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How To Quit Procrastinating
Why does procrastinating feel so good?
So you might be asking why, if procrastinating is so bad, do people keep doing it? Well, for starters, it makes them feel in control. It might sound lame to say this but some people just love the feeling of not finishing something. It’s sad but true. The act of putting off what they don’t want to do or are uninterested in gives them some sense of power that they themselves seem to lack in other parts of their life.
My biggest regret is never starting on the things I knew I wanted to do but had no time to do. Some of my more fondly remembered procrastinating moments involved:
Reading a book and stopping on an interesting paragraph but not finishing it (I remember doing this and waiting until I got home and thinking, “Man, I wish I could have read the whole damn thing”)
Working out in the morning at 5 AM because it was so early that no one else was awake but me. And being so tired by 6 AM that even if someone woke up they usually didn’t bother me.
Going to the movies alone (and for free) because I didn’t want to go with anyone else.
watching the news in the afternoon, an activity which is really only interesting when you live in Washington DC or New York. You’d be surprised how many people (guys especially) who live somewhere like San Francisco actually watch the news.
These are all fun activities but they don’t lead to growth or accomplishment. They are just band-aids that keep us from working, growing, and accomplishing what we know we should be doing. A big part of this procrastination is feeling like you’re not in control. If you’re procrastinating on something that isn’t related to something that you really love, then this idea of control goes out the window even faster. If you’re not in control of how busy your schedule is, then why should you be in control of what kind of life you want to lead?
The next time you reach for your phone to see if it’s late or wonder whether or not an assignment is done, ask yourself this: would I rather be doing what I’m doing right now than what I could possibly be doing instead?
If the answer is no, then give yourself permission to stop procrastinating. You do deserve better than feeling like a slave to your habits. If the answer is yes, then go ahead and stop reading this article right now because you’re wasting valuable time that you could be using to accomplish something.
Here are 10 tips on how to stop procrastinating:
1. Make a list of what you want to accomplish and check things off as they’re completed. I just got a new smartphone app called “Done” that will do this for me. It’s pretty cool because it lets me see what I’ve accomplished throughout the day, and I can even compare my numbers with other people who use it too!
2. Don’t let yourself say “I’m bored”. I used to be so good at this. I possessed the unique ability to make boring things interesting by saying this. This was a big win for me because it allowed me to put off work and study until I felt like working/studying.
3. Don’t think about how you feel that day. If you’re feeling great, then don’t work out or go for a jog unless you’ve made a commitment to do it. If you’re feeling tired, skip the workout until tomorrow when you feel better. If you have no reason to skip working out, then cancel your plans with friends and go to the gym instead.
4. Learn from your past so that it doesn’t repeat itself in future projects or endeavors. I used to get very frustrated when I felt like I just couldn’t sit down and do my homework. I would try to force myself but it never worked. Finally, I learned that the best way to get stuff done is to take my time and feel like if I don’t finish something it won’t really matter much because at the end of the day no one will know if it’s 100% perfect or not. So if you don’t feel like doing something then you actually should.
5. If you’re not inspired or interested in what you’re currently doing, then do something else entirely new. It’s amazing how often this works. It’s like a breath of fresh air.
6. Stop buying stuff that you don’t need and go out with your friends instead. There are two ways to waste money: 1) buy something that you don’t need and 2) not spending money on experiences that will make you feel good about yourself in the long run (like going out with friends).
7. Recognize when you procrastinate and then let it go. You might be really proud of yourself for taking the time to recognize when you’re procrastinating and telling yourself, “It’s okay, I can do this”. But if you find yourself doing this over and over again, then turn off the light.
8. Don’t keep starting something if that’s what’s stopping you from finishing it. This is almost the opposite of tip 1, where I told you to make a list of things that you want to do and then check them off as they’re completed. The difference here is that once you’ve decided to do something, it can’t be undone. If you’ve made a decision to start a project or finish a task, then stick with it until it’s done rather than going back and forth on your decision.
9. When you do something good, tell yourself that you deserve a reward. If you don’t do this then it will be harder for you to keep going.
10. When you’re feeling down about how much time you’re wasting procrastinating, then stop doing it and think about what else you could have been doing that would have made the day more exciting. Then go out and do that instead.
I once heard from a friend that she couldn’t fit a workout in because she had too many things to do, so she decided to cancel her plans so she could work out instead. I told her that it certainly didn’t seem like she had too much on her plate, and she could probably squeeze in a workout after she went out with friends (and spending money).
She was surprised and didn’t think it would be possible, but she ended up going out and then going to the gym right after dinner. She felt amazing all day long and was even able to find time for a run afterward!
If you’re looking for more ideas on how to stop procrastinating, here’s a great article by Leo Babauta: http://zenhabits.net/procrastination/
I’ve been trying out these tips personally to see if they work. I think maybe I’m not doing everything that I should be doing (what with all the people that I know who are much more productive than me) but I’m getting better at it.
The video at the top of this post is from the Sophie Uliano Youtube Channel.