“Happy the man, and happy he alone. He, who can call today his own. He who secure within can say tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today”
– John Dryden
To be honest, we can all find a hundred reasons why it is best to do something “tomorrow,” and that includes my humble self here.
It is perfectly alright to hold off your decisions until a later day. No one would claim they haven’t done that at one time or the other. The only time it should become a concern however is when you let this habit of putting things off run away with you.
When you do this as if it were a reflex action. At that point you’d have become a “pro” at something so “crass” that someone would really need to step in and help you overcome the “nature.” (Isn’t my pun here just funny?) It then becomes “procrassnature” forget the missing “T” (It’s a play on words!). My new coinage “procrassnature” would then stand for an “unrefined professional in nature.”
That is something even you should dread becoming. Is this habit causing you much frustration? Worry no more, because today is the day when you’ll eventually rid your life of this self-defeating habit. Here is how to break the jinx of procrastination.
(1) Always Begin With Your Bigger Goals.
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day”
– Mark Twain
Have you ever wondered why you procrastinate so much a lot of the time? It is because you can’t man up enough to begin with your most intimidating tasks. That then makes it okay for you to keep procrastinating in perpetuity. It is more like showing up at a shop in Africa with a notice reading “no credit today.”
Then you leave thinking it might read differently “tomorrow.” Only to find it the same the following day. The point is, things don’t always get better “tomorrow.” If you can’t do it today, there is an off chance you could pull it off tomorrow, which is why you should break your goals down and start with the biggest one.
Starting with your bigger goals will help you get over any dread you might have for them. And once those big goals are out of the way, the others will seem far less difficult to accomplish. This is one sure way to beat procrastination. Always begin with your biggest tasks each day, and you’ll create the momentum and motivation you need to go on to complete the rest.
(2) Set Realistic Goals
That low man seeks a little thing to do, sees it and does it
This high man, with a great thing to pursue,
Dies ere he knows it.
That low man goes adding one to one, his hundred’s soon hit
This high man, aiming at a million, misses an unit.
– Robert Browning.
Setting realistic goals isn’t only a surefire strategy for success in life, but it can help you beat procrastination as well. You can’t possibly want your finger on every pie and still manage to be an effective time manager. Tell you what, you will get zilch! Stop setting goals that are as high as the skies. You’ll dread them. Instead settle with a few and then make additions as you go along.
For most people, trying to accomplish all of their goals at once seems like a great approach for getting more work done. But in reality, trying do too much at once makes your tasks look way scarier and leads you to procrastination. Don’t mind telling you, but I’ve once fallen into this temptation of trying to outdo myself and it turned me into a procrastinator.
That was back in my student days, when I’d set myself an objective, say, reading a rather voluminous academic text. Instead of setting a realistic target of reading a certain number of pages per day, I’d start out to read the entire bulk in just a day. And as you might expect, I couldn’t open the book, let alone turn over a single page in a whole month.
Whenever I picked up it up to read, the sheer number of pages I had undertaken to read scared me off. I grew cold feet and kept putting it off. This same episode replayed itself over and over again until I finally realized the absurdity of my approach. I changed it and instead settled for ten pages a day. And boy how it worked! To cut the long story short, not only did I meet my daily target, but I was spurred to add more pages each day and in no time, I had finished the book. That experience taught me an unforgettable lesson about procrastination. “Never bite off more than you can chew” with your goals or you’ll never get them done.
(3) Enforce External Discipline
Overcoming procrastination isn’t something you do in isolation. Unless of course you are super-disciplined, in which case you wouldn’t be reading this article. To overcome procrastination by enforcing external discipline, you must be really prepared to part with something.
Try striking a pact with someone whom you can be accountable to for getting things done. Each time you procrastinate, let them have some of your hard earned money. The very picture of thought of someone spending your dough should spur you to action.
(4) Have A To-do List
Personally I work with to-do lists a lot because it keeps my goals within reach as I go about my day. And I’ve also discovered it’s an effective time management tip to beat procrastination. Having a to-do helps you organize your tasks by importance so you can prioritize the more pressing ones. Likewise, having a to-do is a great remedy for forgetting goals when you set them.
For a long time I struggled to keep pace with the flurry of tasks I had to get done each day. Usually, having so many things needing my attention all at the same time meant I was either disorganized or partial in my execution because some ended up sleeping right out of my mind.
But once I got down to putting them in list forms, never once did I miss out on my goals. So keeping a to-do will leave you always with a sense of direction and help you mind-map your tasks so you never miss out on a thing.
(5) Reward Yourself
Reward yourself each time you finish a task no matter how little it is. May be a little pat on the back or a high five (I’m assuming you get the joke). Be a good boy or girl and get yourself a little gift sometimes for following through on your goals. Doing this will work wonders and help you build a healthy self-esteem, believe me. Do this as often.