I have a to-do list of things to do for doing well in my career. I am very enthusiastic about them when I make the list. I feel they are all doable. I am supercharged with what I have to accomplish. However all hell breaks lose when I start executing even one. I over-think and postpone doing it. I feel guilty about myself in the end. How do I stop procrastinating?
A procrastinator is a person who delays or puts things off. There could be many reasons for doing so. There could also be many excuses. However the person has enough self-awareness to know that they didn't do enough to stick to their plans.
Often, the pre-dominant feelings after the lack of action is "guilt", "shame", "regret" and yet they keep repeating the same action as if they are under a spell.
Some of my clients say this is what stops them from being their best. Their question is: how do I become proactive? I don't want to be procrastinating.
Here are some of the questions that would help anyone become conscious of triggers and choice to avoid procrastinating:
What is the benefit you are getting out of procrastinating?
A lack of commitment to an activity can stem from attributing more value to the activity that you do instead. So if you look at what is the benefit you get by not doing the activity in the to-do list - the top of the mind recall will be "nothing". However if you explore further, you can find actual benefits of not doing the "to do" list activity. For eg, if you watch Netflix instead, you are getting entertainment which is possibly one of your needs. The unconscious mind always has a beneficial intention for every action. Its important to figure it consciously. Once you find the benefit - you need to figure alternate ways of realising the same benefit along with doing the activity. For eg: you can reward yourself with Netflix slot on completion of your action.
2. What is most frustrating about the action you need to do?
When someone does not know how to do something - it becomes easier to avoid the action because it looks like enormous work. Bridging the gap about how the action needs to be done and what one knows will help you make the activity easier. So make plans as detailed as possible in short intervals so that you know the task break down.
3. What is not sparking your interest?
While every activity may have some boring elements, if you perceive an activity to be totalling boring, its going to interfere with your motivation to complete it. One way to ward off this is to make it interesting for you by reducing the time you do an activity or by making it interesting by adding elements to it. Some people listen to music while doing activities they don't like. Some treat themselves after it. Some turn it into a habit stacking routine. Some focus really well and get done with it. Do what works for you.
4. What is the granularity of time you are comfortable doing the activity?
If you are highly distracted and focus is your issue/ you think the activity is boring - the Pomodoro is a great technique to actually overcome both. You do one kind of activity for just 25 mins and iterate with different kinds of activity for 2 hours. Doing at least one Pomodoro a day will keep you more focussed and proactive.
My favourite is Pomodoro technique. What is yours?