Defeat your procrastination tendencies with some simple tricks

Ever since I can remember I have struggled to get things done on time. This has brought me many problems, from school, where I rarely did my homework, to my professional life, the beginnings of which were not easy for me. Today, it is still a challenge for me to counteract procrastination. With mild symptoms of ADHD, it is even more difficult. That’s why I’ve spent the lion’s share of my life trying to find solutions that work. But let’s start at the beginning.

What is procrastination?

Procrastination is the action of unnecessarily and voluntarily delaying or postponing something despite knowing that there will be negative consequences for doing so. But this is just a definition. In reality, procrastination is like driving with the handbrake applied. You’ll drive very slowly or not at all, and your car will break down along the way, too. We don’t want to get stuck, do we?

You are not alone

It’s easy to get into the mindset that the problems we face are only about us. Which makes us feel lost and alone. So let’s turn to the findings of the study [1]:

  • procrastination chronically affects about 15%-20% of adults
  • about 25% of adults consider procrastination a defining personality trait.

The study looked at North American residents. So it can be assumed that procrastination chronically affects about 86 million to as many as 115 million of its residents! Okay, now we know that we are not alone in this. But how can we help ourselves?

The absolute basics

This is going to sound very boring but the absolute basic is to write down a task list. Probably many of you already do this but the key to this is to stick to a few rules. First, our minds like it when something is written down by hand. Because it treats it as a contract with itself. That’s why I recommend old-fashioned notebooks. Secondly, it’s easy to fall into the tendency of doing the easy tasks instead of the most important ones. Which is also a kind of procrastination. So if we’ve already written down a list of tasks for today, it’s a good idea to prioritize it from most important to least important. This will help us focus on the things that are most significant to us, not always the easiest or quickest. And finally, we often have trouble starting tasks that we know will take us a long time and don’t know how to get started. There is something that can help us with this. Let’s divide our tasks into smaller ones. This is what I consider most important, so I’ll expand on it below.

Rome(Cracow) was not built in a day

On my journey through life, I heard a story that was the driving wheel of my personal development. A man wanted to teach his children to achieve goals. One day he asked them to build a wall 2 meters high and 4 meters wide. It’s impossible to build such a big wall! — they said. The man answered them — today lay just one brick, and every day another. So children did as their father told them to. Every day they came and laid one brick. After about 16 months, they came to their father and proudly said — the wall is finished. The most important moral in this short story is that all the big goals we achieve are simply the consequence of successive small actions.

If you’re having trouble starting a big thing, tell yourself you’ll spend a minimum of 10 minutes each day doing it. And do it. After all, 10 minutes is not that much. You are able to disprove the hardest argument created by your mind to not start the work. But what if we have the tools to make it even better?

Time blocks

As an experienced procrastinator, you probably know that time pressure works well for you. What if there is no one above you to set a time limit for you to complete a task? With help comes the Pomodoro method. The method encourages you to divide your work into blocks of time. The receipt is simple [2]:

  1. Decide on the task to be done.
  2. Set the timer to 25 minutes — it’s one of Pomodoro sessions.
  3. Work on the task.
  4. End work when the timer rings and take 5 minutes break
  5. If you have finished fewer than three pomodoros, go back to Step 2 and repeat until you go through all three pomodoros.
  6. After three pomodoros are done, take the fourth pomodoro and then take 25 minutes of break. Once the long break is finished, return to step 2.

The important thing about this method is that in the time allotted for work, we only do the work. We turn off our phones and eliminate all objects that can distract us from our environment. It works best for me when I’m sitting in front of my computer and all I have in front of me is an empty table and a white wall.

Summary

Let’s assume what we know, and make a quick list of things we can do to improve our day and make it more productive:

  1. Handwrite a list of tasks to do.
  2. For each task, give priority.
  3. Start your daily work with the most important ones
  4. Divide long tasks into smaller ones.
  5. Use the Pomodoro method to finish the smallest parts of tasks (for the beginning even 10 minutes session is good)

There are many solutions available in books and on the Internet. It is impossible to list them all in the article. The solutions I have given work best for me. They are a combination of years of reading and deepening my knowledge of procrastination. I recommend trying them out and wish you good luck in your struggle!

Hubert Wróblewski

Sources

  1. The nature of procrastination: A meta-analytic and theoretical review of quintessential self-regulatory failure, Steel, P. (2007)
  2. Get started, pomodorotechnique.com web archive (access 5 september 2022)

Let's
get in touch

My personal data contained in this form will be processed by Elite Crew Sp. z o.o. with registered office in Rzeszow, Poland. To read more about the purposes and means of processing see our Privacy Policy.

Elite Crew Sp. z o.o.
KRS: 0000796811 / REGON: 383971882
NIP: 5170400770

ul. Juliusza Słowackiego 24,
35-060 Rzeszów, Poland

© Copyright 2022. All Rights Reserved.