If you are here it is because you have confirmed to yourself that you are procrastinating and need to find a way with dealing with this and need to find a way to discipline yourself to take action. Rather than blaming yourself for it, you should find a way to encourage yourself to get back on your feet.
Most often, it’s not an issue with will-power or discipline, but something else is getting in the way. If you know why your procrastinating, you can take steps to make the task easier for yourself, choose a different approach, or know when to walk away when your not making progress.
So I came up with the Procrastination Cheatsheet as a reference for whenever you found myself procrastinating. These reflect the most common reasons that I personally procrastinate, so they’re not exhaustive. I wanted to share this in case others find it useful.
|Reasons why I might be procrastinating||Possible solutions|
|I missed it on my task list – Because I have too many tasks, or didn’t check my list thoroughly||Internalise the habit of regularly checking the task list. If the list is too long, consider reducing, and ask myself why I’ve added each task to the list.|
| I don’t plan a time and place to do the task || Plan a specific time and date to do the task, or link it to an action I do already. E.g. after eating breakfast, I will write for 15 minutes. |
| I don’t want to do the task || Identify why the task is on my list in the first place. Is it a real obligation, or an imagined one? Am I shoulding all over myself? |
| The task is too vague or ill-defined e.g. “Think about house-hunting” or “Get more organised” || Try and break a task down to its most atomic, specific steps, and make it quantifiable (e.g. “Read 10 pages today”, instead of “Read more”). I won’t do a task if I don’t know what it is and/or how to do it. |
|The task is too big, e.g. “Plan future”, “Organise a party”||Again, break the task down to its smallest steps (“Choose party venue”, “Pick time and date”, “Contact venue to confirm”, etc.)|
|The task isn’t quantified or time-bound||If I know how much I have to do, or how long a task will take, it will be much easier to complete. E.g. if I have to write up multiple sets of notes, don’t write “Finish all notes”, create a checklist with “Notes 1”, “Notes 2” and “Notes 3” as individual tasks to check off.|
|I don’t realise I’m procrastinating||It’s really easy to get distracted by something mindless and only realise what I’m doing an hour later. Remind myself of what my task is before I start (“Write one page”), and if I get distracted, shut out all distractions and return to that task brief.|
|I’m “productive procrastinating” by doing something I think is related to the main task, but isn’t.||If something is taking too long to do, take stock, evaluate why I’m doing it. If it’s related to what I want to do, then persevere – if not, then I may be productive procrastinating.|
|I’m tired, stressed, or feeling another emotion that’s making it hard to focus.||If my batteries are depleted, I’m tired, stressed, or feeling any emotion, then I’m not going to be able to work effectively. Perhaps instead of forcing the issue, take time away to do something else.|
Hopefully the above list is useful.
There are also tools you can use to assist you when you are taking action. Like Pomodoro technique, 5 second rule, bullet journalling and keeping a journal / planner.
If you are not aware of the 5 second rule, then let me explain. When you’re lazy to start with some task, make a rule and be true to yourself with it, start with the task withing counting till 5, it only works if you honor it and don’t cheat, like suppose you have to write a draft in Word and are procrastinating by watching YouTube videos on the next tab , give yourself 5 seconds to press Ctrl + W (Close) on the video and move on to Word and do it within the count of 5.