If you wish to overcome procrastination, it is likely you have noticed this habit holding you back from your greater potential. By sidelining important tasks or disregarding punctuality, we often waste precious time and effort that could be used to fulfill our dreams.
Procrastination is rarely intentional. This habit stems from external and internal factors which, with determination, can be managed to help us stay on course.
Why do we procrastinate?
The word “procrastination” is dually derived from the Latin word procrastinare, which means “to put off until tomorrow,” and the ancient Greek word akrasia, which means “doing something against our better judgment.”
Oftentimes, when we procrastinate, we not only know that we’re avoiding doing something more important, but we’re also aware that procrastinating itself is bad; yet we do it anyway.
“This is why we say that procrastination is essentially irrational,” Dr. Fuschia Sirois, professor of psychology at the University of Sheffield, said. “It doesn’t make sense to do something you know is going to have negative consequences.”
According to Dr. Tim Pychyl, professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, procrastination isn’t a time-management problem, but an “emotion management problem”—a way to adapt to difficult emotions, like boredom or anxiety, during certain tasks.
Meanwhile, procrastinating to avoid such negative emotions ends up making us feel even worse. Our stressed minds cannot help but feel pressured to complete various urgent, yet unimportant tasks in the present rather than tackling the more important things related to our life goals.
How to overcome procrastination
Since is dictated by our emotions, rather than our rationality, simply telling ourselves to stop procrastinating is usually ineffective. Procrastination comes from our state of mind. A few alterations in one’s way of thinking can help anyone overcome procrastination.
Let your ego go
The first step is to drop your ego and get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. Most people don’t like looking foolish, and this protection of their reputation keeps them confined to a limited comfort zone. Such a mindset will hold you back from going the extra mile, and might lead you to push off dreaded, yet important tasks.
“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”Epictetus
Feeling stupid doesn’t mean you are stupid, any more than failing means you are a failure. Each time we mess up we should look for a lesson in the experience. If you can pick yourself up and sort out how you can do better in the future; that is more noble than never having made the mistake.
Every successful person experiences failure before they achieve success. Do not let your ego get the better of you. Be willing to try, and fail, and try again.
Think positively and do your best
A person may live to be one hundred years old, yet we can’t count on it; and even if we are fortunate to live so long, that time is gone in the blink of an eye. We should use every moment to be the best possible version of ourselves.
“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”Marcus Aurelius
Focus on the things that really matter in life—like kindness, honesty, and strength of character—to make the most of every situation. In doing so, you will have fewer regrets and more life-satisfaction, as you sow the seeds of happiness.
Overcome challenges with determination
Anyone can complain about their circumstances and let them hinder their progress. We all encounter injustice and misfortune on a daily basis; it is up to us how we deal with it. Take control of your life and face your challenges rather than grumbling about your situation. Set a high standard for yourself and try to live up to it.
“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?”Epictetus
We are each responsible for our own growth; so don’t blame the world if you get stuck. Look for ways to be a better person and tackle the challenges before you, bypassing the notions of your limited circumstances.
When things don’t appear to be in your favor, remember that you are the only one who can climb the ladder to your success.
Treat failure is your greatest teacher
As mentioned above, failure can be a good motivator, even if it feels terrible to mess up. Do not see failure as the end of the road, but as a tool to help you improve.
As humans, it is natural for us to view failure and mistakes as something negative, and we often dread the humiliation and shame that comes from such a failure. We become fearful of what everyone around us thinks of us.
This fear is often what’s behind procrastination, as it limits us to our comfort zone. Rather than treating failure as an unforgivable fault, treat it as the greatest motivator to become a better person.
When you stumble and fall, don’t beat yourself up further; instead, find out what made you fall. Learn from the experience so you can avoid repeating it in the future.
Put yourself in the driver’s seat on the road to success. It is possible that others will criticize you; but more often, we are our own worst critics. Let go of that mentality and give yourself some encouraging words.
Choose your friends wisely
Have the right people around you and you won’t feel alone. Friends and family are often a great comfort and can help us stay positive and hopeful; yet we should observe their character. If you enjoy the company of those with bad behavior, their unwholesome traits could be passed on to you.
“Other people’s views and troubles can be contagious. Don’t sabotage yourself by unwittingly adopting negative, unproductive attitudes through your associations with others.”Epictetus
Strive to find the right crowd to push you to be your best, while helping you keep a positive and joyful attitude. Procrastination will hold us back if we do not have the will to improve. Knowing that there are good people who support you can give you the strength to move forward when things seem dire.