Guest Post Introduction:
Ladies and Gentlemen! I want to introduce you to Zen Conqueror, a dear friend of mine who is an exceptional writer and thinker. Zen shares his ideas and wisdom on Discipline, Mental Toughness, and psychology, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to have him here on my blog.
Zen wrote an incredible article on conquering procrastination, so buckle up, prepare your notebook and take notes during the wild ride.
Without further ado, the stage is yours Zen:
“Procrastination”, The silent killer of hopes and dreams. For different reasons, people will avoid and/or put off even the most critical tasks in their life. Instead of handling them in the present, they let the future deal with their problems. This is usually at the cost of increased stress or failure to execute.
Let me ask you this, When have you ever pushed something off until the last second and ended up being glad that you did? When have you ever said to yourself “Boy, I’m sure glad I wasted all that time I could have used”?
Odds are, probably never. But simply saying “Stop doing that” doesn’t help most people, so here are 8 tactics to help you battle against procrastination.
One of the biggest reasons people procrastinate is because they have a hard time breaking inertia. There is an amount of “friction” that is involved in transitioning from rest to action that has to be overcome. This is where most people get stuck, they over-exaggerate in their minds how much effort is required to take action.
Even if it’s something as simple as putting on gym clothes and heading out the door. Because once the person has made it this far, there’s a 99% chance they’re going to make it to the gym. But instead, they can’t get past the “perceived” mountain they’re staring up at that is the friction of getting started.
With all this being said, the best thing we can do is to reduce the friction required to get started. And the easiest way to do that is to prepare in advance.
This can look like lying out your gym clothes the night before so that all you have to do in the morning is get up and put on the clothes. Or, another example would be meal prepping for the week in advance so that you don’t have to prepare your meals every single day. However you choose to approach this, just remember: An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of stress.
News flash: Perfection doesn’t exist and you’re only wasting your time aiming for it.
Don’t be the person who spends your entire life waiting for the perfect moment that will never come. Stop being so afraid of screwing up. In fact, start screwing up as much as possible. You’ll reach your goals and learn a lot more in a shorter amount of time than you ever would waiting for the perfect opportunity.
Ask a novice how many times they’ve messed up and they’ll be able to give you an exact number. Ask a master and they’ll tell you they’ve stopped counting. Here’s the truth: Even if perfect was attainable, it wouldn’t be by waiting for it, it would be from messing up and learning from the mistake over and over again.
This is in the same realm as preparation but on a wider scale. Because no one, and I mean no one, is immune to their environment. We have evolved to be very in tune with the environment that we’re in, it’s one of the reasons we’ve survived as a species this far.
When your external world is a mess, so is your internal world. Set up your environment in a fashion that enhances your ability to perform the work you need to do. Clean your desk, tidy your home, organize your files, etc. This will accomplish two things. First, you’ll gain a lot more mental clarity because your environment isn’t such a mess. Second, it’ll make it a lot easier to physically do that work that you need to do (Have you ever tried to write an article with a cluttered desk? I personally cannot stand it). And you know what both of these help with? Bingo. They reduce the friction required to break inertia.
Trying to do 100 things at once will often result in nothing being accomplished. And even if something is accomplished, it’s probably with subpar effort. Not to mention the fact that multitasking doesn’t even actually exist. You read that right, our brains cannot multitask. What people call multitasking is actually our brain having to switch back and forth between tasks, which it is not inherently good at doing. This is one of the major reasons for procrastination.
This is why it’s much better to focus on one task simultaneously. Not only will your results be better, but you’ll also probably accomplish your list of things to do faster than if you tried to do everything at once. Because it takes our brain a bit to “warm up” to a new task every time it has to switch its focus. This is only exacerbated when trying to multitask because every time it switches tasks it’s forced to go through that lag of “warming up” again.
Another thing that contributes to the “mountain” of friction keeping a person from taking action is the intimidation of how much work they’re going to have to do. Instead of worrying about taking the first step, they’re already imagining the entire journey. This is where the 5-minute rule can be useful to destroy procrastination.
When there’s something you need to do, but you’re wanting to put it off, just commit 5 minutes to it. Once the 5 minutes are up if you still fill like quitting then you can give yourself permission to stop and try again later. But the caveat is that for the 5 minutes, you have to give your full effort towards the task you’re wanting to do. Re-using the example of going to the gym, committing to getting up, putting on your clothes, and getting in your car. If you still feel like not going at that point, you’re free to quit.
Feelings of regret are a waste of time and only hold you back. Yeah, you’ve procrastinated in the past, and you’ll probably do it again. Remember, no one is perfect. Stop identifying with past mistakes. You’ve procrastinated, but there’s no reason you have to be a procrastinator.
I preach daily about building discipline and putting in the work, does that mean I never have my lazy moment? Nope, I still have days where I’m the epitome of laziness, but do I let that hold me back and define me? Hell no. I learn my lesson, let it go, and make sure I do better next time. You’re not a robot, you’re a human being. Remember that whenever you feel guilty about procrastination.
We all have different reasons that the friction that results in procrastination shows up. And each reason may require a different approach to make it past the friction. Using the gym example again, you may not have a hard time going to the gym because you’re lazy, but because you’re embarrassed to work out around other people.
If that’s the case, you could start working out at home or going to a less crowded gym. The point is you need to figure out why it is that you’re procrastinating so that you can figure out what you need to do to reduce the friction that’s keeping you from taking action. Building awareness is a skill that seems to be lost in our modern again, but with practice and a lot of paying attention to how you feel and think, you can start to figure out what it is that’s holding you back.
You are more likely to fulfill a promise or obligation if you make a public statement about it. This is taking advantage of our evolutionarily innate desire to be publicly accepted, which most of the time does more harm than good, but this is an instance where it is useful. And where an advantage can be claimed, make sure you do so.
So, find someone you trust that you wouldn’t want to let down and tell them about your goals. Tell them to hold you accountable and make sure you follow through with it, doing this makes you way more likely to follow through.
Thanks for reading.
If you found value in this post and would like more from me, you can find me on Twitter at @ZenConqueror
As always, thank you for reading!
I’m pretty sure that by now you have a wide range of tools in your possession to completely obliterate procrastination, and I sincerely thank Zen for providing us with such a powerful article.
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