How to break the bad habit of procrastination?
Hi there, thank you for reading this article.
Of course “how do I stop procrastinating” is the question of the century.
In this article, I want to share a few things I really think we all should know about as to why so many of us, no matter how we try to break this habit, it doesn’t work, and we find ourselves spinning back to where we have always been.
First, I want to be straight up with you and tell you like it is. This article is not meant for everyone obviously. Failure in life is an unfortunate reality, but it is inevitable.
Some persons are simply conditioned to fail. These people, no matter how much information they receive, no matter how much you try to help them, they will always find ways to fail.
Our lives are a bundle of habits. From how we sleep, eat, stand, talk, laugh etc. Mostly about 90 percent of the things we do are ingrained in our habits.
Also, our successes in life are born by certain habit, similarly as our failures are the result of certain habits we have allowed to take permanence over time.
In my own opinion, it’s not a question of “how to stop procrastination” but “why do we have to stop it?”
Let’s be honest with ourselves first, a proc (someone that procrastinates) may find the conditions in his life not the way he wants it to be, and may express part of his discomfort by seeking out information on how to change his life.
However, seeking knowledge is one thing, taking on it is another. The same reason he has always been a proc will kick in again, making him procrastinate on the actions he needs to take.
Such a person needs to come to the realization of what he really wants, and the rituals he needs to take.
Without have a clear image of what he wants to do, and having a solid idea why he wants to do it, it is really difficult to break some habits that may act as obstacles, and stop him from reaching where he wants to go.
As a guy that never liked school, I always found myself putting off an assignment that needed to be tackled, shifting study time etc. Until it came few days to the exam, and there was no time left to study the things I know I should have.
Looking back now, I can detect a very strong reason for my procrastinating: First, I never liked school, to be honest, so the motivation to study for exams and other things was very low. As humans, we tend to be more engaged and motivated towards things we feel highly passionate about, for example, I would never go a day without exercising my body.
The way our brains are wired, we tend to do more of the things we enjoy doing, simply because our actions literally program our brain to be better at what we do. This is known as neuroplasticity.
If done right, we can program our brains to break the habit of procrastinating.
First, decide what you want to do, and why you want to do it. For example, if what you want to do is to give your momma a better life, maybe because you love her so much and you think you can provide more for her, then you know you are not going to be able to do it without a war. First, you will need to change your old beliefs and behaviors. For freedom is preceded by war.
By deciding on what you want to do, why you want it, you find an increased emotional strength, which empowers you to take necessary actions regardless of what they might cost you.
Next, is by taking baby steps. Keep in mind that, habits are hardcoded and are not very easy to change. If it was, then most people will be in better shape.
By realizing this fact, and understanding the basic plastic features of the brain, we recognize the importance of taking baby steps.
Taking baby steps is actually a process of setting the groundwork for change. Most people want to break the bad habit of procrastinating but have not made the necessary preparations to actually help the brain stop it.
Don’t forget, the brain finds it entirely stressful and exhausting to engage in an entirely new activity so it will be a long uphill battle if you try to implement such change all at once without taking gradual steps. It’s just like asking someone who has never swum before to deep his face inside the water.
One thing you should note is that, during the entire process of making change, do not be harsh on yourself. Most times when we are trying to get better, we tend to condemn ourselves the more when we are not performing to our full expectation.
So, calm down, take it easy on yourself. Visualize the possible outcome you want to experience, and know that it is going to take gradual steps to actually make the change happen.
Breaking procrastination by taking baby steps is like going to the gym and building the muscles. If you have never used the gym or you are just starting out, you are not going to start noticing a change in your physical appearance the first few days to use the gym.
It takes a gradual step by step process, usually months, to see real change happening. Likewise, when we try to develop new parts of the brain. By taking little steps consistently, we build up mental muscles much like we build physical muscles.
By overcoming the habit of procrastinating minor and mundane tasks, mental capacities begin to develop its muscles. Let’s say you intend to take the trash out of the kitchen by 7am(as mundane as it may sound). Once it is time, actually take it out.
Do not buy any reason that will make you not want to take it out. Even so, it doesn’t end there. After taking it out, acknowledge it. Let yourself know you did what you said you were going to do. Reward yourself appropriately by accomplishing such a minor task.
By doing so, you are creating a new neural pathway in your brain. By actually training yourself to fulfill the little tasks every day, you prepare yourself to further take on bigger and more important challenging tasks.
Breaking the habit of procrastination doesn’t happen by chance, it happens when there is a strong reason for what you want to do. And from there taking necessary baby steps to prepare your brain for the change to come.
From taking the necessary baby steps to overcome the habit of procrastinating, we can actually take the game to a whole new level. We can harness our own habit of procrastination to uncover more of our innate potential.
Without rainfall, we would not value sunshine. Similarly, without the habit of procrastinating, we would not realize how much we can get done. Unfortunately, only a few people learn to harness this habit.
Follow the following steps to not only overcome procrastination but also, to learn more about yourself and what you can actually accomplish in life.
More Steps On How to Defeat The Unfriendly Monster.
1. Know Thy Self.
What are your reasons for procrastinating? What little voice do you keep hearing in your head as to why you should neglect important things and do them later?
Sometimes, by analyzing our own lives, we tend to understand more about ourselves. Often, things we never knew about.
If we make a study of our own habits, then we can ask ourselves questions that help us uncover more of the subtle things happening every now and then that we do not know about.
For example, listen to the things you tell yourself the next time you are in the middle of procrastination: its always something that sounds like crap. “I can’t handle that project now, I feel too tired. I need to get some sleep.” “I am supposed to wake up and exercise today, but I feel too sleepy, I will try my best tomorrow to get up on time” blablabla
By making a study of the responses and feedbacks we keep giving ourselves, we learn that we are actually responsible for most of the troubles we go through in life. Keep in mind that every word we say to ourselves, whether in the form of a feedback or affirmation, are like computer programs that run once installed. Similarly, our thoughts and words serve as mental programs that not only affects how our brains work, but it determines what we experience in life to a large extent.
These flimsy reasons we keep giving ourselves for not wanting to take action not only deprives us from taking steps to better our lives, it also does something more to us: it conditions us to act in certain ways more often.
To deal with the habit of procrastinating, we must learn to change the negative voices in our head as to why we cannot do something meaningful and important at the right time. That is, we must begin to pay attention to what we are telling ourselves in our own minds.
It is true that the mind does not care what is planted in it, much like the soil doesn’t care what is planted in it. So, one thing we can do is to plant in our minds new thoughts and ideas about what we want in life.
It’s like planting a seed and nurturing it. We all know it will definitely grow right?
For example, if we want to be more disciplined, then we can begin by planting the idea of self-discipline in our minds, telling ourselves often enough I am disciplined, I always get things done.
The more we repeat the positive words and thoughts, the quicker they begin to take root and starts to develop in us.
So, our primary goal here is to always catch ourselves every time we try to escape the important things we need to do by giving negative excuses about our capability to get things done.
Once we catch a negative response, the next thing to do immediately is to change it instantly, never allowing it to spread through our minds.
2. Commit Yourself To Daily Action.
Set daily goals for yourself. Remember, No matter how small they are.
Set your goals and include time limits to which you must get your tasks done.
It could be doing your laundry from 7:30am—8:00am, exercising from 5:30am—6:30am.
No matter what your goals are, begin your exercise by setting minor goals you can handle, just like we talked about earlier. Take baby steps, do not go overboard and make a list of all the things you need to do, because you will end up pushing them off.
Set little goals, goals that you have the ability to handle.
A word of caution here: Sometimes, you don’t feel like doing the things you have committed yourself to do. This is where self-discipline and integrity come into play.
Your ability to do the things you said you will do, long after the feeling to do it is gone. This one ability will help you reprogram your brain and conquer procrastination.
It will prepare you for the future when the time comes and opportunities present themselves to you. This is because, by conditioning your brain to take up an easy challenge, it becomes easier to try more challenging goals.
3. Develop Self-discipline.
Again, self-discipline is the key to living a productive life.
As emotional creatures, we tend to do things regarding how we feel about them. We tend to do things according to what we feel.
So, if we feel good today about going to the gym tomorrow, by tomorrow, we find ourselves actually in the gym. But, what about the days we just don’t feel like it? What happens on the days when the motivations are not there?
Well, most people will have to wait until they are in the mood before they can do the work.
Understand that emotions are temporary. They come and go. Today you might feel like it, but by tomorrow, the feeling is gone.
Will you wait to be in a good mood before acting on things you know are important?
The only way to solve this is to actually resolve and convince yourself that whether or not you are in the mood to get something done, you will get it done, regardless.
The reason most people procrastinate is, they tell themselves they are going to do stuff, and then when the time comes to actually do it, the feeling is no longer there, and then they are prompted to extend it to a later time when they might be in the mood again.
Understand this when you commit to getting things done: Your feelings will always change but do not let it matter. Just do it.
This mental attitude alone can change the way your brain works because by training yourself to get things done, you only become even better at it.
4. Practice Positive Self-Talks.
Never tell yourself, “I don’t think I can do this now” or “It’s not possible to do it now.”
Banish negative self-talk. It’s costing you more than you know.
Your brain is a super-computer, and your thoughts and words are programs it runs on.
Program it with negative self-talk, and it does its magical computation bringing you negative experiences. Plant in positive self-talk and it brings you positive life experiences.
Every thought you think, every word you say to yourself creates your self-concept. Your self-concept is the bundle of beliefs about your self, stored in your subconscious or higher mind, so if you say “I can’t do this now” or “it’s impossible to do this,” you are absolutely right. It because you already believe you can’t, and that is what the brain works with: your self-image.
Your brain will do the things you believe you can do, and never attempt the things you believe you can’t since it doesn’t like to be stressed trying out new things.
This is the beginning of failure in people’s lives. They program their brains with the belief that they can’t do this or they can’t do that, that this is too difficult, I’ve never done this before blah blah blah. Unknowing to them that they are only serving the brain the right instruments or raw materials to work with.
Feed your mind with empowering beliefs. Beliefs that anything is possible for you. That you can do anything you set yourself to do. Feed your mind daily with this thoughts until it becomes a deep-rooted belief.
These self-talks will program your brain to recognize difficulties and challenges as an interesting part of this game of life. Tell yourself all the time: challenges are my friend.
5. Develop Your Learning Ability.
“The four most important things in life is: live, love, learn and leave a legacy.”
All of life is a continuous process of learning. Learning about life, learning about yourself, learning a new skill, learning from an experience etc.
“The man who is not learning every day is really not living, though he may be alive.” — Alex
Develop the habit of continuous learning. Learn from any and everything. From your experiences, from people’s experiences, including learning new skills and interests. Make your life an exciting adventure and not a bore.
Another reason people fail in life is this: they think they have to know it all before engaging in an act of importance. So they tend to not do the important things because they think they don’t know how to do it.
A wise man realizes that success and failure go together.
When you fail, try another approach, keep trying until you find a way that works. There will be no light without darkness. There will be no success without failure. You don’t even need to know it all before beginning. Start out from where you are, with what you have, and learn as you go.
Keep learning and keep growing.
6. Reward Your Effort.
After completing an important task, give yourself a treat, you deserve it.
Your brain loves rewarding activities. The mesolimbic dopamine pathway is thought to play a primary role in the reward system. It connects the ventral tegmental area (VTA), one of the principal dopamine-producing areas in the brain, with the nucleus accumbens, an area found in the ventral striatum that is strongly associated with motivation and reward.
Take a walk with your dog, do something fun. Puff some smoke in the air if you love to.
Enjoy your life while learning and growing. Life is much more enjoyable when there is a lot of interesting and exciting things taking place.
Developing the habit of rewarding yourself after successful completion of tasks will not only make you feel better, it will also condition you to get more things done in the future.
Procrastination can be a good influence in our lives, depending on how we interpret it. It can actually make us better, by learning to procrastinate the unimportant things and getting the important things done.
Choosing to see a Netflix movie later so you can get an important task done is a positive effect of procrastination.
Unfortunately, most of us will rather postpone the important things and then expend our energies in doing the unimportant things.
Breaking this habit begins by taking baby steps. Developing self-discipline to do little things, until, those little things begin to turn to major things, and you find yourself in the habit of getting things done.
Go through the steps above, don’t forget, you cannot begin to implement the whole idea all at once, however, begin by cultivating one that you choose to practice first and go with that.
I hope this article has inspired you, and don’t forget to kindly share your thoughts with us if you have any suggestions.
If you do have any question or something you need to find help with, just leave a comment below and we will get back to you.
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Thanks once again for your time, and have a great time. Bye Bye!