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Do you ever wonder why procrastinators procrastinate? More importantly, why do you procrastinate? Do you wish you could learn how to avoid procrastination and laziness to get shit done?
Why Procrastinators Procrastinate
Say that 10 times fast!
An important deadline is quickly approaching but you still haven’t started on the project. You are STRESSED!
If you’ve ever felt this way you may wonder why procrastinators procrastinate. It seems crazy when you’re in that moment feeling the stress of needing to get things done. Often there’s a lot riding on your projects, so why do you do this?
I bet you’ve told yourself reasons for why you procrastinate. They likely come with a bunch of name calling. Do you find yourself saying things like “I’m lazy,” “I’m stupid,” “I can’t,” or other really helpful things when you’re under pressure?
How about telling yourself you will “feel like it” later, but not right now. Like some kind of inspiration will strike you?
Well, these things don’t likely speak to why procrastinators procrastinate, nor why you procrastinate. Instead, the real reasons might be one of these:
- Fear of Failure – This seems obvious, but maybe you haven’t started because you feel that whatever you do won’t be good enough, that you will fail.
- Fear of Success – Sometimes procrastination happens because a person is scared that if they succeed it will lead to even more work, that they won’t be able to handle.
- Resistance – According to this amazing book, when working on something important to you, it is normal to feel resistance which leads to procrastination.
- Perfectionism – This is similar to fear of failure because a lot of time people procrastinate because they worry that what they do won’t be good enough. They avoid because they don’t have the perfect plan yet.
- Waiting for The Right Time – Sometimes we wait for the right time to start something. You tell yourself you aren’t feeling it right now but will later. You go with the short term gain of avoidance by thinking you’ll feel differently about doing the task later. The problem is, you’ll never feel like it.
- You Don’t Know Where To Begin mapping out a plan to reach their goals– sometimes people procrastinate because they are overwhelmed by all the steps. Instead of putting a plan in place and , they feel they have to do it all right now, so do nothing.
Solving the Procrastination Puzzle
How many times have you put something aside because you just weren’t feeling it? You tell yourself you’ll get to it later when you have motivation.
There are some things that we need to do that are aversive. We will never feel like it. I thought this was spelled out nicely in a book by Mel Robbins.
When you wait for the magical feeling that you are ready to exercise, ready to clean, ready to eat healthy, ready to write your next blog post…whatever it is…you will NEVER do it. How will you get things done if you wait?
When you find yourself procrastinating on something you can work to solve the procrastination puzzle by asking yourself some question:
- When I think about doing these tasks, what do I feel?
- What thought go through my mind?
- Do I feel fearful about anything?
- What would happen if I was successful?
- What if I fail?
- Is this thing important to me and if so should I just do it?
How Learning Affected Our Tendency to Procrastinate
When we were kids, most of us had a parent or some other adult telling us what to do. You couldn’t get away with not doing your homework or chores because you didn’t feel motivated. You couldn’t just take your socks off and leave them in the middle of the floor. Someone was there with expectations telling you to get your act together.
Your parents may have ensured that you didn’t eat too much sugar or decide to have a bag of potato chips for dinner. They may have encouraged you to get your homework done and take the steps to apply for and go to college.
You grow up and it’s all on you. You have to delay gratification and save money, eat healthy, clean your home, and take the steps necessary to reach your goals. No one is going to do all that for you. At least not without feeling a bit resentful.
You are the one who has to learn how to avoid procrastination and laziness. You are the one that has to get yourself moving, to get started.
It is always going to be easier to take the path of the least resistance and stay right where you are. Reaching for your goals is often going to feel scary. Things like starting exercise or cleaning your house are going to feel aversive. Who wants to do those things? Who wants to get all sweaty and uncomfortable and short of breath?
If you want to stay healthy, you have to do these things.
Get Up and Do It
Mel Robbins came up with this brilliant concept of the 5 second rule, which seems so basic when it is laid out in front of you. Essentially, when you have a thought that you should do something, you count down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and get up and do it! You get things done!
At first I thought this was silly, but it makes a lot of sense. If you have a thought that you should do something, it probably means you are not doing it and maybe you wouldn’t really want to do it if you let yourself think about it any longer. You would probably come up with excuses for why now was not the right time.
Yet, if you distract those thoughts and feelings by counting down from 5, you don’t have time to talk yourself out of it. You don’t have time to listen to your emotions when they try to take over your body.
When you count down, you are redirecting your brain toward action. What comes after 1? Blastoff! You get up and you do the thing.
I get up at 5:00 AM most mornings to go to work. I figure if I get there by 7:30 or 8 I will not get home too late. Yet, one of the first things I was doing in the morning was checking social media, checking email, checking my blog stats, and really wasting time checking things out on my phone before getting ready. I started getting to work at 8:30, even though I was waking up early.
When I read The Five Second Rule I decided to make a change and start getting up at 4:30 and leave by 5:30 so I can get to work by 7:00 AM. This was not an easy change even though it was only a half hour. When my alarm goes off, my first thought is some kind of excuse about why I shouldn’t have to get up early today.
Yet, I do the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and get up. I get to work earlier which allows me to get home earlier. It makes a huge difference in my productivity.
I still struggle with wasting time in the morning but I know what I need to do.
Another way I’ve used the 5 second rule is cleaning my carpet. I thought about doing that for a while now. Yesterday I got out of bed and immediately started the process of cleaning the carpet. I did not let myself talk myself out of it.
Start Focusing on Getting Things Done
Have you felt yourself procrastinating on your next task? Maybe you feel overwhelmed with all the different things you need to accomplish and you just don’t feel like it.
I recommend you go and buy the book here to make the changes you need to make to avoid procrastination and laziness and just get things done. Keeping the rule at your disposal helps you to stay consistent and do what needs to be done.
Of course, if you just wait for the inspiration to strike, it may not, so it continues to be important to have some kind of schedule in place. Block out time when you will work on your goal no matter what. Treat this like you would treat any other important task.
Since you are working for yourself, your brain will try to trick you into putting it off, procrastinating. You can give yourself all kinds of excuses, and of course you might let yourself get away with it.
But then what do you feel like later? I don’t know about you, but I feel like crap. I feel like I let myself down and accomplished nothing. I end up feeling more and more overwhelmed with all I have to do since I didn’t do what I planned to do.
So instead, treat the blocked out times as if they are golden.
For more tips on reaching your goals, especially the big overwhelming ones, check out my post Finally Kick the Habit of Giving Up On Your Dreams.
Marlena is the blogger behind apenandapurpose.com, where she writes about using journaling for self improvement and reaching goals in life and business. Using her experience as a Licensed Psychologist with a Master’s in Business, she teaches people how to break through negative thoughts and fear to do what matters. For more about me read my about page.