriting; However, my co-worker felt the exact opposite.
Not feeling cheated from the work you put in, the career path I sustainable at the least.
Don’t be Scared by Statistics
You want to study/practice, but in the back of your head, you think, what’s the use. The chances of this working out are low. Lack of faith makes it much easier to procrastinate. Especially realizing that only a small percentage will achieve the goal you’re chasing.
Statistics can be demoralizing: “Only 2% of NCAA football players make it to the NFL”. – NCAA commission
Sounds like a long shot, right? Be skeptical of statistics because they mislead.
Norwich University conducted a study saying that “5.8 percent of senior NCAA football players make it to the NFL”
If you’re able to make it to the senior year, a chance of making it to the NFL increase by 3 times. After weeding out those that joined the first year, you become much more likely to succeed.
What do you think the percentage of senior NCAA football players that workout 4 times a week, do drills every day, pay close attention to game footage, avoid processed foods and drinks: Make it to the NFL? There’s no study for that; However, I assume much higher than 6%.
Statistics showing the steepest failure rate are the most lucrative (doctor, professional Athlete, business owner).
Remember, failure is your friend. Who wants to make a living at something that anybody can pick up and do, right?
The book that helped teach me this lesson is the dip by Seth Godin.
I was guilty of this. When I wanted to become a freelance writer, I would google “how many freelance writers and/or content creators make a decent living”. I would see numbers like only 5% make a decent living etc. You could imagine how hopeless I felt.
I shared my worries with a coach I looked up to. I was stressed out, my desire for creating written content seemed so far away. It felt like a gamble.
My coach broke down how misleading these statistics are. He asked me how badly do you want to do this as a full-time job?
I told him the truth, this would be the best job I would ever have.
I typed this article in one day. With time left to spare. Over 5000 words. Most people dread writing, yet it gives me joy. I can write all day, especially when I’m getting paid for it😉.
For example, Video editing/animations is a skill that I can’t pursue. My brother got me to try meditating videos. What I spend days editing, he would spend hours. With cleaner results. He watches video effects during spare time, and I read books.
I could author a 3000-word article faster than my brother could author a 1000-word article. 3 times faster! That’s just the power of passion, and years of experience reading, and writing.
We train certain skills without even knowing. My brother still doesn’t believe in his video editing ability because it comes so naturally to him.
If it’s a short message, there wouldn’t be much different.
The longer the essay/video, the larger the gap in time and quality. You can make it in a field that you’re not passionate in. Unless there is high competition, and satisfied with not being a top-tier worker.
Side note ended:
We are reward oriented. No matter how hard you work in the first few days/weeks, results are delayed.
Have you ever listened to an underground/unknown musician; before their big break into stardom?
Then next year you see their music streams increase by 10-100 times what they were previously. Did it mean that their music became 10-100 times better?
Obviously not. The results you see from any work you do, always lag the work that has been put in.
Results come from the work that has been put in over time. Things like your relationship, personal fitness etc. are a makeup of the decisions made over time.
Fight Procrastination with Transferrable Skills
Create a positive feedback loop for yourself. The skills you learn should be helpful to one another. This means that whenever you’re working on one area of your life, you improve the other.
“My plan B’s another way to make my plan A work” – Fabolous(rapper)
Exercise (especially weight lifting) is known as being the strongest feedback loop. Virtually every psychiatrist exercise as a treatment for anxiety and depression.
Do things that help the other thing:
- Learning videography, practice animations
- Studying to become an accountant, work part-time as a bookkeeper.
- Psychology major runs a blog about psychology or becomes a psychology freelance writer.
- Graphic designers can practice their presentation skills to pitch work to clients.
- Side Note: Say at the beginning of the article that side notes aren’t necessary to benefit from the article, but they enhance understanding and meaning
Make hobbies work for you. When I’m taking a break from work, I try to watch as much stand-up comedy as possible.
Watching documentaries is great for learning something productive while having fun simultaneously.
Making hobbies work for me, makes procrastination less of a tool.
Key tips for Procrastinators:
- Break-down larger deadlines into smaller deadlines
- Do activities that are easier/enjoyable
- Say No! as often as possible
- Make Tasks easier to start
- Set deadlines every day.
- Use positive reasons to motivate yourself
- Fail today? go easier the next day. Avoid burnout.
When sticking to the plan goes wrong, read through this guide, and start again. Messing up today, just means that you can try again tomorrow.
Procrastination is a battle against yourself. Be patient and gentle with yourself, messing up is all part of the process in improving your habits.
Any thoughts? meet me in the comments:)