Most people are guilty of wasting a few minutes on Facebook every now and then. Procrastination becomes a problem, however, when it prevents you from achieving your purpose. If you feel like you can’t stop procrastinating, then you need to remember these five things.
1. You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself.
If you ever find yourself putting off an important assignment to watch cute animal videos on your Facebook wall, there is a reason for that. Psychologists believe procrastination could be a misplaced coping mechanism.
Your brain is resisting a task that you choose to label “unpleasant” in favor of a distraction that will provide a temporary mood boost. Procrastinators beat themselves up for being so “lazy” or “stupid,” which creates a demotivating experience.
Ironically, demeaning yourself will only make you procrastinate more. The more you call yourself “lazy” and “stupid,” the more you will become convinced that you are hopeless; and if you truly believe you are hopeless, then you won’t see the point in trying. It is best to be compassionate with yourself, because negativity won’t get you anywhere.
2. You don’t have to do everything at once.
I’d like to share a personal story that illustrates my first point so that you can see what this principle might look like in real life. I made a big rookie mistake when I first started a blog: I bit off more than I could chew.
I kidded myself into thinking I would be able to juggle email marketing, publishing blog posts, writing Kindle books, and managing several social media accounts all at the same time, even though I didn’t have much experience with any of those things.
As time went on, I became frustrated and overwhelmed, because it was too much for me to juggle at one time. As my confidence decreased, procrastination suddenly seemed more appealing. I’m too embarrassed to admit how much time I wasted on pointless activities at that time. I believe my brain was subconsciously resisting the more productive activities that filled me with dread.
The more time I wasted, the more I hated myself, and the harder it became to focus on the work I needed to do. I was convinced that I was a loser who would never amount to anything. I spent so much time buried in a pit of self-loathing that I questioned the point of trying anymore. Can’t you see how all of this negativity would be counterproductive? I should have been more compassionate with myself.
3. You need to find the roots responsible for your procrastination.
I realized I had a problem and walked away from it all to reconsider my priorities. A lot of my frustration stemmed from the fact that these activities didn’t pay off immediately.
So, I decided to spend more time building my freelance writing career, since that offered a more steady cash flow. With the threat of impending bills removed, the marketing activities that I was putting off now seem more fun and enjoyable.
I am intentionally easing back into the process by adding one habit at a time, which is what I should have done in the first place. Since posting an update for my Facebook fans is less intimidating than writing an email or publishing a blog, I decided to start there. I’ll worry about the other marketing stuff after I get that habit to stick. One thing at a time!
4. You need to be patient with yourself.
Please don’t make the mistake I did. A lot of “experts” will tell you that you need to write blogs, email your list, AND have a presence on every social media outlet.
What is the point of bothering with any of these marketing tactics if you aren’t going to be consistent about it?
Why would you try to juggle all of these tactics at once when you’ll learn more effectively if you focus on one at a time?
Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? It applies here. If you break out in a sprint as soon as the race starts, you will burn out before you’re even halfway to the finish line. Wouldn’t that be silly? Your patience will be rewarded.
5. You should stop trusting yourself to be productive.
Your lazy monkey brain is stronger than you think it is. The best of intentions can quickly crumble if you allow instant gratification to interrupt your work flow.
I have to admit I’m a recovering social media addict. Thus, I have installed a browser add-on called Leechblock, which blocks Facebook and Twitter while I write. If you’re a Mac user, Focus can accomplish the same thing.
These websites are built with the intention of keeping you there as long as possible. Your brain receives a dopamine hit every time you see that red notification light up. It’s nice to be able to connect with people so conveniently and who doesn’t want to feel liked and appreciated?
Be ruthless with your time. Ban the websites that tempt you most while you work. Silence your phone and put it in a place where you can’t see it. Out of sight, out of mind. You need to make these pointless time-wasting activities as inconvenient as possible. Instant gratification thrives on ease-of-access. Remove that and your productivity will skyrocket.
Got any helpful hints to add to this list?
A lot of people claim they can’t stop procrastinating, so if you have any suggestions that might solve that problem, please share them. If you happen to be friends with a serial-procrastinator who would be helped by this article, go ahead and give it a share.