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by khushboo Begwani

Is it so simple – dream it, believe it, do it?

It usually starts with something seemingly inconsequential, like postponing a diet plan and leaving the laundry for another day. We don’t even realise when this practice of postponing chores becomes a habit and begins impacting our daily life! That book you wanted to write, the mountain you wanted to scale, the symphony you wanted to create turn into aspirations from the distant past and the present is full of regrets. Sound familiar?

This is the evil of procrastination – which slowly creeps and contaminates every part of your life.

AM I A PROCRASTINATOR?

Most of us live two lives. The lived and the unlived. Between the two lies a resistance. It manifests itself as procrastination- the demon which guards us against our dreams.

The good news is your hopes and dreams will remain intact.

The bad news, however, is that they will remain at the level of vague, abstract ideas.

You’ll never say, “I won’t start the diet.” Instead, you’ll say, “I’ll start it, but tomorrow.” That’s where procrastination denies your unlived life a chance to live.

If you check some or even all of these boxes, rest assured that you are a procrastinator.

  1. There is a deadline looming

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You plan to start work today itself. There is no other way you can complete it on time. But, oh no! Your desk is cluttered. So is your house. Cleaning replaces the task meant to be done. You sleep with a sense of accomplishment without having done what you had planned. You find new excuses each day and you are left with just one day left to the deadline. The job is a hurried and filtered down version of what you had planned.

  1. Your gym equipment is collecting dust

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Of course, you’re taking your health seriously! At least you went to the market to buy the latest treadmill.

But it’s just sitting idle and collecting dust.

  1. Facebook defines your mornings

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One quick glance at your Facebook newsfeed and you’ll get on with what’s on your To-do list. Oh wait! Is it 1pm already?

  1. Your friends complain about you being late

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You didn’t work during the day. It’s time for you to step out with your friends, but you have work to do. So you bail out of the plan or turn up terribly late.

  1. You despise the punctual folks

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You receive validation from your peers because they are just like you or even worse.

HOW CAN THAT BE?

When you sacrifice a long-term goal for a short-term pleasure be sure you are procrastinating. Short term gratifications tend to postpone dreams and aspirations until such a day never arrives.

Procrastinators suffer from “temporal myopia” which reduces their ability to see the future as a result of their current choices and behaviours.

Chronic procrastination can be serious with both social and health consequences. Marriages fall apart. People lose their jobs. Depression, anxiety and a general reduction in wellbeing are common results of procrastination.

HOW TO FIX IT?

Procrastination CAN be beaten!

Now that we’ve identified the problem, here’s the solution.

  1. Just do it!

Don’t wait for inspiration. It’s not going to come if you just sit around doing nothing. Get started and the ideas will flow while you work.

  1. Break a long-term goal into sub-goals.

People tend to offset goals they think may require a lot of effort. Does your task at hand look like a mountain? Well, turn it into tiny hillocks. They’re easier to scale and to add to the advantages, you get that sense of accomplishment each time you finish a task.

  1. Reward yourself after achieving each sub-goal

Who doesn’t like rewards? Finish a sub-goal and treat yourself to that TV show episode you were eager to watch, or a catch-up call with a friend, or a chapter of a book you’re reading.

  1. Connect your project to a more valued source

You may be a hell of a writer, but if you don’t possess the motivation to write, your task will remain incomplete and your talent will remain hidden. To garner that motivation, connect your project to something you value greatly- a life goal or some core value.

  1. Create a cost for procrastinating

Identify your sources of distraction and make it difficult for yourself to tap into those sources. For example, if browsing through your Facebook newsfeed is a source of distraction, you should consider tricks like deleting the app for the duration of your project. This will make procrastination a tedious process and will aid in keeping you on track.

  1. Find a reason for why working now is more important than the distraction

Increase the value of your project and reduce the value of your distraction. For example, imagine a situation which gives you an incentive of receiving praise from your colleagues for writing a good piece against making yourself a hot chocolate because it’ll only add to your calorie count.

 

References:

Berkman, Elliot T. 2015. “Why Wait? The Psychological Origins of Procrastination.” Psychology Today.

Hanks, Robert. 2015. “On Putting Things Off.” London Review of Books.

Marano, Hara Estroff. 2003. “Procrastination: Ten Things To Know.” Psychology Today.

Pressfield, Steven. 2002. The War of Art.

Storrs, Carina. 2015. “5 signs you’re procrastinating and how to stop.” CNN. September 7.

Wang, Shirley S. 2015. “To Stop Procrastinating, Start by Getting Involved.” The Wall Street Journal.

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Is it so simple – dream it, believe it, do it?