How to Stop Procrastinating for Good
If you are anything like me, you are no stranger to procrastination.
Somehow despite my best intentions, I always end up doing things the last minute.
So how do I stop procrastinating?
There are no shortage of articles outlining strategies for stopping procrastination, and I have tried them all with mixed results.
The problem is they don't tackle the root of procrastination; they just treat the symptoms.
But what is the root of procrastination?
For me it was fear.
Fear I’m not good enough. Fear of judgement from others. Fear of judgement from myself.
But how do we conquer the fear?
I have found two ways of reducing fear in relation to procrastination:
- Lowering expectations,
- and letting go of things you can’t control.
This doesn’t mean you can’t do well on your projects, but when you’re starting, it helps lowering your expectations of the immediate output. Imagine instead of telling yourself that you have to write a perfect essay (which is big and scary), you can tell yourself to just write one bad sentence (small and manageable).
Another way, if the work you have to do is clear, but you still find it difficult to get started, is to control the time you work. Instead of working for 8 hours straight, start with just 20 minutes, and then take a short break. It’s much more manageable.
If you have a lot of things to do and struggling to figure out what to prioritise, it can be helpful to make a todo list of small actionable steps and follow that blindly.
You might notice that these are all the common tips for dealing with procrastination, but understanding that it’s about lowering expectations, and managing fear helps them actually work.
Letting go of things you can’t control
This one is very powerful, but something I still struggle with. Instead of expecting a certain outcome which is outside your control, you can manage your fear by expecting to do your best instead which is inside your control.
This works because it reduces all the worry about something which is ultimately outside your control which for me is the most important reason I procrastinate.
A final thing.
Be patient with yourself. Don’t expect to read this answer and have your procrastination solved. By try to implement it, and you will do a little better before you fall back into your old habits. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It happens every time anyone makes a change in their life. Be patient and try again, and slowly it will become more and more natural.