We are all guilty of procrastinating from time to time. Some more than others…We push our tasks back until the last possible moment. We hope that we end up getting them done but even if we do, it is usually not the best quality of work we can do.
“Procrastination: the action of delaying or postponing something”
A well-known blogger, Tim Urban, has an interesting view on how and why procrastination happens. In his blog, ‘Why Procrastinators Procrastinate’, he explains that procrastinators can’t really help to do anything but to procrastinate. In an analogy and in his terms, procrastinators have a rational-decision maker and an instant gratification monkey (in their mind).
Things are fine as long as the rational decision-maker is guiding your brain as above. The problem arrives when the instant gratification monkey takes control of the helm. Tim talks about the place where the monkey takes you. He calls it the “dark playground.” This place is supposedly fun and is consists of all the fun things and shiny objects your brain gets distracted with. However, when you are in this playground, you are not really having fun because your rational decision-maker is full of anxiety, regret and it feels like it is not deserving of the fun. So basically this dark playground is not even fun; when you procrastinate you are not productive or truly enjoying yourself.
Tim says that procrastinators are actually different from non-procrastinators because of how this instant gratification monkey acts. The more you become aware of your instant gratification monkey, the more you’ll have autonomy of making rational decisions and staying focused on the tasks you have at hand.
So the questions every procrastinator wants answered is, can procrastinators do anything to stop this instant gratification monkey from taking over?
The answer is, yes! You can!
Here are 3 simple steps you can take to convert your procrastination into motivation to execute:
Step 1: Recognize that you are procrastinating
As with any other issue to resolve, the first step is becoming aware that you have an issue and understanding what it is. Examples are, if you are leaving the most important tasks until the last minute before they are due or if you plan on doing an important task ahead of time but are unproductive because you occupy yourself with other things (shiny objects). These are all signs that you are a procrastinator. You’re putting off the tasks that take more energy to get done but can be so much more productive for you if you get them done.
Step 2: Understand the reason behind your procrastination
You have to understand the reason why you choose to procrastinate in each occasion. Is it the task itself or is it you? To be able to overcome procrastination you have to better understand the reasons why you go into this “dark playground.” Is it that you don’t enjoy the task? Or maybe you feel unqualified to do it. Sometimes it’s just about organization and the feeling of being overwhelmed. So why do YOU procrastinate? The answer to that will help you set the points that we talk about in the next paragraph.
Step 3: Set objectives, tactics and rewards that will help you stay on task
Depending on the reasoning behind your procrastination in certain tasks makes some of these tips more or less relevant. So choose the ones that work with you and set them as a habit in your life so that you can stay ahead of the instant gratification monkey.
In conclusion, here are a few examples
- Reward yourself
- Having an accountability buddy
- Keep a to-do list
- Prioritize your to-do list
- Become a master of scheduling
- Set goals
- Focus on one task a time
- Break big tasks into smaller tasks
- Start with something that gives quick results to build momentum