Beat Procrastination, the Effective Way
Who and what you are at this moment in time is nothing but the result of your consistent actions. The same is true for what you will become as a person. Being caught up in the destructive habit of procrastinating will only serve to immobilize you and deprive you of a future that might end up being only a dream.
How to beat procrastination has no magic "cure", but requires of you to truly develop yourself and grow in your capacity to take action. Procrastination truly is a strange behaviour, but is definitely there by design as it provides you with the necessary resistance to push against in order to build your inner strength and "emotional muscle."
Beating Procrastination Is a Call to Action
Avoiding the very tasks that will give you the results you are after is not very intelligent. You have to step up and strengthen your resolve. The easiest way to snap yourself into action is by making a decision. Decision is the father of action and all action flows from decisions. The challenge is that we have been using the word decision so loosely that it lost much of its true meaning.
When you make a real decision, a true commitment, you cut off all the possibilities other than that which you are absolutely committed to. Like any other skill you need to get better at making decisions by making more of them and as you develop this ability you will get better at overcoming and beating procrastination until you eventually develop the habit of being decisive.
A truly committed decision will turn your "shoulds" into "musts." In fact, this critical distinction separates procrastinators from action minded and decisive achievers. We all get what we have to have and we only get our "shoulds" when it is convenient. The most common reason why people procrastinate is that they just don't "feel" like doing it. When you don't feel like doing it, it simply means that you associate more pain to taking action than to avoiding it.
As human beings we are to a large extent controlled by our emotions and feelings. You will do almost anything to avoid painful emotions and gain pleasurable emotions. Your beliefs about what will lead to pain or pleasure serves as a reference that will guide you in making decisions. Changing your limiting beliefs is a powerful way to beat procrastination. The only reason why you can't take action is because of your belief(s) about why you can't.
Beliefs are designed as a short cut for your mind to make decisions quickly. Even if you haven't got exact experiences your mind will make it up based on your beliefs. We all have a built in need for certainty and our beliefs give us that sense of certainty. The most potent beliefs of all are the beliefs you have about yourself and your own abilities and capabilities.
If you believe that you are a procrastinator and that you can never follow through and create results, then no matter what technique or strategy you learn or apply, you will never beat procrastination. Your beliefs about yourself create your identity and one of the strongest need within your character is for your actions to be consistent with your identity. Whatever identity you hold will create your reality.
Your beliefs are mostly formed unconsciously by life experiences and the meaning you take from it. You are the master of meaning and the way you communicate your life experiences to yourself will determine what things mean to you. The way you talk and communicate with yourself is a form of hypnosis and most people give themselves a real hard time when they screw up.
They indulge in negative self-talk. That installs disempowering beliefs about their abilities and capabilities. Overcoming procrastination requires of you to take control of your internal communication. What you say to yourself about yourself and your life will eventually determine what actions you take.
Change your mental focus
People who are happy, successful and fulfilled are not lucky or born under the right stars, but are individuals that have learned how to beat procrastination and take action even when they don't feel like it. When you don't feel like doing it you are simply not in a resourceful emotional state. The quickest way to change this is to change your mental focus; change your concentration and that which you are paying attention to.
If you focus on the painful and unpleasant aspects of any task you will eventually start to procrastinate, even if you are incredibly disciplined. Your focus is your experience of life. Learning to control and direct your focus on the pleasurable aspects of taking action will empower you to overcome procrastination. Develop the habit of taking the long view; of focusing on the outcome and not the process and watch yourself move past procrastination.
Five Empowering Procrastination Tips
One of the most destructive effects of procrastination is the fact that it makes you feel out of control. It is like an ‘invisible force’ that keeps you from doing the very things you know you must do. With the increasing demands on our time and attention there seems to be an increase in procrastination as a chronic problem, especially amongst those people that want to succeed the most.
Procrastination usually sets in when you feel overwhelmed by all the ‘have to’s’ in life and instead of making steady progress you take on too much without ever getting any of it done.
Feeling out of control takes away all your power to shape and direct your own life. It’s true that there are many things over which you have no control, but you always have full control over what really happens to you – and what really happens to you is a mental process and independent of the circumstances and events of the outside world.
Being empowered means that you realize that you already have the power and this realization also gives you the ability to take action. Here are five empowering procrastination tips that can help you to reach this realization and become empowered to effectively deal with beating procrastination and inaction.
It’s All Inside:
Procrastination is an internal process and although it might feel like it’s happening to you, you are in actual fact responsible for it. This tip can help to put you back in control almost immediately. Procrastination is not an external force, but an internal response and evaluation. The simple realization that it’s ‘you’ that are doing it to ‘you’, gives you the power to do something about it.
It’s All You:
When procrastination drags you down it’s all too easy to think that ‘it just is’ and that you can’t do anything about it. Although it feels like you have no control, you actually do. In fact, this is why you feel out of control – because you believe that you can’t beat it. There are two very important beliefs you need to develop to help you break free. The first is that you CAN overcome procrastination and the second is that YOU can beat procrastination. No one else can do it for you and because you created it, you can un-create it.
It’s All in Your Head:
The reason why most people remain stuck in patterns of procrastination is because of fear. At the most fundamental level, it simply comes down to fear. What you don’t face controls you. To overcome the fear and beat the procrastination that comes with it, you need to confront and do the very things you don’t want to do. The instant you do, you take charge and it no longer has any control over you. The ironic thing is that fear only exists in your imagination – it’s always something that hasn’t happened yet. Procrastination is not real – it’s only the way you evaluate things in your mind.
It’s All about Conditioning:
Success at anything in life relies on consistency. The best of the best at anything are those who can repeat their greatness consistently. The way you get consistent is through conditioning. Your nervous system operates through conditioning. When you do something over and over again it becomes ‘normal’ and when it’s normal you don’t have to think about it – it becomes automatic.
The challenge is that this principle works both ways. Whether your conditioned responses support you or whether it pulls you down, your nervous system does not make that distinction. If procrastination is your conditioned response you will always feel out of control, simply because that’s what you’ve ‘learned’ to do automatically. You simply need to ‘recondition’ yourself to a new response; to teach yourself to respond in a different way.
It’s All About Awareness:
Procrastination does serve a purpose - and a very important one as such, but only if you are aware of the benefits. We only procrastinate about those things that have value to us. At some level, either directly or indirectly, you believe that taking action will benefit you. If it didn’t it would not bother you, right?
Be grateful for procrastination and use it as a guide to ‘know’ what you need to act upon. Being aware of this fact, and developing an awareness for what you do and fail to do can empower you to be in charge of yourself on a much higher level.
When you are empowered you are in charge, and even if things seem to go wrong on the surface, underneath you know that you have the power to deal with it effectively. Procrastination is dis-empowering and it takes away your ability to take immediate action and deal with any situation, learn how to beat it. Always remember that you are ultimately in charge of you. Tomorrow will be today tomorrow. Don’t delay. Act!
How to Define and Beat Procrastination
How do you define procrastination? For many people procrastination is something that they associate and identify themselves with far too easily. The challenge is that once you identify with a behavior (positive and negative) it becomes part of who you are and your experiences and actions are filtered through this identity.
We can define procrastination as "task aversion" which is the irrational delay of an intended course of action. Translated from the original Latin meaning, procrastination quite literally means ‘in favor of tomorrow’. As human beings we are always pursuing ways of being better off – everything we do, we do with a positive intent.
Although procrastination seems to contradict this fact, it actually illustrates a very important point. What we do, or fail to do, is not purely the result of our conscious choices, but often the result of factors we are not aware of consciously. When you procrastinate, at some level of your unconscious thinking, you believe that taking the action will leave you worse off than actually taking the action.
Remove negative tendencies
To change this negative tendency, you need to do two things. Firstly, you must remove the association and ‘attachments’ that you might have with procrastination. Realize that you are NOT a procrastinator. Although you might procrastinate at times, you cannot afford to limit yourself by defining yourself by your behavior. Secondly, you must redefine and beat procrastination in such a way that it will motivate and empower you instead of limiting you.
The way we define things for ourselves will determine the way we interact with it. If you see procrastination as a chronic problem that you were born with, then it is likely that you will struggle with it all your life. If you define it as a bad habit that you need to deal with at some point in the future, then it will control you. If you see procrastination as something you cannot beat, then you will probably be right.
If you define procrastination as a negative tendency that you choose to put aside, then you will be empowered to take action despite procrastinating. Whether you CAN do something is rarely the result of your ability. It’s almost always a case of motivation. Motivation is nothing but an inner drive that compels you to action, and gaining leverage on yourself is a powerful way to find the necessary motivation.
Procrastination is the Thief of Time
There is a definition of procrastination that can do just that. I choose to define procrastination as the thief of time. When you think about it you will realize just how true it is because procrastination is what keeps you immobilized and stuck in inaction. Time is your most valuable and your most precious asset.
People go to extreme measures to protect their money and their possessions, but do very little to ‘protect’ their time – the one thing that money can never buy. Learning to value your time, is a powerful strategy for overcoming and beating procrastination and getting the most out of your life. When you value something you will look after it and protect it.
Your time is limited. Have you ever wondered how many days you have in your lifetime? At first blush you might guess that it is a hundred thousand or even a million. In fact, if you grow to be 70 years old your entire lifetime will only have 25 550 days. If you are 30 now, then you’ve only got another 260 000 hours left – and a third of this will be spent sleeping.
You have just as much time as Bill Gates, Mother Theresa, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey or any other person on this planet. The only difference is in the way you use your time. Don’t allow procrastination to steal your most precious asset. Beat it.
Change how you define procrastination
Instead, see procrastination as a call to action. It is likely that what you are procrastinating about is something that you ‘must’ do. See, what we don’t do and what we don’t face controls us. But when you face it and you do it, you liberate yourself and it no longer has any control over you.
If you have this sense of urgency and awareness that your time is precious, then you won’t allow the thief of time to hold you down. What you get out of yourself does not rely on your ability. It relies on how much of your resources you can get access to and this is almost exclusively a psychological exercise. By changing how you define procrastination for yourself you can start to change this internal conversation and empower yourself to take action and make things happen, like beating procrastination.