The truth is…everyone is a procrastinator. We all want to put off things we are too afraid to do or don’t want to do. Ending procrastination involves forming the right habits to prevent it from happening. It is all about intention and a willingness to no longer identify with being a procrastinator. As long as you identify as one, you can keep using it as an excuse, as if it is a disease that you can’t cure and thereby must submit to. It is more difficult to rise above and decide you can change the story. After you change your mindset and no longer identify as a procrastinator, there are some tools you can use that will ease the transition into forming new habits.
One of the biggest perpetrators of procrastination are online distractions. If you’re working online, there are several tools that can help you out:
- Stayfocusd can be downloaded for free through Chrome and it allows you to set time limits on certain websites. If you max out the time limit, it will shut down that website/program for the rest of the day.
- Freedom or Go Fucking Work are similar to Stayfocusd, except Freedom will shut the whole internet down for a certain amount of time and Go Fucking Work will block certain sites right away.
- Apps like Escape or RescueTime will track the amount of time that you use certain programs so you can see how you are spending your time.
- Forest for IOS/Android is my favorite productivity app. It is a game that uses the pomodoro technique to help you section off a short chunk of time to work and while you’re working it will plant a tree for you. Then, you take a break. While you work, you can’t use your phone or your tree will die. At the end of the day, you get to see how many trees are planted and it feels like you are being rewarded. I highly recommend it for my fellow gamers.
- One Big Thing is exactly what it sounds like. You type in the one major thing you want to have accomplished that day and it can serve as a reminder.
20 Second Method:
The 20 second method eliminates distractions by making the perpetrators of your laziness physically 20 seconds farther away from you and the things you need to get done 20 seconds closer to you. That makes the productive option feel like the lazy option. For instance, if you are a visual artist and your biggest distraction is that you turn on the TV as soon as you get home, then take the batteries out of the remote and put them in your closet. Then, have some paper and a charcoal pencil on the coffee table. That way, your art material is literally right there, but you have to go into the closet, get the batteries, and put them in the remote if you want to watch TV. This provides incentive for you to draw instead.
5 Minute Rule:
Another thing you can do is start really small with your tasks. Tell your reptilian brain that you are only going to do your task for five minutes. Then, sit down and paint for five minutes. Usually after five minutes, the reptilian brain shuts up and the artist takes over and you end up painting for longer. If not, five minutes is better than nothing at all.
Incentivize With Bad Alternatives:
Basically, you give yourself the option of either working on your art or doing something even less favorable. My go-to is doing nothing. The key is to make your reptilian brain so ridiculously bored that it would prefer to work on art instead of doing nothing. If you’re just sitting there, for example, most people usually opt to make art instead.
For the brain that is just looking for a little dopamine, this works really well. You can break your stuff down into tiny little tasks and reward yourself after each task is finished. For instance, you can practice guitar for fifteen minutes and then watch a show. You can put together one page of a short story and then read a chapter of a book- whatever serves as a positive personal incentive for you- even if this means you spend more time on reward tasks. It is still getting you to focus on your creative projects and will help you access your natural workflow over time.
Make a List:
Sometimes procrastination can be a result of suffering from organizational distress. Take some time to break things down. Make a list and cross things off as you go along- even if you don’t finish the list. Crossing one thing off is better than doing nothing at all.
I know, I know, you hate deadlines. But they work. They keep you accountable and they turn your “someday” into “today.” If you never actually set a precedent for when you will accomplish things, you never will.
These tools are great aids, but the most important thing is a real desire and enthusiasm to triumph over your procrastination tendencies. It is not something any outside source can give you. Just take it one step at a time, breathe, and go do it! If you ever need a little inspiration, don’t neglect to consume some inspiring or motivational content (like this one!)
If you have anything you’d like to add, contribute, or discuss, shoot me an email or leave a comment. Nine Muse is updated every Monday and Friday. Until then, remember to align with your true self and take control of your self-expression, Creators.
Originally published at nine-muse.com on September 25, 2018.