Quick Guide To Combat Procrastination

In this age of surplus amounts of content consumption and following Ali Abdaal, Matt D’Avella, Thomas Frank, Lavendaire, and other content creators for everyday lifestyle and productivity mantras along with my wisdom, here’s my amalgamation of few common data points collected.

Here are primarily the five reasons people procrastinate. Delve deeper to know which categories you fall under and apply remedies specific to that problem.

1. Lacking Confidence

This is usually the case when one feels they do not have the necessary skills and are overwhelmed with negative thoughts of self-doubt before approaching the task at hand. Whether perfectionism or imposter syndrome is the cause, the negative self-talk will erode your confidence. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Remedy? Recall the last time in your life you were confident. Do not let a limiting belief trigger and change your outlook. Self-reflect and know where you stand with your ability to approach the given task and acknowledge it. Production before Perfection. Set realistic standards.

2. Easily Distracted

The phone keeps buzzing. The emails keep flowing. You don’t want to miss out on being part of an important conversation. You want to feel inclusive. The list of potential distractions keeping you from a tedious or overwhelming task is never-ending. And with the induced WFH culture, the line gets thinner in maintaining personal and professional space.

Remedy? Create an ideal work environment. Use distractions as rewards. Easier said than done? Here’s a more pragmatic approach. Let’s assume your phone is the most harmful distraction you have at hand. Even if you decide to give in, say maybe due to the work binding you, keep a dedicated space where you’d use the phone. Not otherwise. Once you increase the amount of effort subconsciously that would make you act on your distractions, the inclination to gravitate towards it gets normalized. Alternatively, use them as rewards.

3. Feeling Overwhelmed

The complexity of the task or the number of tasks might feel overwhelming due to which you’d further procrastinate until the deadline. The avalanche of prioritized work just lengthens your to-do list, with backlog always persisting giving you no sense of satisfaction for the items you ticked off.

Remedy? Know which task is important and which is not. If need be use Eisenhower Matrix. Break down a project into small tasks. Set Interim deadlines. Start slow but start. If you’re the type who creates to-do lists, instead of listing down all the items, break down each to the most atomic level and dedicate a time period with timestamps to it. The more detailed and shorter your to-do lists at hand are, the better.

4. Creatively Blocked

In any field, having ideas is hard. The problem is, sitting down with your blank slate mind and writing what you can is exactly the work you need to be doing. If you’ve been working a 10 hour day and you can’t think anymore, staring at a page isn’t going to give you great ideas. Allowing yourself the time to think without restrictions can also lead to useful ideas. Just call it what it is, though. Your creative blocks aren’t insurmountable goals that leave you at the mercy of your blank page. If you have a deadline, you’ll probably get past that block in a hurry. You can use those same tactics when you’re not crunched for time as well.

There are strategies you can use to get the juices flowing. Change your location. Set realistic standards. Think of creativity as a mundane, daily act. You don’t need to be holed away at a retreat to have an impulse to write, to paint, or to start your next composition. Don’t be afraid to change things up. Change your pen color, your attitude, your workspace, your inspiration, your lighting, your tone of voice. It’s okay. You’re the boss when you are creating.

5. Dread The Task

There are things you want to do. There are things you need to do. Sometimes these are the same. You experience pain when the prediction is monotony or failure. A dread task is an exceptionally bad case when the prediction is so painful, you can’t even properly contemplate what you need to do. This is bad because starting a task and not completing it raises its future cost. If you fail to execute the task, your brain will predict you’ll fail again. Which makes thinking about the issue emotionally draining. Which increases the odds of failure. A vicious cycle.

Reward yourself for accomplishing the task. Make it stupidly small and do a ten-minute promise to yourself. Pawn yourself, give money to a friend and only take it back if you stick to your ten-minute promise. Talking to others is a forcing function to think. And a more specific, detailed task is easier to accomplish.

You’re not bored. You’re not unmotivated. You’re just terrified of being alone in your own head.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read the guide on maximizing your day.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments if there’s any particular content you follow for productivity and if you think leaning on such resources is rather counterproductive!

Software Developer | MISM-’22 @CarnegieMellon