How to stop procrastinating with 2 simple tricks

How to stop procrastinating with 2 simple tricks

“Let me start working on this next week.” Do you hear yourself saying so often? Whenever a task is important but difficult to begin, we tend to postpone the task to the future. The most common symptoms of procrastination are tomorrow, soon, next week, next month, next year, sometime in the future.

Bitmoji Image

In this article, you will learn how to stop procrastinating using 2 easy methods. You can start applying both of these methods right after you read them because they are that simple.

This article is Step 2 – How to stop procrastinating of Phase 2: Gain Momentum with Routine of the 3 phase transformation into super human productivity. You can begin right from step 1 by accessing the index here – 3 Phase Transformation into Living Your Dreams.

To understand the purpose behind the activity I recommend you to read through the article. But, for the busy bees, you can go directly to the exercise.

lazy tiger

When Newton said “Objects in motion stay in motion while objects at rest stay at rest”, little did he know this applies to human beings too.

Do you have a dream goal in mind? Do you see yourself making any progress towards your goal? Chances are, your goal will most likely remain the same way for a long time, if not forever. However, if you set your goals in motion, you will maintain your action towards your goals in motion. This holds true even if the progress is slow.

Therefore, it is crucial to make steady progress toward your goal. When you procrastinate the action towards your goal, you live a life of regret, remorse, and repentance. The question of how to stop procrastinating has bothered millions across the globe.

Why do we procrastinate?

no

The good news is everybody procrastinates. Procrastination is of various types and degrees. Some people procrastinate a little while some procrastinate almost everything.

Even the most successful elite businessman procrastinate in some shape or form.

What makes the difference between the successful and the mediocre is in what is procrastinated. Successful people do not procrastinate their long term goals. The mediocre procrastinate their long term goals on a daily basis.

The successful are well aware of the little tricks of how to stop procrastinating.

So, why in the world do we procrastinate and how can you stop procrastination?  Before we answer that question, you need to understand how the human mind works.

Anthony Robbins speaks about the functioning of a human mind in his book Awaken the Giant Within. He states – everything we do in life is for either one of the two reasons, which are:

Avoiding Pain

avoid pain

Gaining Pleasure

pleasure

You brush your teeth to avoid the pain of tooth decay or the shame of bad breath. The reason you eat lunch is for the pleasure of having food. You drive a car is to avoid the pain of walking. You earn money to avoid the pain of being homeless. You purchase new clothes for the pleasure of being fashionable and so on. In simple words, we can classify anything you do into one of these two reasons.

The reasons and perspectives, however, vary from person to person. For example, you might go to work to avoid the pain of going bankrupt while your friend might go to work for the pleasure of accomplishing his tasks. You might brush your teeth to feel fresh in the morning. However, your friend might do it just so that people do not run away due to bad breath.

What you do to avoid pain, someone else might do it for pleasure and vice versa. What we choose to do depends on a point called the emotional threshold.

The decision of choosing avoiding pain or gaining pleasure

Chugging Beer

When we have to choose between two options, we subconsciously weigh the following and make a decision:

  • pleasure vs pain
  • pain vs bigger pain
  • pleasure vs bigger pleasure

For example, staying back with your friends for a few beers is a pleasure for many. Slowly the clock ticks by and the night turns darker. Now, the pain of facing your wife starts outweighing the pleasure of the beers. It is at that certain point where the pain has outweighed pleasure do we head back home. This point is called the emotional threshold.

People put up with a bad relationship to avoid the pain of the hassles of separation and loose talks. Until the situation has not crossed the emotional threshold yet, people will compromise.

After a certain point, the person no longer wants the pain of the current relationship. It feels like “No, I cannot take it any longer”. That is the point of emotional threshold. At this point, the pain of the current situation seems higher than the pain of the consequences. This is the point where you are forced to take action.

You have now figured the deep reasoning behind the decision making of the human mind. Knowing how emotional threshold works, let us explore the types of procrastination. You will realize how the same concept applies to different types of procrastination.

Types of Procrastination:

Procrastination happens in two categories with each category having varied reasons. The two areas where human beings procrastinate are:

1. Daily tasks

2. Long Term Goals/Fixing a problem

Procrastination of Daily Tasks:

Human beings are wired by default to spend as little energy as possible. From evolution, expending minimal energy is the way to survive. The workouts or the marathons are not a part of evolution. By default, the human mind will prevent you from spending energy. Your brain is continuously objecting to any ideas on how to stop procrastinating.

I object

When choosing between two tasks, none of which you are passionate about, your mind is wired to pick the one which requires less energy by default.

Don’t you prefer browsing on your phone instead of getting off the couch to cook food? Doesn’t your mind tempt you to leave the empty glass of water on the couch instead of taking it to the sink?

Now you know why this happens. It is because the simpler tasks need lesser energy.

By that definition, we should never do the tasks that require more energy, isn’t it?

You are right. However, we have a savior thankfully which prevents you from postponing forever. Tim Urban mentions it on one of the most viewed TED Talks, Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator. The savior is called:

THE PANIC MONSTER

help!

We keep procrastinating as much as we can. Only when there is a consequence of not taking action anymore, do we finally react. It could be getting late to office, scoring badly in exams or losing your job for not meeting the deadlines.

The panic of a consequence kicks in the Panic Monster into action. At that point, you get your ass moving and the task going for the daily or routine tasks.

Let us look at procrastination of long term goals next which is way different.

Procrastination of Long Term Goals/Problem Fixing:

left or right

Most people have a regular job which provides them the income required to keep life going. Only a few people are earning a living doing something they are passionate about. The vast majority, however, have a job which is not really their passion. The reasons why people do not quit a job they hate are deeply rooted in the subconscious mind.

Some people have a dream to achieve and are making progress towards it. They are currently working on a job they are not passionate about. Yet, they do this to make ends meet until they have the money/skills/material to move towards their dream.

Other people either have forgotten their dream or have a dream without any progress. This is due to the following reasons even though there could be a lot of passion towards the goal:

Fear:

fear

The single most important reason. The fear of risks involved, the loss of stability, the reaction of friends/family/society, the worry of not being good enough prevents most people from taking the first step itself. Ask yourself, is any fear preventing you from taking the first step? It most likely is. Leave a comment of what your fear is and I will suggest a possible solution.

Delayed Results:

Back to the grind

The reward from long term goals requires persistence for a while before anything tangible in return shows up. You might be looking for results immediately. You mentally believe that the delayed results are not worth it. Instant gratification wins over long term satisfaction.

Comfort Zone/Complacency: Comfort Zone/Complacency:

relax

All long term goals require patience and effort. Your mind mentally weighs between future rewards vs current comfort. For all decisions, your mind is always choosing between avoiding pain and gaining benefits. Your mind decides your comfort zone right now is a better benefit compared to the return that might come from achieving your goals. It leads you to believe that starting sometime in the near future will not make any difference.

Living with a workaround:

workaround

When there is no major consequence of inaction, we get back to not expending energy. For example, if your pipe is leaking, you can manage the situation by tying a piece of cloth even if little droplets continue to leak. If the leak is major where water is flowing, you have no choice but to contact the plumber.

Until the workaround gets the job done, we stick to retaining energy. Similarly, your current job keeps things afloat. You lean to live with this workaround instead of the actual solution of pursuing your dreams.

When it comes to long term goals, you will never reach the point of emotional threshold. You will never reach a point of breakdown for not reaching your goals.

The Panic Monster will never kick in!

Since you have found a way to earn money by taking up a job you do not enjoy, you will never be forced to take action. It will be like a relationship that you do not enjoy, but also not that terrible making it unbearable. In short, you will make a compromise by inaction.

Things change when you lose your job and you are unable to find a substitute job to make ends meet. Now you are at the threshold point and guess who will be back?

The Panic Monster!

You are forced to seek your goal or a mode of income which you have postponed forever. 

The first step on How to stop procrastination

If you want to learn the trick of how to stop procrastinating, you have to realize that the first change is in your mind.

For a daily task, you can associate the picture of your definition of pleasure to the task you have to work on. For example, if you have to get off the bed to cook, visualizing healthy food or a good looking physique will help.

As for the long term goals, you look at them as one massive goal. The goal in itself might look overwhelming but the first task to get started is pretty easy. It can be as simple as picking up the phone to make a call or searching for information on the internet. Instead, we find checking email, the news feed of Instagram or finding food in the refrigerator the right thing to do at the moment. You even procrastinate tasks that are super easy to complete. It is all because you believe the final goal requires a lot of work and not completing one simple task.

Coming back to the reason behind procrastinating your long terms goals:

“The pain of working towards your goals today seems greater than the pleasure of achieving your goals in the future.”

If you have to enjoy the benefit of the long term things, you have to break through the barrier of short term pain.

struggle procrastinate

To make a million dollars, you need to build your business or start saving now. To get those chiseled abs, you need to hit the gym and maintain a diet. If you haven’t started, it implies you are not willing to break the barrier of short term pain.

For some others, the “possible pain of consequences of failure seems greater than the pain of the compromise of your long term goals”. The funny part is you are not experiencing any pain right now. Your perception leads you to believe that the action will lead to pain or discomfort. Based on your assumption of future pain or pleasure you make the decision.

How to stop procrastinating in two easy Ways

The solution to how to stop procrastinating is far simpler than you think. Here are 2 simple tricks to start using right away.

Get started now technique

If you have a begin a task, you will have a tendency to wait until the next 30 minutes or the hourly mark. For example, if the time is 9:20 AM, the thought in your head will be “let me start at 9:30 AM.”

wait for it

You waste these 10 minutes watching Youtube videos, checking social media or texting in groups. More often than not, this spills beyond 9:30 AM. Next, you aim to start at 9:45 AM which turns into 10 AM and so on.

Do know that when your mind tells you to start 10 or 15 minutes later, it is resisting action by procrastinating. You are not even realizing this dirty trick your mind plays with you.

As a solution, start then and there. There is no right time to begin a task. Therefore, do not wait for the exact hourly or the 30 min mark. You are only fooling yourself if you do.

Two Minute Rule

You already have a goal in mind to achieve. You also know the first few trivial tasks to get started, for example, calling a friend for input or researching competitors. To prevent you from procrastinating you follow the 2 Minute Rule from David Allen’s book “Getting things done”.

The rule states “If a task takes less than 2 minutes to complete, you do it right now.” You are heading for a break and you notice an email that requires a reply, you do it right now. You see your to-do list and notice a task needs a quick call, pick up the phone and call.

In simple words, you never postpone any of the tasks which require less than 2 minutes to complete. Completing the task later takes longer. Add up the time required to remember the task, the information associated and finally doing it. The total will come up to more than 2 minutes.

When you apply this rule to achieve your goals, you are no longer weighing the pain vs pleasure mentally. The rudimentary first step towards your goals has far lesser or no pain involved. Once you do a few of these tasks, the excitement due to your progress is one reason why you keep going. The second reason is that you have already invested some energy and you do not want it to go wasted.

Conclusion

In this article, you understood why we procrastinate and its types. You also learned simple yet powerful tricks towards How to stop procrastinating.

The 2-minute rule has helped millions of people around the world reduce their procrastination to a large extent. The power of this rule lies in its simplicity. The effectiveness of this rule lies in the discipline of the follower. If you have the discipline to follow this on a regular basis, you can be rest assured that you will complete half the things you would have otherwise procrastinated.

Leave a comment on whether you are willing to follow any of these rules and why.

progress phase 2 step 2

This article is Step 2 – How to stop procrastinating of Phase 2: Gain Momentum with Routine of the 3 phase transformation into super human productivity. You can begin right from step 1 by accessing the index here – 3 Phase Transformation into Living Your Dreams.

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