Procrastination. That little song and dance we do with ourselves where we promise that we'll have more time tomorrow, we'll get to it next week. If you find yourself doing this song and dance a little too often, it's time to get honest with yourself.
Procrastination comes from our struggle with self-control as well as our inability to accurately predict how we'll feel in the future. "I don't feel like it" takes precedence over goals; however, it can easily turn into a downward spiral of negative emotions that deter future effort. If procrastinating makes you doubt yourself and become depressed, and depression notoriously makes people procrastinate, then you can wind up with some serious attitude problems quickly without realizing where they started.
Procrastinators may say they perform better under pressure, but more often than not, that's their way of rationalizing a bad habit.
The bright side? It's possible to overcome procrastination—with effort. Perfectionists are often procrastinators; it is psychologically more acceptable to never tackle a task than to face the possibility of falling short on performance.
To feel confident in life, you have to feel in control of it, and procrastination makes a person feel like they can't control the one thing they ought to be able to control: themselves.
If any of this sounds like a problem for you, read on for Team NeuroGum's five favourite tips for beating procrastination.
Often we don't start work on a task because it seems too big, or otherwise overwhelming. It's natural to get intimidated in the face of a huge task, so instead of dealing with it all at once, you can help your brain settle down by breaking the huge task into smaller, accomplishable tasks.
What we're doing here is setting goals that sound easy. The procrastinator is typically looking for an easy method, and putting something off is the easiest method of all. So by making the big task into a little task, it becomes less tempting to push it backward to a later time.
Work With A Buddy
If you're the type that procrastinates when they are alone, or do better when you have moral support, then you may want to consider setting goals with a friend. In particular, you should set those goals with a friend you know to be someone who follows through on what they say they're going to do.
Maybe you don't have the same goals as a friend, but you can still find a way to work together and encourage each other. Pick a project night where you hang out together and work on your own projects. Then at least when you get stuck with something, you don't have to give up or put it off until later, you can pick your friend's brain.
Tell People What You Are Doing
Everyone hates being embarrassed. You can use this against yourself by being vocal when setting a new goal. Tell everyone what you're doing. Not only will you feel an increased sense of pressure to complete your task and avoid shame with your reputation at stake, you'll also get the benefit of your friends, family, or coworkers' encouragement. Maybe even their help!
Telling people what you're working on helps in another way as well, which is that it makes it easier to tell those people no when they try to distract you from accomplishing your goals, or putting off a task. When we don't talk about what we need to get done, others often assume this means we have free time during which to tempt us with fun, or ask for your help with their projects instead.
Own your goals, and you will feel less willing to put them off until later.
Change Your Environment
When we try to get work done in our homes, or even in a busy office surrounded by others, we may be sabotaging ourselves with the ample amounts of distractions and alternative activities. Remember how much easier it was to work when you used to do it in a library in school? Everything else was so boring that it made doing the work all you wanted to do so you could get out of there.
Why not do the same as an adult? Pick a spot where the only thing to do is work. And then only work there from now on. Don't play on your phone, don't talk on your phone, don't watch YouTube. Defining your workspace is almost as important as what you put into it.
The libraries are open to the public, if you can't find or afford another workspace. You might be surprised how much a library can encourage you to get productive.
The Rewards System
Alright you big baby, not enough bells and whistles on those techniques? Not tempting enough?
Then put your favourite things behind your goals. No In-N-Out burger until you finish your taxes. No ice cream until the house is clean.
I suppose that's a rather negative way of putting it, but you get what I mean. Promise yourself a reward after you complete a task. Better yet, give your friend some money to reward you with, so you can't back out. You gotta earn that money back. Get creative with it, it'll be motivating and fun.
Now if those five methods aren't enough to motivate you to stop putting off tasks until later, then I've only got one more suggestion:
We also created the world's first sugar-free nootropic energy gum that utilizes the effects of caffeine and L-theanine, made to help you optimize your mind — anywhere, anytime. Find out more here.