“Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin.” ~ Victor Kiam
Aubergines are supposed good for me. I’m not really a fan, but due to this detox diet I’m on, I’m very limited as to what I can eat.
I hop online real quick to get a couple of recipe ideas for dinner tonight.
An hour later, somehow I’m reading up on the benefits of oil pulling… and I still haven’t found any decent aubergine recipes.
I get up from the laptop to make a drink with the intention of returning to spend an hour or so writing. I return from the kitchen 30 minutes later after washing the dishes.
Procrastination and distraction. I’m not sure one exists without the other.
Do I get distracted because I’m procrastinating or is procrastination a form of distraction?
I’m not entirely sure.
All I know is that they show up together and stop me from making progress in so many areas of my life. And they frustrate the hell out of me!
I think my challenge is that I have so much that I want to do, I try and do everything and my priorities go out of the window.
I’m also an ideas person. I love coming with new concepts but once I get started on one, I quickly lose enthusiasm because I’ve since come up with ten more ideas!
I fear that I’ll run out of time. That I won’t do everything I want to in my lifetime and that terrifies me.
I’m a believer that life is too short and I’m desperate to make the most of every moment. However my tendency to procrastinate and get easily distracted means I often sabotage my efforts to live a fulfilled life.
When it comes to time, I always feel that there’s never enough of it.
The logical part of my brain knows that I have the same 24 hours in a day as every other person on the planet, and that in fact time is a man-made concept. Yet, that doesn’t alleviate my fears.
My fear kills my motivation and hinders my overall progress.
I become overwhelmed, self-critical and then I do nothing.
My feeling that time is running out causes me to start multiple things, to ensure I don’t miss out.
But inevitably I do.
I’m very good at making lists and prioritising and when I focus on one thing at a time and only do what I say I’m going to do, I get things done.
Over the past few months, I’ve been dealing with a skin irritation and some days it is so itchy that no matter how hard I try I can’t help but scratch the life out of it. It results in sore, cracked weeping skin and as I’m scratching I know this, yet I still can not stop myself.
Procrastination works in a similar way. I know when I’m procrastinating and that I need to re-focus and get back to the task at hand, yet I can’t stop myself doing everything else but the task at the top of my “To Do” list.
It’s a horrendous habit and one that I wish I could get rid of.
Although I’m far from kicking the procrastination habit, here are 4 strategies that are helping me to reduce the temptation to procrastinate:
1. Reduce distractions
There are a number of ways I do this.
I’ve installed the Google Chrome plugin WasteNoTime which helps to monitor the time I spend on the internet.
It has a lockdown feature that limits the time I can spend on certain websites — you know the ones – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest – and also for me Feedly. It also stops me being able to use them between certain times.
Additionally, I refrain from opening my email until I have completed the tasks on my To Do list and ensure I close it as soon as I’m done.
Putting my phone on silent also helps because for some reason I just cannot let my phone ring or let a message go unanswered. It’s something I’m working on, but until my willpower is stronger, the silent feature and putting my phone in another room helps.
2. Follow a routine
I fantasise about being this free-spirited yogi type person, working in flow with my feelings. In reality, this doesn’t work.
As my friend always reminds me, feelings are fickle. Besides, yogis are actually extremely disciplined.
When I follow a routine, I get more done and I’m less prone to procrastinating. Once I’ve been following a routine for a while, I no longer have to think about what to do next because it becomes habit.
3. Use a to-do list
As I said earlier, I’m great at making lists. I make lists all the time. In my journal, Evernote, on my phone and in my diary. However, as I’ve found, making lists is not enough.
Lists only work if you actually use them.
Lists work for me but only if they’re written in my diary and I have it in front of me at the beginning of the day before I start my first task. If I begin the day looking at my to-do list, I generally follow it for the entire day and get most, if not everything completed.
I also love Evernote and I use it in combination with my diary. I record all my long term goals for the month and year in Evernote and transfer them to my dairy on a weekly basis. I also use Evernote to store those tasks that randomly come to mind.
As I have a tendency to want to get things done as soon as they come into my head – regardless of their priority and importance – I’ve found that being able to store them for later relieves my anxiety and urgency about getting them done.
4. Get an accountability buddy
A study by Wilhelm Hofmann found that people are less likely to give into temptation when in the presence of others. This can be extended to when you make your intentions and goals visible to others.
I use Evernote to share my goals with my friend who is also on a mission to create a life she loves. This reduces my temptation to procrastinate because I know my friend is “watching” and I feel like a let down if I don’t do what I said I would.
It’s important that your accountability buddy is working towards similar goals, or has a similar drive to get things done and make progress. They should also be someone who’ll be honest with you and give you a good kick in the behind when you’re making excuses and not getting things done.
These 3 strategies are not new ideas I’ve created, they’re tried and tested and more importantly when followed they work.
I have this desire for freedom and I often feel conflicted when I have to follow a routine. I get frustrated when I feel like I lack flexibility in my schedule.
However what I have finally come to realise is that by following a routine, and more specifically these 3 strategies, I create more freedom in my life. I get more done, therefore giving me more time and flexibility.
As with most things in life, a lot of our challenges are simply a result of the way we look at things.
Sharing is Caring
I know I’m not the only procrastination fiend out there. How does procrastination affect your life and what strategies do you use to combat it?