The first time I attempted to write this article, I procrastinated the hell out of it. While I could lay this one at the Internet’s door, the truth is none of us can blame our procrastination on lolcats or any other productivity poison. People have always struggled with habitual hesitation.“, “We’re actually hard-wired to put off things that our brain considers unpleasant. Blame it on a battle of biology: the limbic system (the older, unconscious, more primal part of our brain) versus the prefrontal cortex (your conscious, rational brain). In this clash of neural Titans, the limbic system wins more often than not. It wants pleasure, the ol’ Hedonist. It’s the same reason it’s so hard to give up cigarettes or sugar.”, “he good thing is that we can harness our rational brain to trick our limbic system into being more controlled. The first step is to acknowledge your procrastination, and that you’re employing Temporal Discounting. This is when we value the present more than the future. As with most things, it was perfectly summed up by Homer Simpson, “That’s a problem for Future Homer. Man, I don’t envy that guy.””, “So here’s how to stop putting things off:
Do The Worst, First
Saving the best ‘til last doesn’t just apply to dessert. If you get the most difficult, onerous task out of the way first, you’ll stop putting it off and won’t have it hanging over you all day like Damocles’ sword. Once that’s done, you’ll get a rewarding rush of dopamine and you’ll want to stay productive to maintain the feeling.
Restart at 2pm
If you had a morning full of faffing, it can knock your confidence and your productivity out of whack for the whole day. It also means you’ll be more likely to put off work until the following day, which will mean an even more intimidating to-do list. Make lunchtime a cut-off point, and start afresh at 2pm. An unproductive morning doesn’t have to mean an unproductive day.
Break It Down
Divide big tasks into smaller parts. You can tick smaller things off your list quickly, while making genuine progress on a big piece of work. Every time you complete something small you’ll get a big dopamine shot into your system and you’ll keep going. That feeling of achievement swiftly becomes addictive.
Create an Audience
Working away by yourself might shield you from prying eyes but it’s much harder to blow something off when you’ve made a commitment to someone. This applies to work and icky tasks in general. Let someone know your plans and have them make you stick to it. Fear of disappointing others is potent stuff.
Race the Clock
Set a timer and race it. Like a timebomb ticking down to the last second, by creating time pressure you’ll be less likely to procrastinate. A good method to use here in the Pomodoro Technique, which was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late ‘80s. It goes like this:“, “Set a task.”, “Set a timer (usually about 25 minutes).”, “Work until the timer rings.”, “Take a break.”, “Set a timer again for a shorter period (about 15 minutes).”, “Work until the timer rings.”, “Take a break.”, “Set a timer again for a shorter period (about 15 minutes).”, “Once you’ve completed four rounds of timed work, take a longer break. Why not give it a try?
Don’t Interrupt Yourself
If you give in to the urge to check Facebook, it’s not the fault of the ever-seductive social network. It’s yours. If you answer the phone and chat away for half an hour, that’s also on you. Don’t interrupt yourself, and really commit to focusing for a short, concentrated period. You can dillydally online, or call the person back when you’re finished.
Plan an Un-Procrastination Day
Yes, I know it’s not a word. Deal with it. Plan for one day a week where you do all the things that you are most likely to put off. Plan it carefully, don’t slack off and just get everything done. That includes things like going to the bank, the doctor or whatever else you’ve been avoiding. Get it all done in one fell swoop and you’ll be free to focus for the rest of the week.“, “You will of course still have days where your work mojo just won’t show up but don’t get in a panic. Remember that you can choose to start focusing at any time you want. And the work will get done. It always does. Just make sure not to leave everything for your Future Self, that poor sucker.
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