This is a guest post by Melisa Marzett.
Procrastination is becoming more widespread, and modern technology is to blame. Postponement of affairs for later is associated with the impulsiveness and distraction of a person, and the information flow in which we live creates more and more temptations to procrastinate.
However, we will not blame only the external environment. Procrastination researcher Dr. Pierce Steele in his 2007 work showed two other reasons for the possible occurrence of procrastination: dissatisfaction with the task, that is, low motivation and fear-based insecurity that you will manage.
Jane Burka, another prominent specialist in procrastination, names the three main fears associated with it.
- Fear of failure – if you haven’t done this, then anyone can blame you.
- Fear of success – if you are into something, be in something more.
- The fear of being in control – not doing any work, you say: “Nothing can make me do it.”
The fight against procrastination includes three tricks: develop confidence, make fire, and rewrite the past. Use these techniques to identify what you are afraid of, stay in your area of attention, and permanently overcome procrastination.
There are two main ways to become more confident: 1) to ensure success by doing something that will increase your chances of achieving the desired; 2) to convince yourself that success depends on efforts, and to praise yourself regardless of whether you have achieved the goal or not.
1. Ensure success
What happens when you play ball with a child? You stand at such a distance that the baby can catch the ball. Become the same trainer for yourself. As Norman Peale said: “Nothing seems difficult if you break it into pieces.”
Divide your work into parts. Sketch a simple plan. Include breaks and rewards after each step in the plan. If you are at a dead-end, break this step into two. Do not criticize yourself, but only cheer up.
2. Convince yourself
Write down one or more personal attitudes and always carry with you a clear plan. Appreciate the effort. “I’m proud to have had this experience.” Stop trying to be perfect. “I, like any person, am imperfect and I like myself that way.” Remind yourself that you can deal with discomfort for the sake of the goal: “I can.” “It’s hard, but I’m stronger.”
Remember your past successes. “I completed that project long before the deadline. It was so nice! ” Introduce yourself in the future. “When I do everything, I’ll go for a walk in the forest. I will be calm, happy, and free! ”
Remind yourself that you deserve respect anyway. “Even if I didn’t succeed, I didn’t become dumber and I am proud that I tried.”
Kindle the fire
If procrastination occurs regardless of whether you are hyperactive or apathetic, you need to master reliable ways to calm down and cheer up at the right time. This will help you tricks to change the state. Let’s learn to sit and work hard when you most want to jump and run.
Assign a job
The first step is to treat the matter as something personal. Your boss, teacher or partner is interested in the work being done, but the main thing is to understand: why are you doing it?
Maybe you feel like “making money,” “achieving good results,” “being proud of what you do,” “pleasing the customer,” “closing the deal.” If there is not enough stimulation, repeat the selected reason over again. Make it your motivational mantra.
Dose of fear
You can strategically use fear to release nor-epinephrine to get down to business. Ask yourself: “What does my procrastination cost me?” Make yourself to name the price of constant delay.
It is essential to understand and acknowledge what it costs you, but not to focus on this point very much. Too high a level of nor-epinephrine will lead to undesirable consequences, and you will find yourself in a state of “fight or run away.” Think of it like firewood: a little firewood keeps the fire, a lot – take it out of control.
Rewrite the past
The emotional memory of a person is very strong. The patterns that we learned in childhood and the formative years are repeated throughout life until we identify them and change them.
Students often feel helpless before assignments and deadlines. They lack the strength and maturity to adequately withstand the situation. Sometimes the only way to say “you can’t force me” or “I don’t want to do this” is to put it off until the last. Such passive-aggressive behavior annoys and angers parents, teachers, and every one whom children resist.
In this way, the child achieves the desired. “He plays on my nerves,” my parents say, but the child perceives this only as restoring the balance of power. Even if they punish him, the child will still feel satisfied, because his protest was noticed. So the pattern of behavior is fixed.
If you put things off for life, look at where the roots of this behavior come from. Did procrastination give you confidence in your childhood? An internal observer can help you figure this out. Do not forget: it is difficult to see the picture, being inside the frame.
Corrective emotional experience
How to change the pattern of behavior if it has become familiar? Psychologists use a method called “corrective emotional experience.” You return to the initial situation in your mind, remember your feelings, but change the scenario – think, feel, and behave differently.
Rewriting the past does not mean blaming. It is impossible to rewrite the past if you only let off steam. Do not live the past time after time, thereby strengthening neural connections. You are rewriting the past to create new connections in the brain and form new healthy habits. If you can’t let go of the old grievances, you may need to seek help from a specialist.
Brain studies have shown that mental training works. Surprisingly, when athletes and musicians mentally present their actions, the brain that controls their movements behaves in the same way as if they did all this in reality. Corrective mental training is a common practice of high-class athletes and musicians, which may be useful.
Do not blame yourself
It might actually have a beneficial effect and give some time for recharging. Recreation is very important for productive work, but if you feel ashamed for resting, it will ruin all your chances to freshen up and cheer up. Accept the state in which you are to make its effect the strongest. If you have already relaxed, then rest.
It may also be an unexpected way to further think about a project. Often, when I put off work on a commercial proposal, I come across some new information that helps change the approach and achieve a deal. The same applies to articles.
Set the real deadline
Some experts advise setting your deadline to encourage for acting. But the trouble will be if setting the deadline artificially, it is quite easy to afford to extend the deadlines. In the struggle of delay with action, an deranged deadline always fails.
Conversely, if the customer is waiting for the delivery of work, no way to complete them. You will sit at night but complete the task. And only a few super-disciplined people will be able to sit at night to fulfill their own, “fake” deadline.
If you feel like the land to burn under your feet, contact a customer, co-worker or responsible friend, want to talk a little over the project. And promise to send him before the conversation ready information on this abstract.
Change the scenery
Nothing switches your spirit faster than when you make yourself to perform professionally. There is nothing easier than taking time when you are sitting at home wearing your favorite pajamas with a laptop, but when you have an appointment, a meeting for coffee or a public speech – here you can already find a motivation to become a superstar. And when you return from the meeting, you will already go into business mode and, hopefully, find inspiration for work.
Look at the project from a different perspective
Break projects into sets of “next steps”. I deduced this advice from the book of David Allen. Instead of specifying “sales” in the to-do list, divide the tasks into simpler and more realistic steps. For instance:
- Find buyers.
- Make a list of potential clients. And set the task as concretely as possible: find “vice presidents for the development of the business of investment banks”, “organizers of industry conferences” or “dentists within a radius of 100 km”.
- Find out if there are any solutions.
- Contact your friends to introduce you.
- Continue communication, etc.
Make a special to-do list in case you are too lazy to work
You should have a list of activities that you can easily do when you are not in the mood for more essential issues. These are interesting or not requiring much effort cases that will allow you still not to waste time and do something productive. For instance, to read industry magazines, tidy up folders on your PC, rearrange them, examine your contact lists.
Switch the habit
What habit are you engaged in during periods of delay? Is it watching TV-series? Or your cellphone? Are you surfing through the Internet? Are you playing squeaker toys with your dog?
But if you are aware of your inclinations and change attitude to delay, it can positively affect your productivity. For example, if you usually turn on the TV, read a book on business instead. If you usually spend time online and social networks, set yourself a timer so that it reminds you after a while – it’s time to end.
It depends only on you whether you will achieve a result or not. If you planned on doing something and it is really important for your business, do it then. Sometimes a simple effort is enough to open a document and make yourself to write the first paragraph. Do not let yourself be distracted at this moment, and when you begin, there is every chance that you will be able to continue the business.
Sometimes getting distracted does not hurt. It is essential to understand the difference between these cases, to understand that productivity can fluctuate, and to appreciate the moments when you let yourself forget the heavy burden that the business has on you.