Four Step Process on How to Solve Procrastination

Sep 16, 2013 -

Procrastination is not something we are born with, but learned. Psychologists believe it originates from early childhood experiences. One cause of procrastination arises from controlling parents, whereby because of the controlling nature of parents, children fail to learn how to internalize their own intentions and act on them.

In some cases, procrastination is a form of rebellion. As a kid, how often did you refuse to do what your parents told you to do? For example, they might tell you to go clean your room. Of course, you would put on a grumpy face and refuse to do it until your parents decided on an even harsher punishment. You develop procrastination habits early on in life and they will eventually follow you throughout life until you decide to make a concerned effort to break the habit. 

Step 1 - Define your tasks to be completed

Be clear in defining what needs to be accomplished in your task. For example, suppose you have an e-commerce website that you have been putting off creating. First, figure out what the website is going to be selling, the basic layout and design, and your idea of what content you plan to put on it. 

What you want to avoid is initially getting too much in the details of the task by being overly specific in what needs to get done. For example, if you start diving into all the details of the website including how to get testimonials, pictures, and promoting the site you are getting ahead of yourself. By doing this you could potentially overwhelm yourself and as a result will be less motivated to work towards task completion. 

Step 2 - Determine a way to measure the completion of the task

In project management, milestones are set at each juncture. Find a way to measure the "project completion" of the task. For example, suppose you made it a goal to lose 20 pounds. Breakup the goal into first losing 5 pounds, then ten and then finally twenty pounds. Measurement is a good form of motivation because it gives you some kind of feedback on if you are making progress or not. Whereas, should you just say you are going to lose weight, you are more likely to brush it off than when you set distinct levels. The key is to make your project or task like a video or board game with milestones. 

Step 3 - Set a deadline

With procrastination, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is the lack of urgency. We feel as if we can always do it tomorrow, so that's what we do. We put it off till tomorrow. We think we have a lot of time, but we really don't. With a deadline, this will help you plan out what you need to do on a day to day basis. Setting a deadline will also force you to take action. How many all-nighters did you pull on the week before your big college paper was due? I'd imagine you probably worked the hardest the days leading up to when your paper was due. Set a deadline, you'll get it done quicker. 

Step 4 - Hold yourself accountable

While a deadline is great, the most important thing is that you are held accountable. If you miss the deadline make sure there will be consequences. Also, the consequences need to be things or experiences that you'd rather not have happen to you. Be it monetary, experienced-based, or whatever you like (or rather dislike). 

One way of holding yourself accountable is by putting money on the project or task you would like to complete. This could mean you find a trusting friend to hold say a hundred dollars until you finish that task. If  you miss the deadline, he or she will donate it to your least favorite charity. The fear of losing that hundred dollars or whatever meaningful amount to you to your least favorite charity should motivate you to work towards your cause. The key is making that consequence meaningful enough where it will motivate you to finish that task or hit that goal. For example, if you hand your friend five dollars to hold, that amount you might not care for and as a result defeats the purpose of a consequence. 

Having a hard time making a decision? Should you go out tonight or stay in? Should you move to a new city or not?

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