How to Beat Procrastination
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.”— Annie Dillard
Oh I can’t even tell you how many tries it took me to write this.
I was the all-star of avoidance—taking any path that would lead me away from doing the work I needed to do.
Whether that be the video I just had to watch, Netflix, online shopping, Facebook scrolling—you name it, I did it.
Most of the time there was not even a real genuine interest in the things I was spending my valuable time doing, I just simply did it in order to distract myself from the work not getting done.
That day that we spend binging Netflix, that hour we spend scrolling on Facebook, the 48 times we check our phone in a day—this is how we spend our time. This is how we live our lives. This is who we are.
It’s amazing how much effort we can put into anything other than the what we need to do.
So why is buckling down so damn difficult?
Well, I think there are a few parts to this.
Equal parts “logic”, fear, laziness, and bullsh*t.
Welcome to the art of procrastination.
So how do we fix it?
#1 Own Up to Your Bullsh*t
You know what I’m talking about. That “logic” that stands behind all our perfectly curated excuses.
“I’ll start working at 7….Oh it’s 7:01, I’ll start working at 8”
“I’ll start working after I finish this episode”
“I’ll start working after I finish cleaning the apartment, run some errands, eat, power nap…”
We all have this arsenal of bullsh*t that we are ready to pull out to defend our procrastinating habits.
We put off the things that we absolutely have to do and we place in the utmost importance for other remedial tasks that are less important but apparently must be done right now?
This makes perfect sense right?
#2 Stop Excusing and Stop Blaming
It starts with the excuse. The blatant, simple statement that we give ourselves to not take action. Then we begin to find support for that excuse. That support is equal part “logic” and self-doubt. We carefully reason out why we shouldn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t do the action and throw some self-doubt in there for good measure to ensure we won’t pursue whatever it is we’re avoiding.
Then we start to pursue this excuse by crafting a story to tell ourselves that clearly defines the exact reason why we're not doing it and play the story on repeat until we believe it to be the absolute truth.
To finish it off and ensure we never have to part with this absolute truth, we solidify the excuse by forming a habit of continual avoidance.
If all that did not do the trick, we also have the trusted old blame game. The cycle of blaming a person, an event, or a combination of external things that hold no relation to you so therefore, you are not the one responsible.
Isn’t it amazing how much effort we can put in just to avoid something?
#3 Rephrase your statements
Change: I am will clean my room today.
To: I am cleaning my room today.
Change: I am going to write my term paper.
Change: I am writing my term paper.
By simply removing the phrase “going to” which places the task in the future and replacing it with “am” which brings us back to the present, we empower ourselves by stating that we are already in the process of completing the task or action. We already are what we want to be.
#4 Be Present
We use an enormous amount of time dwelling in the past or planning the future. We debate about how we could have done things differently and then obsess over what we will be doing a couple years from now. But how much time is spent in the present?
We dwell in yesterday, we plan on someday, but we really only have today.
We put off what we could be now for what we will do later.
Sound familiar? This is the art of procrastination.
“Will do...going to do…,” are phrases that we use when we want to sound like we are in fact, with the utmost certainty making a plan to do it later, but do we?
It’s a classic procrastinator’s way to justify their current action of doing nothing or something other than what they say they will do.
So how do we change this?
Release your desire to control tomorrow (because you cannot control what does not exist) and stop obsessing over the past (you cannot relive it), allow yourself to just be.
Acknowledge the amount of power you have in the moment to be who you have always wanted to be.
You already are what you think you are.
We have the power at this very moment to create the life that we want, so go on and create.