Taming The Procrastination Beast

Some people have no trouble with procrastination. They get up with a list of things to do and they do them, systematically without delay. Others have a list of things to do or more often, a single thing to do and they take it with them from pit stop to pit stop while the procrastination beast distracts them with unending diversions to keep them from stopping long enough to get on with their list.

There are those who are strong enough to eventually learn to beat the procrastination beast. Others of us do battle with it everyday. I’ve surrendered to the fact that I will probably never beat the beast, but I have learned some tricks to tame it and keep it at bay and some days, weary of our constant battles, the beast simply leaves me alone.

I’ll do it today is not good enough
When you plan on doing something today you’re inviting the beast to spend the day with you. It will drag you here and there and everywhere with a million distractions until today has somehow become tomorrow – again. Much better to say, I will do it at 10:00.

Set aside a SPECIFIC time and stick to it
The thing the procrastination beast hates more than anything else is strict timelines. In order to ensure something gets done, block out a specific hour to do it and short of a true emergency situation, get on with it on the button.

Once you’re started, all you need to do is keep yourself at it for at least five minutes. In the Lifehacker article, Work For Just Five Minutes to Break Procrastination Habits they talk about the importance of getting started. How once you get going you’re likely to keep going.

Setting up a routine where everyday you do A during this time and B during that time and C during this other block of time is an excellent way of ensuring that things get done. It may not seem fun or spontaneous, but if you’re stalked by the procrastination beast routines are a great way to keep it at bay.

Dreading is worse than doing
Sometimes we put off doing something because on some level we’re afraid of doing it. We’re afraid of the difficulty of the task or the reaction we’re going to get in response. For instance, you have to make a difficult phone call and you know the person on the other end of the line isn’t going to react well. For the most part, dreading a thing is worse than doing it. The thing has to get done. The longer you postpone the fatter the beast is going to get feeding on the dread. Think of the task like a band-aid and just rip it off.

Turn off Internet
The procrastination beast has never had any trouble keeping itself fed, but since the Internet came along it doesn’t even have to work for its dinner anymore. If you don’t specifically need the Internet to complete your task then why not turn it off – just for a while. There are all kinds of programs that will turn the Internet off – for whatever amount of time you choose. FREEDOM is an example.

The beast of course isn’t just feeding off your computer, there’s also your equally distracting phone. There’s an app called Forest: Stay Focused, Be Present, that plants trees on your phone for as long as you don’t touch it. For every half hour you don’t touch your phone a tree grows and every time you do touch your phone the tree dies. Only a procrastination beast wants kill trees!

The procrastination beast is always taunting you with rewards. You deserve to play this game first and then we’ll get on with that little thing you want to do. Or You haven’t eaten anything for at least five minutes, let’s just have a sandwich first then we’ll do that other thing.

Rewards are great. You just need to flip the order. Remind yourself, Sure you can have that sandwich or play that game but dessert generally comes after the meal.

If you’ll excuse me now there’s a cupcake waiting for me at the lunch counter.

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