Humans are born with the inherent tendency to push task and postpone work. It is no doubt that battle to overcome procrastination and laziness is a sort out information that many who intend to improve their productivity search out to find.
Procrastination can become a big drawback to your success and productivity if appropriate measures are not taken to combat it. The fact you’re reading this guide means there is more than a likely probability that you’re facing this as an issues and you’re ready to make improvement. You’ve taken the first step, congratulations! Now let’s hope you make it to the end of the post.
Procrastination is often regarded as a tag buddy to laziness. While It might not present itself as such at the onset, continuously putting off tasks and waiting to the last minute before breezing your way through will eventual form an habit difficult to crack. This is usually birthed from one main excuse.. “I’ve still got time”
You must have heard yourself repeat this over and over again in your mind and it sometimes appear true at the time. You’ve got a project that would probably take an hour to complete and is required to be turned in by three days time. It would be plausible to think you’ve still got time. After all you have three whole days to get it fixed.
This is often the lie that winds people in this enticing hole of procrastination and laziness. The problem is you think you’ve got time, but really no one does. To overcome procrastination and laziness, you must subdue this lie that is so easily quick to accept.
I personally have also had my fair share in trying to overcome procrastination and laziness and honestly, it is a major battle I constantly fight. While I may not win all the time, I’ve done better over the passing years and I hope to help you do the same. For example, it was a major battle for me to finally put up this post since this guide really doesn’t fall under my favourite topics to write about. But I had to get it done knowing someone out there may be in need of this. Now that brings us to the first step.
How do you overcome procrastination and laziness?
It’s easy to put off a task when we do not ask or consider what we stand to gain by facing it head on at the very moment. Considering and replaying the satisfaction and benefits you stand to gain by choosing to take on a task will put everything in perspective to help you make the right decision (in deciding not to procrastinate).
Also thinking about what you stand to lose and by procrastinating will also be a good method for applying this technique. Thinking about the hurry and stress panic you put yourself psychologically by waiting till the last moment could also serve as a boost to inspire you to get your stuff done on time.
What is the aim of doing this?
The mind is able to make better and effective decisions when placed in a state of visualising long term effect of actions that demand immediate answers. That’s one of the secrete of effective goal setting and a common trait amongst many who have succeeded in this regard.
The moment you visualise and imagine what you aspire to achieve, benefit or gain, the mind is saturated with the needed momentum to conform your entire body into an activation mode needed to appropriate what you’ve visualised.
The most effective way to do this is by applying a principle I learnt from Benjamin Carson’s book titled “Take The Risk” . I choose to call this principle the “W4 questions”.
How do you apply this?
When being drawn to procrastinate and push off a task, ask yourself these four questions.
- What do I stand to gain if I do this task now?
- What do I stand to lose if I do this task now?
- What do I stand to gain if I don’t do this task now?
- What do I stand to lose if I don’t do this task now?
Just before you blow off this technique as useless, I urge you to give it a try. I personally haven’t just used this to overcome procrastination and laziness, but also applied it when making major decisions in my life. It has worked thus far. I’ve shared it with a few close friends who have testified with good reports.
In addition, Benjamin Carson who is the original author of this concept credits this technique to be one of the major determining factors in his incredible success journey to accomplishment.
The key here is to put everything in perspective. The brain is more inclined to make positive decisions when provided with various variety of contrasting options.
Tip 2: Apply the lazy lizard technique
(apologies if the term sounds offensive.. That’s basically the point. I want you to remember it!)
Before I go on to unravel the sweet juices of this technique and how it can probably be the best principle to overcome procrastination and laziness, let me share the background technique on how it got discovered.
Sometime back while standing by an embankment, I noticed a lizard crawl out of some scattered rocks few centimetres away from me. I particularly keyed interest on this particular lizard because it had a different appearance from all others I had seen. It appeared to have shed some part of its scales and moved quite slower than a normal conventional lizard you’re used to. (reference)
You might be thinking… “why the crap are we talking about lizard” what does that have to do with anything?
Well, you must have noticed that this particular animal usually do not move in one straight swift travel. When they walk some distance, they pause and do some push-ups. Basically they break their journey into short distances to gather tenacity, strength and pull some breath.
This ridiculous exhibition has an hidden key lesson that will help you overcome procrastination and laziness.
How does it work?
- Simply break your tasks into smaller chunks.
Whenever you’re confronted with some strenuous task that requires a lot of work, no matter how disciplined you are, you’re bound to likely feel discouraged. This sense of discouragement produces a psychological effect that causes your brain to shift out of neutral balance.
In attempt to regain this balance, the brain would suggest actions you should take to reverse this effect for balance to be restored. That’s where the thoughts of putting off your task triggers in.
The best way to constructively utilize this negative feedback is to convince your brain that you won’t be working on those tasks for long stretch of hours. Rather than thinking about going fully in on a task which would probably take 2-3 hours to complete, consider breaking those long hours into minutes (let’s say 30minutes per session) and take short breaks at regular interval.
When you approach your task this way, your brain won’t be overwhelmed by thoughts of carrying out the hard work which will consequently produce discouragement. On the other hand, this approach produces more motivation to pull through.
Tip 3: Minimize the distractions:
The world is filled with so much rush and hurry that it makes it more difficult today than fifty years ago to commit and pay attention to a given task at hand.
Fifty years ago there were fewer TV shows (if there were any TV at all). There were no such thing as social media buzz neither do people feel pressured to update their Facebook status every now and then to keep up with vague competition. Folks back then didn’t have to upload an Instagram photo to impress people who do not really care nor compete for who has the most followers.
Basically, people were more diligent to their work because they had less stuff demanding their attention, thus producing more productive individuals who were less likely to procrastinate or submit to laziness.
Now back to the typical 21st century, there are so many things that beg for your attention daily and you’d be heading for a lost battle if you try to avoid them or pretend they aren’t there. The best and only practical thing you can do to curtail this problem is to minimize these distractions, because trying to get rid of them is a lost cause.
To overcome procrastination and laziness, many personal development “specialists” would tell you to kill your social media activities and avoid watching TV for the most of your life. Well, you can go by that thought and pretend Facebook, Gmail and Television doesn’t exist and good luck keeping up with civilization.
The only remedy to overcome this problem is to minimise these distractions that constantly battle for your attention.
Here’s how you pull this.
- Schedule a time for your leisure activities:
One of the biggest modern distraction that snatches our time and productive hours is social media. While you may not necessarily want to deactivate your social media accounts, you can limit the amount of time you spend and decide when you do visit such platforms.
If you’re not an online marketer or somehow aren’t using social media for any definite goal or significant aim, I’d suggest you turn off your notifications during the day to avoid being tempted to waste your time (which is a significant portion of your life). You can check your emails and scroll through your news feed at night when you’re done with all your day’s task.
This requires some extent of self-discipline which I’ll teach you how to cultivate later on this post. but if you’ve been reading this article so far, it means you have what it takes to pull this.
- Set a not-to-do list
A to-do list contains a list of all the activities or work you intend to engage in on a particular day.
A lot of people find it difficult to set a “to-do” list especially those battling with procrastination and laziness. After all what is the point of creating a list that you wouldn’t eventually follow through?
But on the reverse, while you may not have a list of activities or important tasks you intend to engage in on a particular day, you can create a list of activities you do not want engage in on that particular day. This is called the not-to-do list. The list contains all the stuff that may serve as distractions to you.
For example, Rather than writing that you would clean your house today, it would be more practical to outline the things/activities that would be a distraction to getting your house cleaned. E.g you can say “I won’t spend more than 2 hours on my phone today”…or ” I won’t spend more than an hour on my computer” .
The intent of the not-to-do list is to unravel and bring out all the distractions that compete for your time and are likely to cause you to procrastinate. When you succeed in bringing them out, you’ve identified the problem and are more likely to effect your daily goals. I will teach you how to set effective goals in the last portion of this guide.
Tip 4: Don’t beat yourself up.
You discovered that you are inclined to procrastinate and are resolute in improving. Good!
You’ve identified procrastination and laziness as a problem you battle with and even when you try to overcome this problem, you still fall short most of the time. When this happens you’re likely to be hard on yourself and beat yourself up for being lax!
This is totally fine if it has worked for you in the past but I doubt the credibility of that (you wouldn’t be here reading this long article for answers if your approach has worked).
Now I recommend an alternative approach to the one you’re accustomed to. Rather than beat yourself up when you procrastinate, instead cheer yourself up by rendering praises to your efforts. Positive words and thoughts are much more effective than any form of motivation steered from being hard on yourself. Become your own encouragement.
Try this technique every time you fall short and in each passing time, you’ll notice some improvement.
Tip 5: Cultivate the habit of self-discipline
Every other technique outlined above cannot be effectively utilized without first building on self-discipline. As a matter of fact, the entire process in trying to overcome procrastination and laziness is 97% hinged on self-discipline, the remaining 3% is based on external factors.
How do you improve your self-discipline to overcome procrastination?
- Master the act of goal setting
Life is bound to throw just anything at you if you do not learn to predetermine what you want. Many individuals stroll throughout life without a definite aim or focus, they have no direction guiding the course of their life that determines how they respond to events.
A life without goals is like shooting at nothing and hitting it every time. Mastering self-discipline to help overcome procrastination and laziness can be actualised by setting effective actionable goals. How?
- Use task cards to organize your work
Task cards are small pieces of paper that contains a daily list of goals you want to accomplish on a particular day.
Since we are trying to overcome procrastination, it would be effective to write down all the tasks you intend to complete today into small chunks of paper (task cards). I suggest you do it now … yes, now! Don’t procrastinate.
Take a blank piece of paper and cut into small rectangular shapes (just like a complimentary card). Create as many chunks you require.
Now write down each of your goals/task you intend to carry out into your task cards and paste them where you’ll see them throughout the day. Probably by your fridge, wardrobe, mirror or anywhere conspicuous.
The reason I came up with this technique is because unlike the normal conventional method of writing goals into large journals, taskcards are small and easily movable. You can carry them where ever you want ( as I normally do) to keep you reminded on the goals/tasks you intend to accomplish on that particular day. This keeps you regularly aware and updated on your goals and gives you a sense of uneasiness until you complete those tasks.
Tear off a task card immediately you’re done with the outlined goal/task. This will stir up some motivation needed to move on to the next task.
Leave a comment below if this information has been helpful and let us know how you deal with procrastination in your daily life.