Earlier this year I moved to a new city. It has been both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time and like many others in their early 20s the whole adventure has been a big step for me. Throughout all this one thought strangely enough has kept in my head and it might seem really random, but I can’t stop dreaming and thinking of my boxes arriving. I like to view myself as a not overly materialistic person. I don’t covet the newest phones, and while I admire them I am quite happy to have my phone until it has pretty much broken and then I’ll start looking for a new one. But this strange attachment I have to my boxes that have come from overseas to this new city has overtaken my every thought. I feel almost ‘un-whole’ if this makes sense, like I can’t fully settle until this box of “stuff” has arrived. And what is inside it that makes me so anxious? Will I feel differently once its arrived? Or is it merely a thought my mind has created for anti-productivity. An excuse to hold off everything else until the box comes and then when it does I’ll have a new thought that will distract me from what I really need to do?
As I write on I realize how ludicrous all this sounds. They’re just boxes. But then I recall that this situation has happened so many times it just looked differently. I recall last year observing my friend, who pretty much did everything in her power (unconsciously of course) to distract her from writing her thesis. She had decided that she wouldn’t be able to write another page until she cleaned her room, three weeks later her room still uncleaned she had also decided she could not possibly write another page of her thesis when she didn’t own a pair of fluffy shoes which supposedly made writing easier. And then it dawned on me. OMG this is what procrastination looks like. How stupid can I be? It is so obvious! But we come up with all these excuses to do things to keep us busy without just looking at ourselves and saying, ‘OK, I am procrastinating’. Thus all this crazy, trivial thinking has lead me to writing this article. I shall tackle this so called phenomenon that is procrastination, which is something we all face at some point of our lives, and a current issue for those in their 20s.
So what is the solution to procrastination?
Here are 8 ideas & tips that I have found from my research, online, from books, from friends and from family:
1. Try to understand why you are procrastinating
Are afraid of what the result of your work will be? Are you holding off because you think at the end of it you’ll have nothing to do then? Does the idea of actually what you have/need to do overwhelm you thus you keep putting it off?
2. Break down the task you need to do so it’s step by step.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with a hundred things to do all at once. This idea came from my dad when I felt really overwhelmed earlier with full time work and projects going on that I was working 12 hour days. Just take it easy, every problem or task can be broken down into smaller steps and then scheduled over time to complete. When you look at bigger tasks like how they sent the man to the moon, they didn’t go ‘oh shit we have so many things to do to send this guy to the moon’, they broke it down to the smallest task and then built up over time to finish the whole project right? I found that sometimes I put too many task on ourselves all at once to compensate for the feeling of not achieving. But by doing this, I’m only setting up yourself by having too many things on your plate. If you break things up to smaller tasks, you’re not adding tasks, you merely breaking a bigger task and not adding other unnecessary tasks.
3. “Later” is the favorite word of procrastinators, and it isn’t because they’re lazy. Most procrastinators are also perfectionists.
An amazing writer named Stark wrote this. She says in continuation of the previous statement made, that this is a neat trick because it means that most things don’t get started (procrastination) and most things don’t get finished (perfectionism). Like my dad’s advice, Sark coins a term called “micro-MOVE-ments”, wherein you break down a task to what you can do now. No good focusing on what you think you can’t do. For example, the task it to knit a scarf for your sister’s bday. For some reason you’ve been putting off. Well you can come up with some microMOVEments like, 1. research online for patterns, 2. cut out pictures of scarfs you like out of magazines, etc. you can break it down into smaller tasks that can be fulfilling and help you capture that spark to finish your project/task.
4. Stop thinking and start doing!
From time to time it’s normal for us to take the easier way out and think to ourselves, just another hour to watch this tv show, then I’ll…do whatever it is you have to do. But if you find you’re doing this too much. It’s time to get cracking. It’s also normal to have a plan of some sort. But at some point it’s time to just stop thinking and throw yourself into your task at hand. When you plan, you might let in negative thoughts of why something won’t work out. Usually the most anxiety you feel is during the lead up and not the actual task, once you get into it you might realize it was much easier than you thought.
5. Make a “positive” plan
If you really feel you need to make some elaborate plan, write down the task and all the things you have to do for it if everything were to go perfectly. Don’t think of any negative chances. Just write as if you had successfully gotten all the required elements to your task completed. Remember you are writing with the thought that there is no chance of failure. There are no obstacles. What does the task look like now? What do you need to do?
6. Ask other people to help
Stuck on what to do next? Why not ask a family member or friend to give you advice on how they would tackle your task? Or even if they can help with brainstorming ideas for your project (if that is what you are stuck on) It’s always good to get out of your own head and be open to listening to others ideas. Hang out with people who inspire you, who get you talking and coming up with good ideas yourself.
7. Clear out your workspace
If you’re procrastinating doing homework, or papers for work, you might find the best solution is to remove things that distract you in your workspace. Or remove yourself from an area of distraction. For instance, it’s probably not the best idea to start writing you paper on your laptop in front of the television.
Different places could stimulate productivity. One day you might find you write great in your bedroom, but the next a change of scenery might be needed, write on the balcony instead. While we are creatures of habit, if you’re wanting to stimulate creativity it’s good to get out there.
8. Positive motivation
My best friend tells me her secret to beating procrastination, is having quotes written on her mirror. She reminds herself that she can do this! she is a powerful woman, hear her roar! and other quotes. It may seem silly, but by just being positive that you can do it, sounds a whole lot more beneficial than saying “oh crap I can’t do this” well in that mood of course you can’t, you’re already setting yourself up to fail.Remain positive and believe in yourself, then you’ll be able to breeze through any task without an procrastination needed.
Good Reading? Try:
“Make your creative dreams real” (2004) or “Transformation Soup”(2000) by SARK
For online reading, have a look at this website, for another outlook and more ideas on beating procrastination: