Updated: Jan 13
At some point in life almost all of us want to know that how to stop procrastinating so as to give our best efforts towards a particular task or a dream. Procrastination is the biggest challenge that anyone faces while working towards achieving goals. We tend to delay or postpone some tasks despite knowing that it will have negative consequences.
Procrastination is not an instant reaction; it is a result of several factors such as our thought pattern, self identity, work habits etc. In this article you’ll discover a new version of you as you’ll be getting most effective tools and techniques to stop procrastinating. As you read further, you’ll know more about:
Why do we procrastinate
Preparation to stop procrastinating
6 steps to immediately stop procrastination
Delaying tasks is a habit that can be changed. I strongly believe that one must work upon the root cause of any habit to eliminate it forever. See the habit of procrastinating as an unwanted cactus plant. Even if a single root remains under the ground, there is always a chance that the plant would grow again. Therefore, if you want to stop growing cactus you must eradicate its roots completely from the soil and in future you must make sure that you’re not putting any unwanted seeds in the soil again.
To eliminate the roots of procrastination, let us understand its root causes.
Why do we procrastinate
Self identity – Since childhood the memories of different experiences get stored in our mind. There would be times when you were supposed to do a particular task, but you decided to do that later. When you did the same thing for 5 to 6 times, your mind created a self image about yourself that ‘you put things on later’. Gradually this identity becomes hardwired in the mind and we tend to repeat it again and again.
In order to stop procrastinating, you must first eliminate this old identity completely from your mind. You’ll read further in this article about the ways to change this self identity of being a procrastinator.
Other people’s perspective – When we tend to delay things, people around us observe it and they tell us often that we are procrastinator. They label us as lethargic, unorganized, unpunctual and procrastinator. When we often hear such things from people around us, a part of our mind even re-assures that we match up to this identity. We don’t do this knowingly, it happens on a subconscious level as subconscious mind doesn’t have the ability to recognize good behavior and bad behavior. It works in a way to create same pattern of doing things repeatedly. So if it is told several times that you’re lazy, it would accept it to be true and would moreover act the same way to make sure that it is lazy.
To avoid procrastination, you must learn the way to feed mind with the information that assures that you’re not a procrastinator, but you’re a go-getter.
Mind associates pain with the execution process – When we are supposed to do something, our mind creates an entire picture of the task to be done. If the task is new, it becomes difficult for the mind to accept it that it could be done easily. The mind associates pain with the execution of this task. This painful story created by the mind stops us from taking action immediately and we tend to delay it.
You must associate more pleasure and excitement with the execution process to stop procrastination.
Pleasant picture of alternative task – Mostly when we delay a particular task, we find an easy and comfortable alternative to it. For instance, you’re supposed to start a project assigned to you but as you are about to start it, your mind would tell you that you’re hungry or sleepy. Eating food and taking a sound sleep is undoubtedly more pleasant and comforting as against working hard for a project.
Among the two options, mind chooses this pleasant one and puts the important task to be done later. To stop procrastinating, these distractions should be tackled wittily. You must train your brain to prioritize the tasks that are in your favor in the long run.
If you are quite serious about getting rid of procrastination and become a go getter, you can’t do it instantly and continue for long. To become a go-getter forever, you must pull out all the roots of procrastination and must sow the new seeds of being a go-getter. You’ll have to do some preparations so that when a situation arises, you automatically start executing and stop procrastinating.
Preparation to stop procrastinating
Change Self identity – Your mind has several instances recorded inside it as a proof that you are a procrastinator. Now if you simply tell it that I am not a procrastinator, it might enact that it agrees, but deep inside it still believes that you are a procrastinator. You can’t become a go-getter unless you create a new firm belief that you are a go-getter.
Technique - To instill this new self identity in mind, you need to prove this to your mind with several instances. You must decide to do at least 1 thing daily and you must act upon it as and when decided. For eg., decide any one task today to be done at a specific time. The task should be very simple to do and it should be exciting for you. Preferably it should be something that takes very less time in execution. Now start taking action for this task exactly at the time decided.
Do this activity for 7 days to instill firm belief deep inside your mind that you’re action taker, and not a procrastinator. Gradually you will see a major shift in your habit of execution that will make you avoid procrastination.
Affirm daily – As you have read above that other people’s words and behavior also impact our own behavior. We can’t tell everyone all the time to stop labeling us with unwanted titles such as unpunctual, lazy etc. And if you try to do so, you would land into a vicious circle of anger and frustration that would make the life even worse.
Simply create a protection shield around you so that even when others label you with unwanted titles, it doesn’t enter deep inside your mind. To do so, there is a simple yet powerful way to feed your mind miraculously with positive self image.
Technique – If you wish to be unaffected by what others say about you, affirm yourself thrice a day on daily basis with sentences that assure a positive and powerful self image. Write on a piece of paper these 3 sentences and read each sentence three times daily. Read them aloud and visualize and feel these as you read.
· I am a go getter. I enjoy doing things on pre-decided time and I do so.
· I have a laser like focus on whatever I do. I put all my intention and efforts on a single task at a time.
· I am excited about all the tasks that I am supposed to do today. I am enjoying to see and to experience a new version of my self – a Go-getter.
Initially it might be difficult for your mind to accept these sentences. So the mind would remind you of the past experiences that prove that you are a procrastinator and these sentences don’t match to your original behavior. You must ignore those things and simply focus on what you’re reading and feel that intensely. Gradually you will stop procrastinating as your mind will accept this as your new identity. When others would say contrasting thing about you, mind wouldn’t believe that to be true.
Associate pleasure with the execution process – When you are supposed to perform a certain task, your mind will subconsciously make some predictions. It would try to figure out that how much time that task would take, how much efforts and energy it would consume, how much dedication it would require etc. If the answers to these questions make the mind feel burdened, it would try to find out the excuses to not to perform the task instantly and delaying it.
Technique – To avoid this situation you must associate excitement and joy with the task. You must tell yourself that it would be an interesting task, that would give you joy while execution. It would be exciting because of the rewards it would bring. Think of all the positive consequences that this task would bring along. Think of the appreciation it would bring from others, or money or beautiful relationships or good health that would come along. Feel the excitement in your body and think of strong reasons for which you must take this action. And in this state of excitement, start taking the action to keep the momentum on.
Ignore any other possibility – when you would be required to do something, there would be several distractions around you. Your gadget might give you some notifications to look at, your stomach might crave for some food or your eyes and body might ask for some sleep. If you get attracted towards the distraction even for a single time, your mind would see you as a person with no self discipline. It would moreover make you the same unless you prove it that you are highly self disciplined. To avoid such situation, you must prepare yourself well before the time.
Technique – When there is still some time to start the task, imagine you doing it with full immersion, high excitement and joy. Know that hunger, sleep or any other distraction is an old behavior that would be extremely hazardous for your progress. If your mind tells you negative consequences of performing the task, you must know that it is mind’s way to make excuses to delay the things. You must know that you are now stopping to procrastinate. You must take necessary actions as and when required.
6 steps to immediately stop procrastination
Once you have done all your preparation and you have trained your mind to take necessary actions on time, it would be easier to stop procrastinating for long duration. Whenever you are supposed to take a specific action, follow below mentioned steps and you would become a go-getter.
1. Remind yourself that you are a go-getter – When the task is to be done, your mind would try to remind you that you are not the one who works instantly. It would give you several reasons to delay the task. In this situation, please know that a part of mind is still assuming that you haven’t changed. But the fact is that you are now a go-getter, a new version of yourself.
See the tasks you have been doing daily for last few days in just one go. You have been doing things on time, as and when required. You can’t put a break in this habit of being a go-getter. A single step towards delaying the task would make all efforts worthless. A single move towards procrastination would be enough to again sow the seed of unwanted cactus. You have sown new seeds of being a go-getter, now it is the time to nurture this seed. Do what is required to do, avoid procrastination and take action immediately.
2. Generate momentum – Ant thing that gets started gets the momentum to be continued. It just takes 2 minutes to start any task. Once you start it, it becomes easier to continue. Therefore, remind yourself that starting the task would just take 2 minutes. Don’t focus on how long it will take to accomplish it. This might associate pain to the execution process.
Just think of it as a two minute activity to start the thing, and instantly get going. This would make it easy to initiate the execution and it would help in avoiding procrastination.
3. Active body gestures – Your mind and body are inter-related in a miraculous way. When mind is tired, body feels tired too and when body is tired, mind too feels the same. But you can use this co relation for your advantage to become a go-getter.
When you have to perform a task shift the body gestures to that of an active person. If you’re sitting, you should sit straight or stand up. Feel activeness in entire body and on your face. Act like an active person and immediately start taking the action. This would give the signal to your mind that you are active and you are in a state of taking action. Mind would not try to distract you and it would make it easier for you to take immediate action.
4. Remain focused – Once you have started performing a task, there would be a time when your mind would tell you that it is enough for now. It would remind you that you can not work for long on a particular thing. But remember, your mind is still doing this as it knows your old behavior.
As a new version of yourself, you are a go-getter and you don’t leave things incomplete. Stretch your limits, work with focus, and don’t let the distraction come your way. Enjoy the process of execution, feel excited about doing it. Visualize the results you would get by completing this task. You must remember hard that even a single act of procrastination would put it all in vein. A single seed of procrastination would be enough to spread the roots again and have an entire plant. Don’t distract unless you accomplish what you had decided to do in a specific period of time.
5. Reward yourself and feel proud – Your mind needs several proofs that taking actions would be far better than delaying it. Whenever you take action and accomplish something, try to appreciate yourself. Give yourself a coffee treat or a mini nap. Whatever you want to do, do it, celebrate the accomplishment to fill more energy in doing the decided tasks.
Next time when you would be required to stop procrastinating, this would give you the reason to act. Because your mind would know that taking the action has great rewards associated with it. You must feel proud of yourself for taking the action when it was required. This is a key habit of all successful people that they take small actions every single day and gradually get closer to the destination.
6. Visualize yourself as a go-getter – Now your mind has enough evidences that you have stopped procrastinating. Once a day visualize yourself as a, action taker. See yourself doing the essential things with no delay. See yourself as an organized and a punctual person. Talk to yourself about the accomplishments made so far. This would fill your mind with a strong belief that you are a go-getter and mind will stop giving excuses for delaying tasks.
Rather it would start giving you reasons to work on time and this would be a great shift in your personality. This is a gradual process; it might take three to four weeks to fill your mind with strong belief that you are a go-getter. But once you do it all, your life would be better and success would be on your way.
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