Here is the brutal truth about Procrastination.
According to few researchers every 1 in 5 individuals admit that they have incurred significant loss in finances, relationships, business, health or personal lives due to procrastination.
That is something.
Just to personalise this a bit more, how much do you go against your best judgement and procrastinate when you want to achieve something in both of your personal and business lives?
Here is a small exercise:
Just list the tasks that you wanted to do since start of this year versus how many did you actually do, on a piece of paper and I bet, you will be back straight into this post.
Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.
Too many people think, they are trying to do many things resulting in insufficient time available to them and hence the reason why they procrastinate.
Here is the deal:
Procrastination has nothing to do with time and is everything to do with lack of knowledge on what happens between an intention and action.
The time gap between an intention and action can be as much as one hour to few years to a lifetime.
Procrastination is an act of delaying or postponing a task or series of tasks that an individual wants to do.
Procrastination Is The Thief Of Time
If you are struggling with the serial procrastination then this post is exactly designed to address that and give a more in-depth understanding of how we behave and how should we overcome this issue.
Why Do People Procrastinate?
There are too many responses to this on why people procrastinate.
If I classify them at a high level, it boils down to three high level sections
- Indecision and Unknown
Wait phase is where people tend to think it isn’t the right time and want to get perfect before they can really do something.
The ones who wait for everything and think there is thrill in doing things at the last minute.
- I will wait and see if I really need to do this.
- I will wait for perfect moment to do a task.
- I like the thrill that I get from the last minute execution of tasks.
- This isn’t perfect and I need to get better at doing this first before I move a muscle.
- Wait until the last minute because I work better under pressure.
2) Indecision And Unknown:
This is a phase where individuals procrastinate not because they want to but don’t know what the outcome will be if they take an action now.
The ones who don’t seem to commit to something they want to do due to lack of belief in themselves or concerned on what others will think.
In other words they fear to take an action due to their prediction of some pain in future or generally unaware on how to do something.
- I am not sure on how to do this task.
- I don’t want to do this but everybody else are doing this, so I need to do it.
- Will I succeed if I do this task.
- Need time to decide and cant risk it in any way.
Perception is a beautiful thing given this is a zone where one assumes, what they think is always right.
One stops seeing the point and blocks his/her own way towards achieving their goals.
- I still have lot of time and I can do it in the last minute easily.
- I am not feeling well or good to do this task.
- I need to prioritise on what I need to do before I can do this task.
- I just don’t bother because this is not what I want.
- I need to relax first and things can wait or can be done later.
Levelling Up Procrastination
Procrastination is not something people are born with. They gradually inherit it into their DNA due to day to day pressures and/or insecurities.
In other words:
It’s a self grown negative habit and is certainly not hereditary :).
As with anything, this does not happen in a day and is a result of repeated practice of delaying tasks due to insecurities and negative internal dialogue most of the time.
Two key trends that one goes through within those practices can be explained as follows.
A mindset which thinks there is always a tomorrow i.e. Do it tomorrow….
The end result will be to chill out towards first 80% of time available to action the task and experience the stress, anxiety and in some cases thrill doing the task in 20% of time under pressure.
This results in low quality of result give the focus now shifts from doing quality work to just get the work done.
A mindset which thinks the challenge is all over and things left can be done tomorrow…….
Mostly this results from two facts
- Initial hype to action the task and losing momentum mid way and there by their focus and self belief.
- Experience the thrill of challenge upfront and when you gain confidence that work can be done, you lose interest to complete the task.
This is a bigger evil to practice because if you get used to this type of procrastination you are building yourself to lose focus and belief in everything you do.
How To Stop Procrastination?
1) Pattern Assessment
Observing patterns that you exhibit when you procrastinate on things, and the patterns you exhibit after you realise you have procrastinated.
The patterns you exhibit resulting in procrastination should throw questions in your mind and should lead you to a solution that you need to put in place personalised to you.
As an example:
Getting up early in the morning, I always knew I can do it if there was a purpose. But for 2 years I did not because in my mind there was no purpose.
In reality though, it was my laziness trying to give me a positive talk and adding a flossy layer to get comfortable.
So, the pattern I exhibited there was to give a positive spin on something I am not doing.
Last 3 years, I have been consistently getting up early in the morning focused on building my property portfolio and last 1.5 years, I have been working on my fitness getting myself out of issues successfully.
This now is a lifestyle and no longer a can do or want to do task.
In other words I beat procrastination in one aspect resulting in a good habit of getting up early as part of my lifestyle after a year+ of practice.
2) Habit Stacking
First I heard about Habit Stacking is whilst reading a book called Atomic Habits.
I use habit stacking heavily to overcome any procrastination that can creep in into my day to day tasks.
Habit stacking simply goes like this.
After I do one of my daily task 1 (habit you like)….I am going to get my task 2 done (task you procrastinate).
Once I drink my coffee on a Sunday in the morning (habit), I am going to spend 20 minutes raising all my pending invoices and complete my accounting (stacked habit).
Beauty though is:
When you use habit stacking regularly, your body and mind gets tuned to the stack automatically so much so that it slowly becomes your normal state and gets included as part of your lifestyle over a period of time.
Designing systems, however small reinforce the purpose into what you should be doing with your time.
They tune human mind and body to a routine and eventually convert the routines to habits and lifestyle further if done right.
When we were doing viewings in the initial stage of our investment journey, we were missing few weeks to go to our investment area.
We then put a system in place to visit our area every 2 weeks and put invites in our calendars for 6 months in advance.
Our body and mind are now synced to that calendar which pushed us to organise viewings on a regular basis.
We were building our portfolio with a purpose reinforced every fortnight.
4) Intermediate Deadlines
Deadlines cuts the procrastination periods short.
Tracking to intermediate deadlines will minimise the last minute panic that one experiences due to procrastination when there is a deadline.
Asking yourself simple 3 questions when you are after something on a periodic basis or even daily aligns you back to what you want to achieve in your personal and business lives.
- What have I done this week/month/year that served to achieve my goals
- What could have been done better to achieve my goals
- What is the one learning I will implement for next period
It’s more of self-realisation and awareness exercise than anything else doing this retrospection either each day or each week or a period comfortable to you.