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How to start working on the idea you were putting off

May 1, 20207 min read

I am a procrastinator. All of us are. Procrastination is something that I was struggling with for a very long period of my life. However, after a lot of self-observation and introspection I’ve ended up to a few advices and tips, that I’ll share with you in a moment, and hopefully, will help you to overcome your procrastination as they did to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I’ve reached the level that I can do whatever my mind dictates to, without postpone it for another day or even never doing so 😅, but at least I’m doing my best.

What is procrastination

By definition is the action of delaying or postponing something. Many people confuse procrastination with laziness. The truth is that we might procrastinate because we feel lazy but this happens only for few times and not repeatedly. Procrastination is just a bad habit and if we follow some specific steps we can break that habit and replace it with a good one.

Procrastination is a symptom

What causes procrastination

1. Instant gratification

We’re looking for instant gratification and not looking for the results that we’ll get on the long term. Because we feel pain when we think about what we have to do that leads us to inaction. A trick is to imagine your future self and most likely that’ll give you motivation and the fuel you need to take action.

2. Low self-esteem and self-confidence

This may sound like strange advice, but lowering your expectations makes you more confident. And believe me, if you feel confident then you’ll automatically develop self-esteem, hence, you’ll be more likely to start working on your idea.

3. Fear of failure

Embrace failure. It’s impossible to succeed without failure. It’s just a stepping stone to your success. Nothing more, nothing less.

4. Paralysis

Nowadays, we get a plethora of information in a daily base. Consequently, we feel overwhelmed of what we have to do dealing with a flood of decisions we have to take. When you over-analyze something it paralyzes you and therefore kills your motivation.

5. Perfectionism

Nothing is perfect. If you pursue to create something flawless and perfect you’ll probably never achieve it. Procrastinators often avoid doing a task that they don’t feel they have the skills to do, than do it “imperfectly”.

Doing something is always better than doing nothing

6. Compare ourselves to others.

If you compare yourself to others you only bring pain in your life. Each one follows their own journey. We have to compare yourself only with your past self. Full stop.

7. Energy levels

Personally, I think this is probably the most important factor that is responsible for procrastination.

They might sound very mundane to you but, believe me, if you put the above in your daily routine and follow them to the letter, then you’ll see a tremendous spike of your energy levels. And here lies the trick.

When you want to achieve anything in your life you must have the appropriate energy. If all your systems of goal setting are falling apart, it’s because you lack energy. And if you lack energy, you procrastinate!

1. Sleep

I know this sounds silly. Most of us we set aside our sleep believing it’s not so important for our body to cope with. And that is a huge mistake. It’s not only a catalytic factor for our body but, also, for our brain. We need 8-9 hours of sleep according to a lot of scientific researches out there. Google is your friend!

2. Eat healthy

Avoid processed food. Increase your protein intake. Take supplements like omega-3 with fish oil, B-12, and multivitamin.

3. Exercise

Not further explanation needed. It’s vital for our life. Even 20’ walking every day is good enough.

4. Psychology

If you feel stressed or whichever negative sentiment it’s very reasonable not to be in the mood of doing anything. My personal advise for this situation is to embrace meditation and put it into your daily routine.

How to overcome procrastination

1. Be mindful and observe that you’re procrastinating

This is the best advice anyone can give you. Not only because it’s very easy to do so but it applies to anything. When we’re able to perceive that something is happening then we’re automatically in a powerful state. Therefore, if you find yourself doing something of the following you know now!

  • Your to-do list has unexpectedly grown
  • Start a high-priority task and then go off to make a coffee (that’s probably me 😂)
  • Doing tasks that you try to convince yourself that are more important than the tasks already on your list
  • Wait to be in “right mood,” or wait for the “right time” to tackle a task

2. Try to identify why you’re procrastinating

You need to understand the reasons why you are procrastinating before you can begin to tackle it.

For instance, are you avoiding a particular task because you find it boring or unpleasant? If so, take steps to get it out of the way quickly, so that you can focus on the aspects of your job that you find more enjoyable.

Many of us believe that when we do something we love then we never face tasks that we don’t want to do. This a huge lie. Of course you’ll have to encounter issues that you might don’t feel like doing them or ever worse not having any clue of how you should do them.

In addition, some people fear success as much as failure. They think that success will lead to them being bombarded with requests to take on more tasks.

Another major cause of procrastination is poor decision-making. If you can’t decide what to do, you’ll likely put off taking action in case you do the wrong thing.

3. Track your progress

Write down your tasks. Use both online and offline tools. Pen and paper is always better for clearing your mind. Supplementarily, use digital tools for better tracking and prioritizing. Keep your to-do lists as simple as you can.

For each task, I’d recommend you to use the pomodoro technique that involves 25 minutes of focused work, 5 minutes break, 25 minutes of work, 5 minutes break, and so on. Sometimes I modify this and follow 45 minutes of focused work and 15 minutes break. It’s totally up to you. I use this app to track my pomodoros and extract useful insights out of them. Highly recommend it!

4. Accountability

Accountability starts with you. Keep yourself accountable. Set goals, achieve them and reward yourself afterwards. Then repeat. If you’d like you can gamify your accountability with your friends by keeping score. Make it fun!

5. Put deadlines

If you take yourself seriously then you should put deadlines. Make them actionable and meaningful and you’ll never miss them. But if you do miss them it’s not the end of the world 😉 Not punish yourself and continue your hard work.

6. Take breaks

Taking breaks is good for your productivity… Really? Yes, really! Taking regular breaks will help you make better decisions. Besides that will help you stay focused over long periods of time and focus is the key to success.

Conclusion

I’ll just finish this article with the following phrase:

We procrastinate until the pain of not doing it becomes greater than the pain of doing it.

If you can relate to that and you don’t do anything, now is your time to start! You got it 💪