You have people that always promise to get things done the next day, but never actually achieve anything – the procrastinators.
You don’t love procrastination but you do it most often?
The guilt of not being in control kills you from within?
“Procrastination is my sin.
It brings me naught but sorrow.
I know that I should stop it.
In fact, I will — tomorrow!”
— Gloria Pitzer
Well, today I’m not going to give you some hot-shot tips that those self-help books sell you in the name of self-motivation. Instead, I’ll make you realize how you are hurting your present and future due to this bad habit. Later in the post, I’ll disclose a few realistic measures that might help change the way you look at things – for better.
Why do humans Procrastinate and what you can do about it?
This is going to be a long post. So if you are not an avid reader of my stuff, you can just skim through the headings. I’ll still recommend reading the whole post 🙂
The Historical Element
I love to add a ‘historical element’ in my posts. So for this purpose, I was searching for why do humans procrastinate. I came to know that even famous personalities like Dalai Lama, Leonardo Da Vinci, Bill Clinton, and Victor Hugo were having trouble to get things moving.
The story of celebrated French Romantic author Victor Hugo intrigued me the most.
In the summer of 1830, Victor Hugo was facing an impossible deadline. Twelve months earlier, the French author had promised his publisher a new book. But instead of writing, he spent that year pursuing other projects, entertaining guests, and delaying his work. Frustrated, Hugo’s publisher responded by setting a deadline less than six months away. The book had to be finished by February 1831.
Hugo concocted a strange plan to beat his procrastination. He collected all of his clothes and asked an assistant to lock them away in a large chest. He was left with nothing to wear except a large shawl. Lacking any suitable clothing to go outdoors, he remained in his study and wrote furiously during the fall and winter of 1830. The Hunchback of Notre Dame was published two weeks early on January 14, 1831.
So now I knew that this problem is not a new one. In fact, it has been so timeless that ancient Greek philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle developed a word to describe this type of behavior: Akrasia.
Why don’t we act on our plans?
I was planning to write this article last week, but…I didn’t. It’s no wonder humans procrastinate so often. It’s such a tempting option! It seems so easy at the moment, so simple. Just…delay. Do it later, when you have more brain space. Tomorrow, when you’re fresh. The day after, so you have time to find someone else to pawn the task off on.
Actually, this is the delay of inevitable. And once you do it often, it becomes a habit.
Consequently, you get dragged into the abyss and things start getting beyond your control.
We don’t really need to strip ourselves naked to get things done as Victor Hugo did, but we need a solid plan to break the cycle.
Let’s get to the action
The 3 – Step Action Plan
Step 1- Reduce the friction of starting.
The guilt and frustration of procrastinating are usually worse than the pain of doing the work. The friction that prevents us from taking action is usually centered around starting the behavior. Once you begin, it’s often less painful to do the work.
It’s important to show up at work. I’m talking about the Power of Habit, Discipline, and attitude.
Let’s take an example
There are two college-going students: Abhishek and Akanksha. Both of them are good at studies. Akanksha plans her study routine before-hand. She divides her time for studies, classes, and fun. She enjoys her journey as a student and often aces her exams with good grades. On the other hand, Abhishek is a rebel. He doesn’t care about following a schedule and spends his semester pursuing different activities which he finds amusing.
On the previous night of exams, Akanksha sleeps peacefully as she’s well prepared, while you can see Abhishek burning the midnight oil. He slogs and gets a good grade too, but he never achieves a good reputation among his professors. Akanksha is the bright kid – the achiever girl, a girl who is well organized and disciplined.
At some point in time, Abhishek will find it really difficult to cope with life and he’ll be the victim of procrastination. Moreover, guilt and desperation of not achieving will over-shadow his zeal for trying out different things. Ultimately he’ll stop taking the first step altogether. He knows he can run a sprint, but he’ll find it really difficult to walk in the long run.
Will power is limited. Utilize it wisely
Moral of the story – When life gives you A’s. Be like Akanksha. Plan your journey boys!
Step 2 – Automate your future Actions
A goal without a plan is just a wish
You’re not heading anywhere without a proper plan.
The first thing you can do right away is visualizing your life.
The key areas of a person’s life are:
So the first step is to rank your key areas on a scale of 10. For example, if you think your professional career is mediocre right now; give it a 5. Now for every area, rate it again where you want to (realistically) take it. Let’s give, for example, 8 to the professional career(aspired).
After you’re done with that highlight the area which needs your most attention.
Write down what it will feel and look like when you achieve your goal in that area.
Before you begin a task, or before you assign a task to someone else, make sure all the necessary resources are available. Ensure there is a clear, actionable plan with reasonable deadlines. Then check in on a regular basis, with yourself or the person you assigned, to make sure things are on schedule and the tools are adequate.
This way, you’ll embark on a journey in the autopilot mode! Full control- no regrets.
Step 3 – Be specific and find real cause/motivation
People often try to pursue dreams in the influence of society, peers or parents. They start the journey but often stop mid-way. It’s really important to run after something that you truly love, what your heart seeks, something that you can do day-long without tiring. Make sure you feel deeply just how important that thing is – and the motivation will follow.
“Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.”
There need to be real consequences for action or a lack of action. Tell your mind that what you’re doing now is important part of something bigger, and remind yourself of that ultimate vision every time you need a boost.
I know that these are mere words, and it may inspire you at the moment but as soon as you leave this page – procrastination will creep in. Given this tendency, we often have to resort to crazy strategies to get things done—like Victor Hugo locking up all of his clothes so he could write a book.
But I believe it is worth it to spend time retrospecting our lives, taking action whenever necessary; the sole condition that your goals are really important to you.
There are tons of self-help books in the market, selling you fake success or guaranteed money-making tips. Mind it – There’s no shortcut to success and making money.
I’m mentioning a few good books if you want to see some real changes in your life. However, books alone cannot change your life – only you can do it.
Below are some affiliate links to a few self-help books. We’ll earn a commission if you buy through these links
- The power of HABIT by Charles Duhigg
2. 7 Habits of highly effective people by Stephen R. Covey
3. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
Hope this post added some meaning to your life. Thanks for reading it 🙂