The Best Way to Overcome Procrastination
Hello fellow procrastinator. If you’re reading this article I’m assuming you’re looking for ways to deal with the naughty love child of resistance—procrastination.
Over the years I’ve tried different things to deal with procrastination. I looked at the long list of pending actions and goals, and tried to address any fears, or let go of resistance. I managed to do a few things, but couldn’t sustain the momentum.
So I decided to dig into the true motivations behind procrastination. My thought was: If we can eliminate the root cause, we’ll be able change.
I looked into the deepest reasons for procrastinating and uncovered one of the most common and painful attitudes: self-sabotage. Procrastination was one of the best ways to beat myself up and perpetuate the same self-defeating attitude.
Okay I know why I procrastinate, now what?
Trying to eliminate self-sabotage wasn’t a viable option. It felt vague and overwhelming; I didn’t know where to start.
And I gave up—until recently when an insight came out of one the most trivial acts. What if we found a motivation that is more powerful than the reasons we procrastinate in the first place?
The main idea is this.
Don’t analyze procrastination and why you do it. Find a way to work around it.
How to put this thought into practice is the focus of this article.
What’s the one thing that can help with procrastination?
The answer is quite simple: Look at your values.
We all have different values that reflect what’s important to us. Think of the most important values to you.
What are the things you consider essential to be able to enjoy a meaningful and happy life?
Now we’re going to zoom in closer. Out of all your values, what’s the most important one?
The next question is: How does this chosen value relate to procrastination?
In my personal example, the list of values includes things like freedom, simplicity, and peace of mind. Prioritizing the list, I believe simplicity leads to freedom, which in turn gives me peace.
The essential value, to me, is leading a simple life. And now I’ll share with you how this realization helped immensely with procrastination.
The silly experience that inspired change
A few days back I was procrastinating about putting my summer shoes away—beyond silly really. It’s one pair of shoes that’s been cleaned and ready to be put in a box and stored away. Yet I was constantly nagging myself and forgetting about it.
Then this question came up: Why are you complicating your life for no reason?
And that made me stop and think. Yes, procrastination leads to unnecessary complexity.
As someone who values simplicity, I immediately started thinking of ways to reduce complexity.
This motivation may, or may not, work in every situation. But it sure got me fired up.
When I looked at the day’s tasks, I decided to just do things as soon as possible to simplify, and have more peace at the same time—two values that motivate me more than the payoffs of procrastination.
Upon reflection at the end of the day, I turned the thought into a mantra.
Don’t complicate your life needlessly by procrastinating.
You may not value simplicity as much as I do. But I’m sure you have at least one thing that will get you moving in the right direction. Consider the following examples as a starting point.
What matters most
Simplicity aside, look at the values you hold dear and how procrastination stands in the way.
Here is a list of common values that can provide a strong motivation to stop procrastinating.
Freedom: Procrastination holds us hostage to every unfinished, or un-started, task and project. We can’t feel free when procrastination is controlling our decisions and actions.
A mantra you can use if you value freedom: I choose freedom over procrastination.
Calm and ease: Procrastination means constant worry about the things we need to do. The anxiety keeps growing with every little thing we procrastinate about.
A reminder to not procrastinate can be: Stay calm and don’t procrastinate.
Clarity: When we have so many things taking space in our minds, or lists, our thoughts will be muddled and reactive. We’ll confuse our priorities and actions.
Here is a simple personal mantra: Clarity is born out of action, not procrastination.
Confidence: How can we have confidence in our abilities, when we don’t get things done, and hide behind excuses?
We can’t have faith in our abilities when we don’t take action that proves we can do it.
This is an example of a motivating personal statement: I got this, no procrastination required.
Integrity: Procrastination is the antithesis of integrity. We say a lot, but we do so little. If we value integrity, we need to follow through on our commitments to ourselves and others.
A personal motto can be: I’d rather keep my word than procrastinate.
Peace: How can anyone feel at peace when we have a million things to think and worry about?
Remind yourself of this: I value the peace of mind of taking action more than the comforts of procrastination.
Achievement: Procrastination leads to underachievement. So if we want to feel accomplished, we need to start working on the goals we want to achieve.
A personal reminder can be: Procrastination is the enemy of achievement.
The above examples illustrate how our values are so far removed from procrastination. We can fairly say that we use procrastination as a weapon against ourselves, against our dreams, and against our truth.
As a mindless habit, procrastination can be tough to beat. We don’t need to declare war on this deeply ingrained behavior. We only need to look closely at our reasons for procrastinating and counteract them with truer reasons for wanting to live authentically.
Today can be the day you finally overcome chronic procrastination. No matter what you value, you’ll realize that procrastination doesn’t serve any meaningful purpose.
Procrastination has no place when we choose to lead a value-centered life.