Overcoming procrastination is a challenge for many of us, including myself. When faced with a task we think will be difficult or unpleasant, we often escape by doing something easier or more pleasant. While Woebot says that procrastination stems from the fear of not doing a job well, not from the urge to irritate others, overcoming procrastination is probably more difficult than overcoming the habit of overeating. Procrastination is a motivation problem which occurs when we do activities that are less meaningful to us instead of getting to important projects that will advance our lives and careers.
Opportunity Costs of not Overcoming Procrastination
Most importantly, not overcoming procrastination can be costly, especially in financial matters. It can also result in a huge opportunity cost. Putting off reproduction for instance, can result in missing the window of opportunity to procreate. Not getting our retirement in place can set us up for poverty in our advanced years. So, how can procrastination be overcome?
Overcoming Procrastination by Changing Our Mindset
First, we can begin overcoming procrastination by changing our mindset. We can’t go back in time. We must start, or continue with a project we have already started, from where we are. Some opportunities are lost and can’t be retrieved. But lest we get caught up in mourning over that, let’s acknowledge that there are always new possibilities in our lives–if we begin overcoming procrastination on the important things.
Identify Areas of Procrastination
Second, identify areas where you are procrastinating. Be honest with yourself. Are you procrastinating getting that Web site done because you can’t decide where to host it? Are you procrastinating losing weight because you love fast food and junk food too much? Make a list of the things you are putting off and decide what the next step is. Think positively about what your future will be once you finally act on the above list.
What Can We Do?
Third, get the end in mind and break down the project. Let’s suppose you have a major project you need to finish. It may have a due date. It may not. But let’s suppose it’s important. Work backwards from the end product, and list the five major moves required. These moves will most likely need to be broken down further into steps. You can break down the steps, write them on post-it notes, and order the post-it notes like a PERT chart. I pasted post-it notes with the steps for starting my blog on the freezer door. This way I could see my project laid out every time I went to the freezer. Some steps can be worked on simultaneously. This can possibly permit the delegation of some steps to others.
Overcoming Procrastination by Setting Deadlines
Fourth, set a meaningful deadline. Brendon Burchard in High Performance Habitsmentions necessity as one of the essential characteristics of high performance. Necessity arises from the absolute necessity to complete your project. Necessity can arise from your sense of identity or duty. One way to raise necessity is to set a deadline. A deadline must be meaningful, i.e. there must be some cost to not meeting it.
Overcoming Procrastination with the Help of JV Life Tracker
Fifth, track the progress of your project. The JV Life Tracker app on Google Play is a tool you can use to track a project. Suppose you estimate you can devote one hour a day to getting started on your project. Later perhaps, you can devote even more time. You can add the project as an activity in JV Life Tracker and then expand it into multiple numbered activities with the context menu option Modify group checked.
You can give yourself a bonus point or even more for each minute you spend on the project. Then after exporting your checklist each day for a period of time, you can run a report in JV Life Tracker to see how well you did. You can reward yourself for acceptable performance between any two dates: perhaps a special evening out with your partner. You can put each of your steps into JV Life Tracker and give yourself an appropriate number of points for working on or completing each one. In the beginning, you may want to reward yourself for every day you even sit down to work on your project, just so you can start to form a habit. Then as momentum gathers, it will get easier. JV Life Tracker, if used daily, will keep your projects in front of you, ensuring that you do not simply give up on them by forgetting them.
An Example using JV Life Tracker
This blog article features JV Life Tracker, a mobile phone tool I designed and programmed to help you track your daily actions on activities in projects and keep them in mind until completion. If you have multiple priorities, that will work too. Last summer I started using Lynda.com for training. I initially set a goal to use it three hours a day. For every minute I spent on Lynda.com, I scored a point, splitting the amount for the first hour, second hour, and so on. “Work Education Lynda.com” shows a point for each day for a month. You can see my points for the month of September.
Later, as my new education gave me greater clarity on my business goals, I wanted more time to work on my business. I still wanted to use Lynda however because it is the catalyst of new ideas and know how. So, I started giving myself fifty points for just using it for at least ten minutes a day, in addition to the points I was already giving it. JV Life Tracker allows you to award yourself points in any way you see fit.
Obstacles and Snags as Barriers to Overcoming Procrastination
Barriers to overcoming procrastination include snags and obstacles. Most projects run into snags and obstacles. I recently read a gem of a book entitled The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. His inspiring message taught me to turn obstacles into opportunities. One obstacle I ran into with my blog was that my WordPress installation did not size and display my graphics for mobile devices. Overcoming this obstacle led me to learn about responsive images, polyfills, and Picturefill.WP. The obstacle became an opportunity to learn more about the history of the Web and its solutions. I overcame the obstacle. You can give yourself additional points in JV Life Tracker for overcoming snags and obstacles.
You can add reminders in JV Life Tracker as well, for things like eliminating added sugar from your diet or going without gluten and dairy for the day. For those activities you resort to instead of doing that big important thing, give yourself points for not doing them or for only doing them for a certain length of time. I give myself ten points for talking on the phone less 1.5 hours a day, ten more for talking less than one hour a day, and ten more for just minimizing my time on the phone. One useful tool to track your daily cell phone time is RescueTime.com. You can also give yourself points for getting to bed before certain items: say ten points before 10:30 PM, ten more for before 10:00 PM, and yet twenty more for before 9:30 PM. These are just suggestions. You can set up your points any way you choose.
Overcoming procrastination is a worthy goal. However, some things can and should be put off. This is called positive procrastination. Using judgment about these activities is a skill worth developing. Often requests from others can appear more urgent than they are. Ask the requester, “When is the latest I can get back to you on this?”
Congratulations! You have concluded a mini-lesson on overcoming
procrastination and are ready to transform your life by doing meaningful projects you’ve been putting off. It’s not too soon to get started! I send you my blessing of health, happiness, joy, and vibrancy! Please post any ideas for improvements in the comments. I would love to hear from you!
I will send a FREE pre-publication copy of my 327-page ebook Joyful Vibrance: Transform Your Body Image, Energy, and Mood! It is Possible! worth $14.99 to the first 100 people who leave me their email address. Be sure to register for a copy on the Contact form.