Most people LOVE to procrastinate. To the point that they will take on tasks they've been procrastinating in order to procrastinate something else.
Putting off tasks is an American pastime. But some people really do not fall victim to procrastination at all--those superheroes are here to share their secrets.
Here were some of those answers.
Such Method, So Strategy
I attack my duties in a strategic way.
Every monday morning, I make a list of "Weekly Tasks". From that list I then cull "Monday and Tuesday Tasks" and put the rest of the list away.
I then concentrate only on the "Monday and Tuesday Tasks".
On Wednesday morning, I pull out the "Weekly Tasks" list and now make a new short list "Wednesday and Thursday" tasks etc.
A big reason for procrastination is that we get overwhelmed with all the tasks that have to be done so we go on survival mode and just don't do anything. This is a well known psychological phenomena that is not abnormal or uncommon.
The key then to overcome this I think, is to break things down and attack them slowly. Rather than 435 tasks that have to be done in a month...you break them down into 88 tasks that need to be done this week. You then further break it down into 14 tasks that need to be done today.
You then put the other lists aside and just go down the list and accomplish your 14 tasks today.
I assume you procrastinate at home. Dress as if you were going out. Your brain will feel as if you aren't at home and feel more productive.
Things By Priority
Passion/drive it is easier to get things done if you like or enjoy the task. Not everyone can 'do what you love' but maybe you can take on more of the job duties you enjoy. If this isn't possible now, how can you get there 1, 2 or 5 years from now.
Backwards planning helps. Start with what the finished project and deadline is, and then work backwards setting benchmarks that you want to reach. It gives you obtainable goals, and provides a sense of completion.
Planning- create daily/weekly/monthly list, this is just dependent on your work. You can use paper or online apps (ToDoist or Asana). Then reorder them by urgency and importance, prioritization is key. It is easy to get stuck doing a low-importance non-urgent task, to put off others. Not everything urgent is important and not all important tasks are urgent.
Know your peak time. I crush all my biggest projects first thing in the morning, luckily I was able to shift my schedule to start earlier to coincide with my internal schedule. But by 3 I am useless and no brain power is left in the tank.
Avoid time sucks. I do a quick email scan in the morning, and if nothing big happened overnight, I leave everything to be done later. Otherwise, I get stuck answering emails, and it is noon before I know it. I'm still doing something, so I feel like I'm working but what I'm really doing is procrastinating.
In the end it all comes down to motivation and habits. There are plenty of books out there, The Power of Habit and Atomic Habits, that speak on how creating habits is more important than goal setting. Motivation, well that is harder to nail down. If you aren't motivated by what you do, then do some internal digging to see why you are doing it. If you can't find any reason to be motivated, then maybe explore some of the things that do motivate you and see if you can make changes to get there. Build your talent stack.
Make lists or use a calendar. Write things like "From 1pm to 2pm I'm going to work on my resume".
When it's right in front of you like that, it's like a doctors appointment. You just do it because it's scheduled.
Break Steps Down More
"If you're having trouble getting started, the first step is too big."
Things seem hard to start because you don't actually know what physical, visible action is necessary to move them forward. Think about what that is and do it - even if it's just opening the word document you're trying to make progress on and reviewing it.
Look up 'Getting Things Done', the whole system changed my life.
It helped me stop procrastinating as much when I stopped thinking it was just a part of my personality and instead started recognizing it as an unhealthy coping mechanism that I had learned throughout my childhood to deal with anxiety. Now when I want to procrastinate I try to figure out what about the task is making me anxious, and remind myself that I feel ten times more anxious when I have a task looming over my head.
Discomfort As A Method Of Growth
Everything I've learned so far:
- None of this is a secret. Growth comes from discomfort. Muscle growth comes from tearing muscles. Weight loss comes from burning energy stores. Knowledge comes from challenging our existing understand of the world. Likewise, productivity comes from doing what we don't want now for the sake of what we do want in the long run. Until you accept that there isn't an easy way, that you need to get uncomfortable, you will never truly grow in anything.
- Adopt a better mindset. Identify as a productive person and fail rather than as a procrastinator that's meeting expectations. Our minds have a way of wanting to meet expectations, for better and for worse. Identity is more important than we realize.
- Become more emotionally intelligent and self-aware. Often procrastination isn't a problem with distraction or lack of will power, but rather the inability to cope with other matters in life. It's like figuring out why you're having a reoccurring nightmare.
- Study up on habits. They're rather simple really, but it's key that you understand exactly how we're basically the result of our neural programming; we don't make as many "free" decisions as we think on a given basis. Again, it ties back to our identity. We're simple creatures that like to follow predictable routines, so it's essential that you break up and restructure your routines.
- When in doubt, start with one of the three keystone habits of better health: sleep, fitness, food. Any one of the three will generally help with the other two, which will then snowball into many other good habits during your life. Essentially with better health and more energy comes a better mood, more productivity, and more trust in the idea that initial discomfort leads to more lifelong satisfaction.
- Another key trick, whenever you think of something that ought to be done, unless you truly have something more important happening right now, just tell yourself "do it now". In the middle of an episode of something and remember the laundry needs doing? No, don't wait until after the episode, do it now. Need something from the grocery store for something you're planning to make in a few days? No, it can't wait, do it now. This ties in with 4. You're rewiring your brain to associate the acknowledgement of a todo item with simply getting it done ASAP as opposed to believing it can be addressed later. So once something big important does come along, you just get it over with out of a habit rather than as a deliberate effort on your part.
Do the things that need to be done first. What do I need to do that cannot wait. What am I worried about? Then if it's big and I wonder where do I start - I try to to see what little things can I do, and what do I need to do to be able to tackle the big things. What can I treat myself to as a reward for getting this done? Although that line of thinking can be dangerous as not every deed warrants or rewards a treat. I write down a list of things and tick off what I can. Sometimes - nothing goes your way and I try to relax and give myself a break knowing that tomorrow is a new day.
I am an over thinker though who worries a lot and I think that in reality it's that that motivates me because I worry what people think and usually get things done so it's one less thing hanging over my head when I try to sleep at night.
For Positive Reinforcement
I love being praised.
If the trash gets taken out, dishes are done, etc. my GF will always notice and let me know it's appreciated!
The same reason I started practicing guitar and going back to the gym. She's far more musically inclined than me; which makes it so incredibly rewarding when she tells me I'm doing great. Or let me know my clothes are getting loose.
I know it's probably pretty shallow, but it's getting my lazy butt up.
Methodical Thought Experiments
Procrastination (at least for me), is usually about avoidance - an anxiety about doing a poor job, and getting judged for that. So, it becomes about a job "not yet done" is better than "a job done poorly, inviting shame/criticism/rejection."
Unfortunately, it's almost always the case that waiting til the last minute produces a worse result than simply starting early, and the chances of actually receiving criticism on the work done is almost always overblown in my mind.
Thus, it took a while, but retraining my thinking into the following helped:
- I'm procrastinating because I fear rejection/criticism.
- My fear of the criticism is likely overstated.
- Any attempt is better than no attempt.
- Starting early produces a better result, reducing the chance of criticism.
- It is in my best interest to get the things that produce this anxiety done as swiftly as possible, so that I can stop worrying.
Procrastination seems to be one of those things that haunts almost everyone. It creeps up on you at the worst times, whether you have that big essay to write, or laundry to do, that just hangs over your head. Some stories are worse than others, and these Redditors can tell you the worst of the worst.
u/Notyourusualbitch asked: What was your worst "s**t I procrastinated for too long" experience?
A gut punch of guilt.
It was my daughters wedding last year. I still feel sick when I think about it. Nothing went too wrong and she was still happy with it but I seriously dropped the ball on getting the decorations ready, the food. For all the planning we had put into it, it was not the glamorous affair it was going to be.
The day of the wedding my brain completely checked out. Only half of what was planned got done. She just celebrated her 1st anniversary and I still can't think about her wedding without getting a gut punch of guilty. I want a do over.
This is a mood.
I had to switch my laundry from the washer to the dryer. I procrastinated it for 12 hours or more.
I have a front loading washer, it spins really fast. Loads come out requiring much less drying time than my old washer. Downside is that things get really compressed and wrinkled, especially when I leave a load in overnight.
I made the mistake of leaving my down comforter in there overnight before drying it. It compressed most of the down into tiny pills and drying it did not reverse the damage. I've washed this thing many times before but I destroyed it this time.
German is HARD!
Right now. As I'm f**king off on Reddit with a German test I have not started studying for occurring in 3 hours and 18 minutes.
EDIT: for the curious, the test went well. Made a few dumb vocabulary mix-ups, but I would estimate my grade between 84-93.
Did this exact same thing in college. Like to the tee including my procrastination being a German test.
I'm pretty sure the only reason I passed German in college is because it was my minor and all the professors were probably so sick of seeing me year after year so my senior year they just passed me so I could get out of their hair.
Oh well it paid off and I sent my final professor flowers and candy for helping me pass that class and hence graduate college.
In like grade 6 or 7 when we were doing a unit on probability in math our teacher decided it would be fun to have us all essentially turn the class into a casino so he had us all design games where we weren't allowed to make it rigged so it was impossible to win but the "house" had to win 60% of the time.
It took me forever to come up with a good idea and when I finally did I realized I had procrastinated way too long and I only had 2 nights to finish this project out of the two weeks we had so I completely over compensated.
My dad's a builder so let's just say at a very young age I knew how to use power tools and there was a lot of wood laying around my house. I designed a car racing game that you'd bet on and there were 5 lanes on a wood track about 8 feet long that slopes downhill. I drilled holes in the lanes at the top and there was a board underneath on a hinge that had nails in it. The nails fit through the holes and when you ripped the lower board the nails would retract and release the cars.
The way I accomplished the 60% house win was I hammered 2 of the 5 nails in a little bit farther than the other 3 so those cars would release slightly earlier. I would also mix up the hot wheels cars each time so people wouldn't quite catch on. I had a couple of sports cars and then some heavier ones like a dump truck and a school bus and so the weight difference between the cars gave the illusion of it being completely random.
On presentation day I quickly realized I had completely over engineered this casino game because most other people had just come up with card tricks or some variation on Plinko or Wheel of Fortune.
Senioritis is REAL.Giphy
I studied for my MCAT a few days ago. Not the 3 months recommended, not even 3 weeks, but 3 days before.
There was also a particularly stupid one in high school that cost me. I was in my senior year and deep in senioritis. I slacked off most in my military history class, putting in the bare amount of effort for an easy A. The class had weekly current event papers due. Really simple things, just write a paragraph about some conflict or new piece of tech being revealed in the world. It had the most lenient late policy ever. You could submit stuff months later for credit.
Well I just got super lazy and didn't hand in 3 months worth of current event papers. I waited until the last minute, as grades were being entered and frozen in the system, to sprint out of my gym class, print them at the library and run over to submit them.
And I couldn't. The teacher had locked in grades literal seconds before I opened the door and was getting ready to leave. From an easy A to a D in minutes, when it didn't need to be. Which messed my GPA and put me toward my safety school for college...
If I ever had the chance to redo high school, that'd be on my bucket list.
Not mine, but it still involves me.
My boyfriend was assigned homework at the beginning of the semester in September that was due before Christmas break in December.
He didn't do it despite me reminding him to over the course of those 3 months and instead waited until my birthday (which is December 13th) to cancel my birthday plans and do homework instead. After he promised to make my birthday "the best one ever" (I don't celebrate my birthday because my parents ruined it for me as a kid and eventually didn't allow me to celebrate it any longer, so it's a very tainted day for me).
I hadn't felt that unimportant in a long time.
Don't do it.
I had a very important 12 page paper to write for school. Had to do a lot of research to do for it, think we got like 2 or 3 months to write it. And my dumb a** didn't want to get started until i actually forced myself to.
A WEEK before we had to turn it in. I slept about 20 hours in that whole week (I wrote down how much I slept on a note in my phone somewhere), going two days without any, while having to go to school and I was actually a few minutes late on the day of the deadline because I was printing out the whole thing that morning.
Little bit of advice: Don't be like me.
Waited till 1.5 hours before the deadline to write an art theory essay for school. Submitted it with 1 minute to spare and went to bed (it was due at midnight that night.)
One week later, I get my grade back:
And this is why I still do art theory as an elective folks.
I've been wanting to apply to this Web Design course for a year. Applications were from May to the end of this month. Procrastinated and applied only in the end of August.
Course has very little spots left now and I may not get in at all. Apparently it was a first come first serve thing. I feel terrible and desperate and I still don't know what I'm gonna do.
That one time I had a coding project that I had a month to finish. In the beginning, I was like "there's a month, I can chill a bit this week". And then it was "Three weeks left. That should be enough time. I'll start tomorrow, let's relax today."
And all of a sudden it was only one week left of a month-long project and I hadn't even decided what I was going to code.
The worst kind of surprise.Giphy
One time a professor emailed us a pdf about 20 pages to read. I thought cool, I can read that on the bus on the way to class that morning.
I open the pdf, and each 'page' was two pages Xeroxed from a book, front and back of each. So all in all it was 80 pages....
The one that comes to mind was college hunting. I was applying to MIT, which requires recommendations from two or three teachers (I remember two, but w/e) as well as some other things. I gave one to the accounting teacher and one to my math teacher. The accounting teacher finished the recommendation reasonably quickly. The math teacher forgot about it until it was too late. I should have recognized he was a piece of garbage, but I also should have been on him to get it done. Waiting till it was too late to ask another teacher crushed me.
I think despondency about not having a real shot at the school I wanted eventually led to my quitting the school I did get in, and everything that's happened since.
I decided to leave my last class of my degree for an online summer course. I procrastinated it so bad that I withdrew. So I decided to do it online this spring....procrastinated again and withdrew. I talked to my university and I have taken too many semesters off and will have to apply for the program again.
I have a job I love in my field, but f**k this keeps me up at night sometimes. Just one stupid class and I can't seem to do it.
Now THAT'S talent.Giphy
I walked into a second to last class ready to plan my final project. Only to find the project was due right now and I hadn't started. I said I forgot it at home, ran back, and did it while the class was ongoing and managed to still rock a solid B grade.
Second year at university. I partied too hard, didn't do any work, left it too late to catch-up. Had to repeat the year.
Then after working for several years, I went back to get a postgrad qualification, procrastinated the written work too long and didn't complete it on time.
Managed to get extensions beyond extensions while working full time but still kept procrastinating.
After a year I eventually had to hold my hands up and admit I hadn't finished the qualification to my employer and had to leave.
That was the worst time of my life.
Depression is a bitch. Imposter syndrome is a b*tch. Perfectionism is a b*tch.