Early in the year, we set goals. We know the things that are important to us and the actions we need to take in order to achieve our goals.
We all want to double our income, eat healthily, spend more time with family and exercise to lose weight. But most of us never get started, and those who do start stop after a few attempts.
Procrastination is a hot topic to discuss. It simply means we're not doing something, or that we're delaying the things we set out to do. We all know how bad is it to procrastinate.
The problem is, we still do it. It's a complex human behavior to explain in the context of science, but you don't need to understand why for now. Instead, we're going to talk about how to beat procrastination. You don't need to know how to build a car in order to drive a car.
1. Start small.
First things first: Start small. Procrastination usually occurs when we overthink or over plan. Planning too much and drawing out too many action steps will only make us feel overwhelmed. Then, we'll never get started.
I believe most of us fall into this trap and get stuck there. We get stuck in the cycle of endless brainstorming, endless planning, countless predictions and action steps. But we never take the first leap.
Start small. Start before you're ready. Start with the first small thing in front of you that you can take immediate action toward.
Long-term planning and prediction are simply not realistic or practical most of the time. We live in an ever-changing world. We have very little information and resources to predict or control any outcomes.
Take the first step. Get feedback. Make adjustments and proceed to the next. As long as your direction is clear, you're on the right track.
- Want to increase business revenue? Start with the simplest action, such as making calls or posting something on social media in order to get the attention.
- Want to start eating healthily? Don't wait for your monthly meal plan. Start making healthier choices at your next meal itself.
- Want to build a blog? Start writing. Forget about SEO and the color of your website header for now.
2. Attack the weak.
People don't usually build good behavior and habits out of the blue. Most of the time, we replace bad habits with good ones. To move to point B, you have to leave point A.
One of the reasons we procrastinate is because we can't leave point A. It's not even about point B in this scenario. The bad habits we carry are just too strong for us to break. You really wanted to start exercising in the morning, but you simply can't get up early.
Some people will tell you that you need to set your mind straight. You need to have more motivation, and a burning desire toward your goals. Get your ass up and start exercising now.
The thing is, motivation and drive are very abstract. It's very hard (almost impossible) to measure, control or even practice. To build up motivation and drive, we first need action and results. This loops back to the problem of procrastination and lack of action.
Be flexible and attack the weak spot first. If exercising regularly is the new behavior you want to build, be flexible and start. Adjust your schedule in order to start working out in the evening instead of the morning.
Build up the new behavior slowly, and expand it further when the time is right. Review your options again: Do you really have to get up earlier in order to exercise? Most of the time, you don't.
But if you really want to get up earlier, you can slowly adjust your schedule again when exercising becomes a stronger habit for you.
3. Try the two-minute hack.
Starting small on the weak spot is a great method to stop procrastination in the wider context of habit building. But here is something else you can use: Try the two-minute hack as a strategy to help you out.
How does the two-minute hack work? Do it immediately if the task requires less than two minutes to complete.
A simple and quick task is not necessarily an unimportant task. But our brain automatically categorizes it as unimportant subconsciously, and always tries to find ways to put it on hold. The next thing we know, we've totally forgotten about it.
Train yourself to work on the task immediately if it takes less than two minutes. This will not only free up your schedule and stop you from procrastinating, but it will also free up your head space for something more important and complicated.
On the flip side, if the task takes a lot of time to complete, start doing it for two minutes. As I mentioned above, we procrastinate when we're feeling overwhelmed with the task at hand. Most of the time, we end up overthinking it and never take action.
Set a timer for two minutes and start focusing completely on the task at hand. When we get into the flow of things, we usually continue the task until we complete it. You just need those critical two minutes to get started.
4. Focus on building habits.
We're all shaped by what we repeatedly do. We're all shaped by our habits. One of the best ways to stop procrastinating is to focus on building habits that are based on your desired behavior, such as setting up your to-do list and exercising regularly.
Understand the pleasure and pain that's linked to your desired behaviors. Set a flexible schedule to achieve them and reward yourself when you get them done.
But never forget to take rest. Set some time to do nothing. Rest and enjoy the moment without any stress. This will definitely help you relax your mind, and it'll reduce brain fatigue for your upcoming tasks.
This articles was originally published on the author's personal blog.