August 15, 2018

How to Stop Procrastinating and Make Starting Harmless

HOW TO STOP PROCRASTINATING

The "How to Start Anything" checklist

The 10 steps that eliminate the confusion that comes from now knowing how to start!

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Learn how to stop procrastinating in two steps.

Starting can be the most difficult part of any journey. Taking the first step is the most important and most stressful part, even when the step is harmless.

Procrastination is an enemy that keeps us stagnant: we cannot move where we want to go. This is especially awful because the times when procrastination is present are when we

  • Are pursuing goals
  • Making changes towards a better life
  • Need to get something done that we are responsible for
  • Or otherwise doing something that is important to us

Procrastination ranks high on a large list of inanimate enemies that grow in our lives if we are not careful to weed our life garden frequently, and it can ruin your life, keep your progress at bay and cause regret that makes us miserable.

How to stop procrastinating starts with understanding what procrastination is on all levels. Once we do this, we can see that we are not trying to “stop procrastination” but control ourselves so that we “don’t procrastinate”.

How to stop procrastinating occurs in two steps:

  • Understanding what it is, and why we do it
  • Using the right techniques and methods to conquer it quickly

1. Procrastination at a glance

Procrastination is when you postpone or delay some activity you planned on doing.

What causes procrastination

Fear

Fear of not being good enough, fear of failure, fear of being ridiculed, fear of not being able to finish, fear of having too much on our plate.

Perfectionism

  • The need for everything to be perfect, even if it’s something that doesn’t need to be perfect for the entire project to work
  • Not starting because we can’t finish the whole thing or a do an excellent job.
  • Confusing perfection with our own standard instead of the standard that actually applies

Low energy

Lacking the physiological resources to take on the task at hand. Being tired due to lack of rest, or overexertion.

Lack of focus/certainty

Not understanding where we are going because we have no plan. Having no idea of where our actions are taking us, whether or not we are headed in the right direction.

Lack of interest or passion

Feeling underutilized, bored, lackluster, and dull. Not being motivated in some way to do something causes us to not care.

Not prioritizing

Procrastination can be caused by having a to-do list that is too large for us to handle in one day.

Often we place tasks out of order, do not prioritize them by importance based on time, place, circumstance, and efficacy which causes us to accomplish tasks like “taking the dog for a walk” before “fixing the leak in the roof”.

Confusion as to how to start

This one requires training or innate skill, but a solid master plan is a key to being able to start. A master plan is a detailed outline of

  • What is being done
  • How long it will take
  • What the reward/success of it looks like
  • A result based timeframe in between start and finish
  • Strategies for embracing opportunities to advance
  • Methods for avoiding situations that might cause failure
  • And more

A master plan gives us full confidence in our movements because we can see the entire plan right before our eyes.

We have taken the time to think everything through so that when we are confused during our goals pursuit, we can consult the plan, knowing that we took the time to cover all of our bases.

The "How to Start Anything" checklist

The 10 steps that eliminate the confusion that comes from now knowing how to start!

Click or enter your information in the form below to receive it immediately!


You will also be added to THELIFESYNTHESIS email list.

2. Techniques for conquering procrastination

How to stop procrastinating depends on where the procrastination is occurring. Isolate the procrastination and attack it with the appropriate knowledge.

How to stop procrastinating: physiologically

Your brain is designed to keep you from dangerous situations. Which includes anything that

  • Causes you pain
  • Puts you in danger
  • Consumes too much energy
  • Requires tremendous effort

Not having enough energy

Not having enough energy will cause your brain to revolt. Make sure you are well fed because brain sugar and all the stuff you get from food determines your brains idea of how physically and cognitively prepared you are for the task.

No glucose in your brain means procrastination. Also, make sure you are well rested.

Possible danger

Possible danger will cause the physiological symptoms of fear. You know what those are like: you’re staring up at the climbing wall and you feel them.

When something looks dangerous, you start to feel danger.

  • The shakes
  • Nervousness
  • Tense muscles
  • Shallow breathing
  • Tight chest etc

Decide whether or not you are actually in danger. Are you about to start up a mountain, or are you just doing your first public speaking gig?

This will tell you whether or not your fear is merited: genuine vs abnormal fear.

If your fear is genuine, make sure you are prepared and safe. Then adopt the “one foot in front of the other” philosophy.

  1. Divide your task into small chunks
  2. “I only have one more handhold.
  3. Do this all the way up the climbing wall

If your fear is abnormal, shake it off because you have no reason to fear. You might be nervous but what you’re after isn’t going to kill you. So there’s no reason to let the physical symptoms of fear to stop you.

Strenuous effort

A task that requires strenuous effort can easily be stalled. If you know you will be in pain after lifting those weights, you will avoid that pain and procrastinate.

If you know you will be spent and exhausted after finishing that project or knocking out something on your to-do list, you will procrastinate.

How to stop procrastinating when you know something requires strenuous effort is to utilize chunking. The key is to start because procrastination is only your brain thinking it’s gonna suck. It doesn’t fight you while you’re doing it as much.

Try the “5-minute rule”  which is really the “however much time seems harmless and easy” rule.

With this technique, you will tell yourself that you are going to go do “building my raised beds in my garden” for five minutes. Anyone can do that.

After five minutes, give yourself full permission to stop, but you won’t stop, because once you get started, it’s easy to continue.

  1. You will finish your “hard to do” task
  2. Your procrastination will have been defeated.

Building a raised bed in 108-degree temperatures sounds grueling, but only doing it for five minutes isn’t so bad, and that’s the point.

Being procrastination in your brain means to convince your brain that it’s not going to be so bad.

How to stop procrastinating: mentally – intellectually

Abnormal fears

Fear is our natural response to danger. Simply put, people laughing at you might be psychologically disturbing, but it’s not dangerous. Laughter doesn’t kill people, and having to endure other’s ridicule is something we cannot run from.

The only valid fears are fears of actual danger, like being eaten or falling out of an airplane. Everything else is perceived danger, your brain causing the symptoms of fear to occur your body and that’s it.

Understanding that you do not need to necessarily respond to physical changes that occur in your body due to fear is one step closer to stopping procrastination.

Growth is uncomfortable, but once we pass through that our “fears” become our new baseline, and are no longer scary. So if they aren’t to be feared in the long term, you can certainly push through them in the short term.

Perfectionism

Nothing needs to be perfect, it only needs to be effective. Perfectionism is a trait within conscientiousness, which is said to be the number two contributor of success in life.

But that perfectionism is the tendency to make sure everything is as good as it needs to be to succeed.

Whatever we do in life, to be successful, it needs to be up to a certain standard. When it comes to being successful it needs to be effective, or good enough to be successful.

When we place our own standard on something, we can go too far and place more importance on irrelevant details than what’s actually important.

The negative side of perfectionism implies too much extra.

  1. It stops us from starting
  2. It prevents us from implementing

Perfectionism can also manifest as not starting something if we can’t complete it all at once.

The best way to rid ourselves of unnecessary perfectionism is to understand that what we want is to be successful at something, and for that to happen we only need to be effective. Enough is enough, giving more is nice, but unnecessary.

The "How to Start Anything" checklist

The 10 steps that eliminate the confusion that comes from now knowing how to start!

Click or enter your information in the form below to receive it immediately!


You will also be added to THELIFESYNTHESIS email list.

Lack of focus/certainty

When we are uncertain of desired outcomes and the purpose behind our actions, we become confused and procrastinate due to lack of direction.

When at work, we can procrastinate without understanding fully what we’re doing.

And in our personal lives, if we have not mapped out what we’re trying to accomplish we will procrastinate because…we literally don’t know what to do first or after that…

The best way to fight procrastination on this front is to create an effective master plan that details the beginning, middle, and end of whatever it is you are trying to accomplish.

Lack of interest or passion

None of us want to do something we don’t like, but the world is full of sacrifice, so sometimes we do anyway.

But when we are so uninspired by something that we sink into “just not caring at all” plus it requires a ton of effort, there is no way we’re going to start.

Whatever it is will stay on the to-do list forever.

If you are so uninspired by something that you cannot start it because you’re passionless, scrap it. Easy.

Not prioritizing

Often we can fall into the trap of not understanding what gives us the results we want, and we focus on tasks that would be nice to accomplish but do not push us forward.

Having a solid direction, even down to the day, is key when it comes to prioritizing. Knowing what you want as the end result for the day, week or year will help you decide what is important and what can be shelved for a while.

It helps to understand that you will never move as fast toward what you want than by understanding those vital few tasks that will give you the most “forward moving power” and prioritizing them.

Start by understanding what you want. Where do you want to end up, what do you wanna accomplish, where do you wanna go?

  • What tasks are going to get you there fastest?
  • What tasks do you need to accomplish before you can think of starting the other ones?
  • What can you do that will move you four steps forward? Move all the three, two and one step tasks to the back of the line.

Confusion as to how to start

Being confused as to where to start is common and easily fixed. You need a master plan. An effective master plan eliminates all confusion during the entire process.

When you take enough time to create a master plan, you will always have a leg up when it comes to how to stop procrastinating because

  1. You will know your steps beginning middle and end
  2. You will understand how to avoid obstacles and embrace opportunities
  3. Each day you know what progress you need to make and how long it should take you etc
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Brian Wright

I read a lot of books. I learn from a lot of experts. I learn stuff and package it all up for you.

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