How many times have you avoided doing something even though you absolutely knew without a shadow of doubt in your mind that you should do it?
I may be one of the worst procrastinators of all time, and I’m always way more tempted to watch The Walking Dead over writing a new workout program. Even though zombies are cool and all they won’t pay the bills or help me grow.
So when I saw an article in the New Yorker about procrastination it immediately grabbed my attention, and being the nerd that I am I took diligent notes on it. On a side note, I highly recommend signing up for Evernote as it’s one awesome note app.
Here are some of the highlights I took away from the article…
1. The temptation to put it off will be just a strong tomorrow. Quite often when I put things off it’s usually because I don’t feel like doing it the. But in the back of my mind I am irrationally thinking that I’ll somehow be motivated to get it done when tomorrow comes. In reality, I’m going to be just as tempted to sit on the couch and play with my iPad tomorrow than I was today.
2. Make a deal with yourself. Instead of checking Twitter, Facebook and Instagram first try bargaining with yourself that once you finish this big thing that you been putting off you can reward yourself by hanging out on social media as much as you want afterwards. This way you’ll has some light at the end of the tunnel look forward to.
3. Have a deadline. This will may seem pretty obvious, but the power of the deadline is immeasurable. The article had a story of college students who chose to spread out the deadlines of three essays throughout the semester rather than having them all due at the end. They knew they would procrastinate so by thinking long-term they rationalized it would be better to have more frequent deadlines to force them to take action because they didn’t trust themselves.
4. Make bets. If you’re trying to lose weight than a good way to step up your competition is to find a friend is also looking to lose weight and make a bet with them. This will encourage you to put in some extra effort because nobody likes to lose. Also don’t be afraid of a little friendly trash talking as well to liven up the competitive spirit, but no mama jokes.
5. Divide the task into smaller more defined sections. Instead of looking at a project as a huge undertaking try breaking it down into smaller parts. An easy example would be if you’re trying to lose weight first start by eliminating sugars from your diet. Then add in working out for 40 minutes three times per week. Then no more junk food, etc. It’s a lot easier taking things a step at a time than a giant leap.
Our willpower is no doubt very very limited. Even though it’s kind of like a muscle which you can train and get stronger it will always be hard to get things done when he’d rather do something else.
Just yesterday I was watching the 49er game (how the heck did they lose to the Panthers?) when I knew I should wash my car because I’ve been putting it off all week. So I made a deal with myself that I would watch the first half but at halftime I’ll get to work. And it worked.
Try to look at the long-term success you would have instead of going for the short-term relief. We all know we shouldn’t procrastinate but that doesn’t stop us from doing it.
At the end of the day it’s not going to be our teachers, our boss, our parents, our spouses or our friends that will make us take action. It’s going to be up to ourselves.