We all do it. At some point during the day, we put something off for later.Due to restraints in time, restraints in resources, or restraints in our own will to do something, tasks are moved around, marked as unimportant, or dissolved altogether to make room for other, seemingly more important tasks.
Little do we know how much trouble we are causing for ourselves. Procrastination is a beast that is never satisfied with what you feed it.
I experience a struggle with procrastination every single day of my life. No matter how hard I try, there’s always a temptation to put things off for later. Small tasks, medium-sized projects, even large issues – I tend to sweep them all around and hope I come across them at a later point in time when I have more time/resources to deal with them.
I think I can honestly say that procrastination is one of my greater weaknesses, and I know I’m not alone in this.
Procrastination, on the surface, can seem somewhat harmless. We’re just shifting tasks aside to do later, right?
Procrastination is a potent poison that can rob us of our dreams and goals. Procrastination can lead to complacency, which in turn leads to more procrastination. Important tasks or goals that can lead us to our life goals and dreams are neglected because we don’t think they are important. But each task and goal is a stepping stone, each one adds a little bit of yeast to the whole dough, so in the end, we achieve our vision.
In essence, I think most of us blow off procrastination because we think each time we put something off, it’s insignificant. But it’s not. Each little task that’s neglected is a smaller part of the bigger whole.
What causes us to procrastinate? It’s easy to say laziness, as that’s probably one of the more obvious reasons for someone to put off today what can be done tomorrow (or never). But I don’t think it’s just laziness that causes us to wrongly prioritize a task, project, or issue. I think lack of resources, issues prioritizing, and even general lack of interest cause us to shift important items around to make room for more ‘pressing’ matters.
So then, if we all procrastinate, and if procrastination is so easy, how do we overcome this poison that seeks to keep us bolted to where we’re at in life?
List Daily/Monthly/Yearly Tasks
Making a simple list of tasks is the first step in conquering procrastination. I’m a visual person, and being so, I tend to get more concrete vision of my goals and my projects when I am able to ‘see’ the steps leading to them. You can use Post-It notes, a common notebook, or even a digital program (like Asana.com) to keep track of what you need to accomplish in a day.
Of course, creating a list can backfire on you if you don’t prioritize the tasks and the list itself…
Establish The Importance Of Tasks
There are many tasks that we indulge in day-to-day that have no real significance in the grand scheme of things. But there are other tasks that are vital to getting us to where we want to be in life. The problem is, we tend to get these two types mixed up quite often.
With a list of daily tasks in hand, prioritize the list. The easiest way to determine if a task is important or not is to ask yourself if it will help lead you to your overall goal. If your goal is to lose weight, then daily exercise is an important task. But finishing that episode of Bones is not. If you’re trying to finish the next blockbuster novel, completing the first draft of chapter six is an important goal. Sweeping the kitchen is not. Not really. Yes, chores are important, but don’t make them the distraction from your more productive and important goals.
Of course, setting goals and completing them is a reward in itself, but it’s nice to gain rewards along the way…
Someday down the line, when you’ve finally lost fifty pounds or published that blockbuster novel, you’ll feel warm and fuzzy and victorious over what you’ve accomplished. But that won’t really help you now, not on the dark, lonely nights when you feel like you’re fighting by yourself to achieve goals that only you believe in. It’s nice to get encouragement from others, but it’s also nice to have a reward system set up to keep you motivated.
Make a list of basic things you enjoy in life. That season of Bones? Put it on the list. Maybe you get high off sweeping the kitchen. Let’s put that on there too. A bar of chocolate? A night off from project tasks? Things you enjoy can be used to motivate you to get done what needs to be done. Set up a realistic reward system and keep it going to keep you motivated.
Of course, rewards can’t always work on their own…
Surround Yourself With Support/Accountability
Remember those dark, lonely nights when we ‘feel’ like we don’t have support or encouragement from others? Most times, that’s all in our imagination. We get stuck in a moment and we feel like we’re on our own. There are times we actually are on our own, and it’s those times we need to encourage ourselves (which is one of the hardest things to do), but our goal should be to surround ourselves with others who can both encourage us and help keep us accountable.
Allow these supporters to speak into your life, allow them to hold you accountable, and allow them to harass you if you’re not up to par on keeping your tasks prioritized correctly.
You can beat this. We can beat this. Take a step back, see the forest for the procrastinative trees, and get to work on properly prioritizing your daily/monthly/lifelong tasks and goals.