"Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday." ~Napoleon Hill
"Don’t wait. The time will never be just right". ~Napoleon Hill
Psychology of Procrastination
According to Sigmund Freud, procrastination is related to the pleasure principle. It is also related to instant gratification. People put off tasks that need to be done in order to do something that gratifying in the moment. Putting off a project to a later time is gratifying when replaced by a more enjoyable task.
Procrastination is not always associated with laziness. In a lot of cases, laziness is not even in the reasoning. Most of the time Procrastination is related to something more deep seeded. That something is anxiety. The person does not start a project for fear of either losing out on something they enjoy right now, as mentioned above, known as instant gratification. Another procrastination reason associated with anxiety is the fear of failure or being judged a failure by peers and family.
The fear of failure is based on the failures of the past. This is not logical thinking. The person puts off a project in the future for fear of failure in the future but only because they have failed at something in the past. They are forgetting about all the successes they have had in the past. The fact they are in the present means they are a success of the past. That means they are more than likely to be a success in the future.
Another consideration of psychological efforts playing on procrastination is the idea of self-confidence or self-worth. I believe this is directly related to anxiety but some current research is separating this from anxiety. I think this research is thinking about anxiety in the clinical sense and not in the true meaning of anxiety. Therefore, even though I agree self-confidence and self-worth are reasons for procrastination, I believe these two are related to anxiety and depression.
How Does Procrastination Affect Us?
Anxiety is mentioned above as a reason for procrastination to exist. However, this is a two way road. Anxiety is also created from procrastination. In the short term, the person who is procrastinating is receiving a reward but in the long run the project will need to be complete and by that time, there will be less time to accomplish the task. The feeling of not completing a project is anxiety provoking on its own. The failure to complete a task, could also lead to some depressive symptoms.
The obvious result of how procrastination affects you is that it leaves unfinished projects. Having multiple unfinished projects lying around the house or work will give you bad precedence about starting new projects that may need to be started. People will look at the unfinished projects and start to think negatively about you.
The person that can be the harshest judge for having unfinished projects laying around is you. You will look at all the unfinished projects and feel overwhelmed about starting another project that needs to be done. You will start to have the idea you cannot complete things, so why start. The procrastination of a few projects could have long term effects of you not achieving success and leading the Level 10 Life, which I describe on my website and that guides all my projects.
Another thing that procrastination does is keeps you from enjoying the quality time with your family and friends. When you have a project that needs to be started or worked on that is behind, will not allow you to enjoy the moment with your loved ones. If you are on scheduled and not procrastinating, you can enjoy the time with the important people in your life by knowing you are getting done what needs to be done.
10 Tips for Stopping Procrastination
1. Have a detailed written plan of what needs to be completed. Break the larger goal or task into smaller tasks that can be completed in 15-30 minutes. There are times when the smaller tasks will take longer than 15-30 minutes. When this is the case, still work no more than 30 minutes at a time. Stop. Take a break for 5 minutes and go right back to the smaller task. Get rid of those tasks that are not important and not needing to be completed immediately. These are the bad things that will keep you from focusing on the things that need to be done. Delegate these activities to someone else or just “procrastinate” these things that do not need done right now.
- Stop perfectionist thinking. Stop thinking you have to be perfect while doing the project. Even important things that need to be done will not have to be perfect to be good enough. I think you should strive to do the best you can but realize things can be improved on at a later time. You are not perfect and nothing you do will ever be perfect. If you have this type of thinking, you are setting yourself up for failure. Even the great inventors, writers, sports figures, and entrepreneurs were not perfect. You are not any better than them so why set yourself up for failure by thinking you have to be.
- Start using the calendar as your guide. The calendar can be on your smart phone, PDA, computer, or even the old fashion, daily planner. Write down what needs to be done. Go back to tip number one and write down those small task that need to be done. Assign a time and date to work on the project. I put reminder alerts in my IPhone to trigger my memory throughout the day. Give yourself a little bit more time that what you assume it will take. If a task will take 15 minutes, give yourself 30 to get it done. This allows for interruption and visits from Murphy when you are doing it. When you get the task completed earlier, you can enjoy the benefits of completing the task and get yourself a cup of coffee or something as a reward. The brain likes rewards and being successful when completing a task is the best. Completing a task is motivation to complete other task.
- Tell others about what you need to do. These people can help hold you accountable for the projects. A word of caution is find someone who will help push you to get it done. Stay away from those people who will nag and complain about you until you get it done. This may work but it sucks the life out of you. An accountability coach, Life coach, or trusted friend is great ways to keep people who will help you achieve success on the project.
- Listen to motivation CDs or podcast. I spend a lot of time commuting and really enjoy listening to podcast that are motivating for me. I use their advice to build up my motivation to complete a task. Some of the favorites in my ITunes account are The Morning Coach, The Daily Boost, Making Mountains Move, Propel Day, 48 Days LLC with Dan Miller; Everyday is Saturday with Sam Crowley, Kris Gilbertson Inspiration, The Smart Passive Income podcast with Pat Flynn, and Internet Business Mastery with Sterling and Jay. I have gained so much information and motivation from these people that I could never repay them.
- Plan at night for the next day. Make it a habit right before you go to bed at night to think about what you need to do. Write it down or put it in the smart phone following tip #3. Your brain still works when you are asleep and thinking about something before going to sleep will allow your brain to work on the best possible solution even while you sleep. A word of caution here too. Do not worry about the things that need to get done or your brain will worry about it all night and you will not get the restorative sleep you need to perform the next day at the optimal Level 10 way.
- Start the Morning off right. After hygiene, breakfast and doing the morning chores. Take a little time to sit down and think again about what needs to be done to achieve your goals today. What tasks needs to be completed. This should only take about 5 minutes and will be the best planning time during the day. I do this after I get sat down to start working at my desk. This is called state-trait planning. I put myself in the position that I will be working at that day and think about what I need to accomplish. I have the reminders in my Iphone and will look at it at this time. As stated above, I also have reminder alerts to trigger my memory during the day.
- Be consistent when working on the plan and/or execution of the plan. Set a specific time and timeframe you will be working on the overall project. You will follow tip #1 and break it down into smaller tasks, but work on it at the same time for the same amount of time each day, until completion of the project. Your brain is easily trained to follow a regime. Think about eating lunch. When you eat lunch everyday at 11:30 am, your body will start to get hungry around that same time (as a side note, you should never eat at the same time everyday, doing so could slow down your metabolism). Your mind will give your its own internal triggers when you should be working on something. I have my alarm clock set for 5:30 am on the weekdays. My alarm very rarely goes off. My internal clock wakes me up a few minutes before everyday.
- Ask for help. Do not be afraid to admit you cannot do something by yourself. Every great leader of the world delegates others to carry out projects. Learn to delegate, just remember you can delegate authority, but you cannot delegate responsibility. Help them help you.
- The most important thing you can do to stop procrastination is to START. Do something right now to accomplish a small task that will lead to getting the project completed. Do not just sit here and read, stand up, get motivated and do something.
If you are still reading this, you need to STOP. Go lead that Level 10 life. Make today and everyday a great day.
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