There is nothing more distressing than the constant feeling of something unfinished.
Do you recognize the sound of having to do a task or project you have been attempting to work on, but keep procrastinating?
“I will start later,” “I could do this tomorrow,” “The time is not right,” “I have more time,” “I’m not ready.”
And you continue to procrastinate and procrastinate, until at one point tasks have piled and piled and it’s too late for you to even begin working on them.
One of the biggest obstacles to success is procrastination. And not only this — except that it “eats” our time and lowers our self-esteem, procrastination leads to stress and deepens the internal conflicts within ourselves.
When we postpone a task we practically do not act, yet we cannot fully enjoy this omission because we know that we have something to do, something we have that “hangs” unfinished. Time flies and there’s always some unpleasant feeling of gnawing inside us that prevents us from being calm. And the more time passes, the more we begin to blame ourselves, feel incapable, lazy, idle, and unorganized.
The more we delay, the more the task seems more difficult and impossible. Olin Millers says:
“If you want to make the easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.”
Not only that, but our daily lives overwhelm us with new responsibilities, tasks that are constantly accumulating and we feel increasingly busy, confused and pressured — we do not know where to start, unfinished responsibilities are accumulating and we keep racing with our time, a race that we may never win…
And since man has a characteristic to justify his or her behavior even to him or herself, he or she subconsciously begins to find excuses for the delay.
Suddenly another “very important” task arises that seems even more urgent that makes you check your email, review statuses on social media, and suddenly it occurs to you that you must “urgently” call a friend. And all this causes even a further delay.
Our subconscious is really amazingly creative in finding a way out of an unpleasant or difficult task to our “present” so things that seem completely credible, important and compelling reasons to excuse us. For example, one can feel hungry, thirsty and tired just to not undertake the task, and in some cases may even become ill (being sick is still a very good reason not to get to work, right?). Circumstances can accumulate in an adverse way — suddenly something “unexpected” happens or someone interferes with our plans along with many other reasons that deviate us from our target.
These are protections and subconscious mechanisms (we are not aware of their action) to avoid pain, fear and discomfort. And because our subconscious is associated with energy all around us, it affects the outside world, or at least makes us to do everything else and see the task at hand as a reason for delay. Gradually it becomes a habit in our way to deal with difficulties.
As you can see, this mechanism is not directed against us. In the deep essence it “wants” to protect us from the pain of unpleasant feelings and aims to exculpate us and release tension. This mechanism allows us to preserve as we “postpone” a task.
And behind the postponement lies precisely fear — fear of failure, fear that we won’t accomplish what we want, because the task is too complicated or difficult, fear that we need to make tremendous efforts to manifest strong will and almost to push ourselves, which brings a sense of frustration and even pain.
Although this mechanism can be seen as “well-intentioned” and wants to protect us, in practicality it begins to harm us. This is because its purpose is to save us from unpleasant feeling now, regardless of the future.
What can we do to overcome procrastination?
Realize what is the real reason to procrastinate. Ask yourself what you fear — is it fear of failure, fear of difficulties or fear that you cannot cope with? Ask yourself, after all, what would happen if you fail? Surely what fear is more likely to happen if you continue to procrastinate?
If you do not like what you have to do and did not believe that you can do better, cancel the task (if the case allows this) and set other activities for yourself.
But if you really want to finish a task, the only way to overcome fear and to prove to yourself that you can, is to just do it.
Discover the hidden mechanisms of the subconscious.
Try to discover how this habit was formed. Track back in time when they have occurred and something that has prevented your from performing a task. You may find that you are often sick when it was necessary for you to do something and require effort. Or you might find that whenever you decide to start something and it appeared somewhat difficult this deliberately sabotaged you.
When you realize that in many cases the illness, disorder or sabotaging circumstances were just part of the mechanism of deposition and justifying your actions and when you overcome fears, which include this mechanism, they will no longer be needed.
Divide the task into small parts and concentrate on each individually.
When we start a project, study for a difficult exam, have to complete a report or have an assigned task, it often these tasks seem very extensive, complicated and impossible. For example, we want to publish a book and just the thought about how much time and effort will take us and the thousands of unknowns about the process make us procrastinate more — when we are more motivated when circumstances change or have more time.
Or we have to prepare for an exam with 40 questions and we are terrified by the thought about the hard work that awaits us, that we will be unable to learn what we need for the exam and we begin to procrastinate again — this is an extremely normal reaction.
Things would be quite different, if we divide the work into small tasks. For example, today focus on the plan for the book, then collecting materials, selecting a name and so on. Or decide today to learn only one point from the questionnaire without thinking how many questions remain.
The key point here to focus only on the specific step. Ignore the thought of how much work awaits and how much is unknown in the process. Of course, you cannot solve everything right now, while at the first stage. Concentrate only on the stage where you are and gradually things will begin to clarify and rank.
Martin Luther King Jr. said:
“You do not have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
Make a plan.
Make a schedule and distribute major and small tasks by days and hours. Set deadlines and check off what has been done. The deadline period always mobilizes, and when an item on the plan has been completed, it brings a sense of satisfaction, a sense that things move and go forward. Allow these to be your little victories.
Often we procrastinate to do a task because it is related to making a decision or an opinion on any issue. Hesitation and fear of a mistake also make us procrastinate for tomorrow, hoping that things can be solved alone or that tomorrow will be easier. This “tomorrow,” however never comes.
Thus just take time and make a decision. It is always better to make a decision and act than to think you can postpone and ultimately do nothing. It is always better to try and fail rather than not doing anything at all. And every failure is actually an experience that takes you a step closer to your success.
Turn off Facebook, Skype, the phone, TV and focus only on the specific task you have on hand. When a job requires effort and attention, everything around seems to be more interesting.
Thus imperceptibly you can even watch a movie or the news. You can kill hours by “only doing this and that.”
Remove everything and focus on what you have to do, as it is the only thing that exists. Indulge yourself completely. It is better to work half an hour, but focused on the goal rather than hours, distracted from other things. When you are focused you gain time and energy, and the faster you do it all, the more time you will have for enjoyable things.
Alternate work breaks.
Create an appropriate rhythm of work to be able to act fully. For example, one hour work, 10 minutes break. You can best define exactly how to make the distribution of your time; it is important to follow the planned and know that work time is only for work and rest time is only for rest time.
As you know, there is nothing more inspiring and refreshing than motivation. Ask yourself why you need to do a certain thing, why do you want it, what would it bring to you?
This may be a promotion at work, or achieving a very important goal for yourself, or simply creating a sense of calm and peace that will increase your self-esteem.
Write down all the benefits that will bring you to completing the task. Place it in a prominent place so you can remind yourself often.
Make the task engaging, you do not have to wait for inspiration or a special moment. Create your own inspiration.
Write the things that you must do, learn or create. Watch a video or a movie related to your topics. This will help you to plunge into the atmosphere and cause desire to act. Arrange your desk; ventilate your room. Listen to music, read the lyrics of the song you’re listening to or read some motivational quotes.
Communicate with motivated, confident and active people, people who achieve and have achieved success.
Motivation is contagious and you will soon conquer their enthusiasm.
Tell your friends about what you intend to do.
If you procrastinate to realize an idea, tell your friends about your project and tell them your terms with yourself. This way you make a promise to yourself and to them, and this will cause you to be more responsible and not give up.
Often what makes us procrastinate is that we do not know where to begin — with the most difficult or the least difficult tasks, which are more important and which are secondary. Of course, it is useful to define your priorities, build a strategy that will give you more convenience to start with the difficult tasks or to act on the easy to the difficult ones, from the beginning to the end. Everyone can find a different approach for him or herself.
But in this case it is crucial that you just start — with any task. Just start. Right now!
Get into the habit of immediately working on the small obligations.
In many cases we postpone the execution of small tasks. This may be from making a phone call, to writing a business email in response to a request, to washing dishes, to go to the banking, etc. Things that do not require much time, but we neglect them, telling ourselves, “I’ll finish it later, now I have more important work, I have no time for this right now.”
As small and as not important such small tasks may be, at one moment they keep accumulating and take over our feelings causing us to feel frustration and chaos.
We become irritable, we begin to complain that we are too busy, blame fate or the people around us.
In the morning we wake up with tension and feel that once again we have to do thousands of things. So imperceptibly we create and fall into the role of “poor me.”
We could avoid this if we just act right now at that moment.
In most cases, the first step and direction requires only a few minutes. We can choose to refuse the execution of a task (especially when someone is asking us to do his or her work), we can also choose to assign some of the responsibilities at home to other members of the household (for example, a child may throw the garbage), but accumulating tasks, to procrastinate and blame the world for our situation is completely pointless and useless.
What do you think?
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About The Author
Dr. Mila is an internationally known Change Catalyst. She teaches individuals and organizations about awareness, connection, and the need for change – personally, socially, and professionally.