5 Indisputable Strategies to Avoid Procrastination and Getting Things Done
Human beings are lazy creatures. Our brains are designed to thrive on finding the most effortless approach to a problem. Most of us refuse to take our butt off the couch, until we have the absolute necessity to do so. While finding lazy solutions to a difficult problem might save effort at times, but in majority of the cases, this habit works against us.
No matter how productive you think you are, you must agree that fiddling with things, such as checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums seems to be a much attractive option than completing the task at hand. However, when it’s too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier. I have seen people spend years looped in this cycle. They put off things until the time it’s unavoidable, only to be caught up in this trap all over again.
I have been a procrastinator for majority of my life, and I have paid my price by losing out on amazing opportunities life has thrown at me. From the past few years, I have worked hard to get rid of the lazy voices coming from my head by doing a thorough research on the strategies that can actually work to keep procrastination at bay. In this article, I have tried to highlight some of the best methods that have helped me big time to fight my laziness monster and get things done on / before time.
1) Apply the ‘2-minute rule’: Recently, I came across the concept of applying the ‘2-minute rule’ for building new habits. This rule states, ‘When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.” What it means is that any habit can be scaled down into a two-minute version.
• Read more books can be started off as Reading one page
• Meditate everyday can be started off as Taking out the yoga mat
• Study for test can be started off as Opening the notes
• Run three miles can be started off as Wearing the running pants
The idea is to make your habits as easy as possible to start. Once you take that first step, it is much easier to continue doing it. You might think it’s weird to be excited about reading one page or sending one email pitch at a time. But that’s not the point. The point is to show up as much as possible. Essentially, a habit must be established before it can be improved and mastered. Instead of trying to be a perfectionist from the start, do the easier thing first and try to be as consistent as possible.
2) Make the Rewards of Taking Action More Immediate: You might be aware of the ‘reward or pleasure centre’ in our brains, which is responsible for secretion of dopamine if we encounter any object, event or activity which is motivating, causes us to learn or elicits pleasurable feelings. So, if you are able to find a way to associate a reward with a particular habit, it becomes easier to avoid procrastination. This concept is also termed as ‘Temptation bundling’. Simply put, the strategy suggests that you associate a behavior that is good for you in the long-run with a pleasurable activity.
Here are a few common examples of temptation bundling:
• Only listen to your favorite music while exercising.
• Only watch your favorite show while ironing or doing household chores.
• Only eat at your favorite restaurant after finishing your project.
• Only get a foot massage while making important work calls.
3) Tell Others About Your Goals: Being more vocal about your future goals and aspirations can actually help you motivate towards achieving them. Tell your partner, friends, colleagues and family members about your future projects. Be specific about what you intend to do in the next couple of weeks. Now whenever you see them, they are very likely to enquire about the status of those projects. This strategy is likely to provide continuous reminders to the procrastinator in you and get you started on your projects (even if just for the sake of saving face in front of your acquaintances). It’s a great way to keep you accountable to your goals and future plans.
4) Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action: Let’s say you get to spend a day with people like Bill Gates or Tony Robbins. Wouldn’t you be highly inspired to act on your dreams? The company we choose influences our behaviors more than we know. Of course, you wouldn’t be able to spend time with the giants of the world (well, not every day), however, there are always those people around you who inspire you more than others. Identify the people in your life, who fall in the category of ‘the go-getters’ or ‘hard workers’, and try to spend as much time as possible with them. You will slowly realize that you have inculcated their drive and spirit in yourself.
5) Get a Buddy: This strategy is an amalgamation of strategies 3) and 4). Have a companion who has his / her own set of goals and inspires you to take action. This will also make you accountable to each other, and make the whole process much more fun for both of you. While it’s not necessary for you to have the same goals as your buddy, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other. I have a good friend with whom I discuss my plans regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it motivates us to keep taking action.