We are always complaining that our days are few, and acting as though there would be no end of them. ~Lucius Annaeus Seneca [tweet this]
I had mentioned in an earlier post that I was recently taking an inventory of my daily activities in an attempt to find out how am I doing in the area of managing my priorities and my daily agenda. I do this activity towards the end of each year to reflect upon how I have been doing on the time management front during last several months.
I decided to write today on procrastination because one of the reasons I do my personal activity tracking exercise is, to find out how much I am procrastinating these days.
According to research reports that I came across, indications are that 90 to 95% of people procrastinate in one way or another. I do as well, and therefore I plan each time to take action steps diligently everyday to overcome the procrastination challenge.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
I used to think that we procrastinate only when we have fear of something or we procrastinate when we are lazy. But I’ve come to realize that while those are valid reasons for procrastination, in many cases, we procrastinate simply because our priorities are not right.
In the his famous book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey explains this four quadrants of time management that exactly explains how we all spend our time on a daily basis on taks at hand and how that affects our achievements:
Most of the time we spend our time dealing with the urgent issues (important or not) and therefore, we hardly get time to focus on things in Q2, which is the reason why we always seem to be in crisis mode.
Whenever I’ve found my focus slipped from Q2 of this quadrant into Q1 or Q3 (which is very natural and tempting especially in today’s noisy world), I’ve caught myself procrastinating. Therefore, let’s discuss how we can effectively manage our priorities so that we do not fall into the trap of procrastination which is the biggest enemy of productivity.
But before we can discuss further, here is an awesome video on procrastination process that I am sure you will at least enjoy watching as much as I did:
How To Overcome Procrastination
There may be several ways of getting out of the procrastination trap, but here are the ways that help myself overcome this challenge:
1. Know Your Goals And Daily Priorities
A confused mind does nothing and when the plan is not written, the mind is mostly confused. [tweet this]
Nothing motivates me more than my written dreams and goals. I often take time to visualize my dreams and goals and their achievements. When I do that, I am fully focused and on target.
One thing to note though is, when I set my goals, I make sure to break my long term goals in to smaller short term goals and then break them into daily actionable items. That helps me track myself on a daily basis and thus it caters to Dr. Covey’s time management quadrant planning as well. It works for me very well.
2. Know The Consequences Of Procrastination
We are motivated by either pleasure of gain or by pain of loss. Sometimes pride or feelings of accomplishment motivate us to work towards our goals to make them happen. However, sometimes the fear of loss, the pain or the embarrassment of failing motivates us to achieve our goals.
We all are motivated differently. But if you keep an account of what is at stake if you fail to achieve those daily goals, most probably you will not procrastinate. Personally, I don’t like to lose and therefore I keep pushing towards my goals because come what may, I want to win.
3. Often Remind Yourself Of The Risks And Rewards
We need to have dreams and goals written. We also need to know and write down the benefits or the rewards of achieving them. However, it is even more important to keep them in front of us regularly so we never lose our sight of them.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore! Dream! Discover! ~Mark Twain
My goals, their associated risk and rewards, keep me on track and therefore, I always keep them in front of my eyes. I especially keep the risks of procrastination prominently in front of my eyes because that will never let me drift away from my goals.
4. Do Self-Talk To Take Action Every Day
In addition to keeping written dreams and goals in front of me, this is the most powerful tool I have ever encountered in my life so far. I remember to do a self-talk. I’ve written special self-talk that I read out aloud to myself every morning and at night and as many times as I find myself alone during the day.
Positive self-talk helps program my subconscious mind to keep me in the action zone. It is an amazing method of getting things done. Snigdha and I are strong believers of positive self-talk and we have seen miracles happening using this technique. To learn more about self-talk and the law of attraction, I recommend you grab these books and by the time you are done reading these, I bet you will be inspired to start using self-talk in your own life:
5. Take Action – Everyday
All the motivation fails when we consciously make excuses when the time comes to take action. Therefore, this is the one step that really makes all the difference in the world. After all the goal setting and game planning, I make a conscious effort to brush off the procrastination and force myself to take action.
Inaction breeds fear and when we are surrounded by fear, we are less and less motivated to make it happen. On the other hand, action cures fear. When we take action in spite of the fears, in spite of the discomfort, we develop courage and in the end, we come victorious.
Over To You Now
How do you manage to overcome procrastination? What motivates you to keep pushing towards your goals even when the going gets tough? Please share your response in the comments.