The human brain is stubborn and set in its ways. The natural human tendency to continuously evolve is thwarted by the reptilian brain which is resistant to change. This is where the root of procrastination lies; in the brain’s reluctance to exit its comfort zone. The brain is hardwired largely towards instant satisfaction hence why taking a nap, indulging in calorie laden instant foods and zoning out in front of the TV can be such hard habits to break.
If you find yourself procrastinating whenever something important needs to be done such as revising for an exam, going to the gym or resolving relationship conflicts, then it will be useful for you to employ the following 5 strategies.
Just do it!
The Nike slogan is a sure-fire procrastination buster. We procrastinate when we over-think; if you can act before your pesky brain can get in the way then you won’t have time to put yourself off. For example, if you’re always putting off that after work run, have your water bottle filled and your trainers and gear waiting by the door; come home, get changed and go – just like that. Don’t think, don’t analyse, don’t pause – just go. After a while the behaviour will become automatic – you’ll have broken your minds comfort barrier and found a new auto-pilot.
Tackle your barriers
Behind procrastination lie reasons why you are afraid to do what you need to do and locating what they are is pivotal. It could be that you’re afraid to fail, scared of change or feel insecure and unworthy in some way. You’ll find that the source of your procrastination is probably similar across the board. Once you can find the reasoning behind your stuck feeling, you can find ways to push through it.
Break it down into pieces and tackle the largest piece first
Living life via a to-do list is pretty common; it can help to see what you need to do on paper. It gets the deed out of your head and makes it tangible. The mistake most people make is that they make their lists too vague i.e. get a PHD in astrophysics – that’s a pretty overwhelming to-do! Instead, you should break the job into pieces; research learning institutes that offer a PHD in astrophysics, order a prospectus, make visits to 5 universities etc. When possible, the most intimidating or time-consuming job should be completed at the beginning of the day when you have the most energy and motivation; this will also boost confidence and self-esteem and the rest of the day will be far easier.
We are all wired for reward. You can literally train yourself to get things done by rewarding yourself once you complete a designated task. After you’ve revised for one hour, enjoy that cup cake or purchase that new pair of shoes. It doesn’t really matter how you treat yourself, just that you do.
Look for role models
Procrastination can be immediately banished when we feel energized, motivated and inspired by others. You might want to get that beach body but feel lazy until you see others living your dream. Getting that new novel off of the ground is hard work until you speak to successful authors who’ve been there, done it and got the t-shirt. Seek out positive, proactive people who can urge you on.