10 Powerful Ways to Prevent Procrastination
Do you struggle with procrastination? I did. In school, I’d put things off until I HAD to do them at the last minute. Even though we know the consequences of procrastination, that doesn’t stop us from doing it again.
We put things off because we don’t want to deal with the pain of doing them now. We’d rather delay the pain as long as we can. This short-term thinking mentality gives us a false sense of freedom. We act as if we’re acting on our free will when we delay our responsibilities. When in reality, we’re submitting to our primal desires.
We typically think that instant-gratification will bring us happiness and satisfaction. Why? Because when we overdose on dopamine, we feel good for a little while. It’s an escape from our everyday reality and responsibility. Running from our problems never solved them. And eventually, we come face to face with our problems when Father Time comes knocking on our door.
We have two simple choices, either to prepare ourselves for the tests of life or to continue running from them until it’s too late. The problem that you’re avoiding in your life is what will give you the breakthrough you’re looking for.
Maybe early on in your life, you were enthusiastic and motivated to take on the challenge. But somewhere down your journey, the road became tough. And when you didn’t see much progress, you became discouraged. And with that discouragement, you stopped. And when you stopped, you lost your dreams.
Even if your dreams seem long lost, you can find them again. Go ahead, think about that dream you’ve always had. You’re allowed to dream. Now take that dream and put it into writing. When you write down your dreams, they become a goal.
Does your goal seem too big? And do your dreams scare you? Well then great! Your dreams and goals should be so big that they scare you. Dreams aren’t worth going for if they’re too small.
Your dreams might seem impossible to fulfill right now. And you’re probably right. They might be too big for you to achieve in a day. But that’s just like any great dream. Great things in life never happen in a day. As the saying goes…
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
If you want your dreams to become real, you have to break your goal up into real tasks. And you have to complete those tasks consistently over a long time.
Here are 10 Powerful Ways to Prevent Procrastination.
1. Turn Your Goals into Actionable Steps
If your goal is to one day become a writer, then you can always start small. Instead of writing an entire book, why not start with a blog post? Or if you want to get into shape, who says you have to start off with a 10-mile run? Start with a walk around your neighborhood. Then jog half a mile. Then one mile, and then two. And when you’re running two to three miles consistently, you’ll be able to challenge yourself to run more miles moving forward.
Think of ways to build routines into your life that will help you make progress towards your goals. When your goals become workable tasks, you are now on a path towards your goals. And as long as you stay on that path, you are making progress. And when you make progress, you’re turning your dreams into reality.
2. Find the Purpose Behind Your Goals
Why do you want to do what you want to do? Find out what makes you want to get up in the morning to pursue your dreams. Why does that activity make you feel fulfilled? You might not have all the answers right away and that’s okay. Keeping these questions in mind during your journey will help you discover your purpose. After all, discovering your purpose is one of the most meaningful things you can do for yourself.
3. Set a Deadline on Your Goal
Your goals are just wishful thinking if you don’t have a deadline. Set deadlines for both short-term and long-term goals. We tend to live as if we’re always promised tomorrow. But the cold hard fact of life is that tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone. When we put things off, instead of finishing them, we’re delaying the life we really want. There is a time for everything. And deadlines help us do the right thing and the right time.
4. Make Achievable Goals
If you’re constantly failing to meet your goals, that means your goals are too big to achieve. Not only are they too big, but you’re also not giving yourself enough time to complete them. This all squares back to our inability to delay gratification.
We want to get to our goals instantly. So what do we do? We take the all in or nothing approach. We underestimate our weaknesses and overestimate our strengths. We have to have it now or we learn to live without it forever. Life is a game of patience. When we learn to patiently work on our goals over a long time, we turn dreams into reality.
5. Share Your Dreams with Supportive Friends
Tell someone about your goals. Ideally, someone, you can trust and won’t judge you for your dreams. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s not a good idea to tell everyone about your dreams. Why? Because not everyone will support them. Even those who love you. It’s not always because they’re bad people. In fact, in their perspective, they are doing it to protect you from failure and disappointment. In a sense, they are projecting their own fear to you.
Keep your dreams a secret from people who won’t support you in your dreams. Going for your dreams is hard by itself. You definitely don’t need to make it any harder than it has to be. Having supportive friends will help you during times when you want to give up. When you’re going after a great dream, accountability is a must. Having friends to share in your pain and in your joy makes your journey much more meaningful.
6. Create a Productive Environment
Having a distraction-free environment will help you get to work more consistently. When your work area is a mess, you’re more likely to lose focus. Motivating yourself to get to work is hard enough on its own. The last thing you need is a messy room to weigh you down. When you have a clean and organized room, your environment will work for you instead of working against you.
Do you still need more help with creating a productive environment? If you do, I suggest checking out my article on How to Create a Productive Environment.
7. Celebrate Your Milestones
Every milestone should be celebrated and rewarded. Once you experience the satisfaction of making progress and receiving the rewards of your hard work, you’ll become addicted to the process.
In a world where we can purchase virtually anything with easy credit, delaying gratification seems counterculture. Instead of rewarding yourself whenever you feel like it, there is much joy in patiently working towards your desires. Even when you have the means to buy whatever you want, rewarding yourself after your hard work will make the purchase even sweeter.
And remember, it’s not the rewards that give life meaning. Rewards are just a tool to help you stay encouraged so that you keep doing meaningful work. Michael Jordan didn’t play the game of basketball for the cigars and champagne bottles. He played the game because he loved basketball and loved winning. In the same way, we pursue our passions because of our love for them. If you’re pursuing something just because of the rewards and celebrations, then that’s not a big enough reason to go after them
8. Learn From Your Mistakes
Mistakes will be made. There is no such thing as a perfect success story. Every dream is met with failures and setbacks. When we fail we have two choices:
- Become discouraged and give up
- Learn from it and get stronger
Choice number two is always the best option. It’s much easier said than done. And it’s okay to feel hurt by your failures. Some of your past failures might still make you cringe today. And that’s completely fine. But while you’re hurting, I’d rather you profit from your pain rather than waste it by giving up.
Forgive yourself and reflect on your experience. How can you do it better next time? Write down what you learned so that you don’t make the same mistake again. And don’t see your mistakes as failures. Call them growth opportunities. Because when we’re learning, we’re growing.
9. Progress is Still Progress
No matter how insignificant your progress may seem, any progress brings you closer to your dreams. Although it’s ideal to block off uninterrupted hours of time to get to work, sometimes you’ll have to work with the time you have. Even if it’s 20 minutes a day, you’re inching forward to your next milestone. Consistency over a long time will pay off. And when you do reach your milestone, you’ll realize how valuable every little moment is. This will encourage you when you feel like you haven’t made much progress.
There will be days when you don’t feel like showing up. But doing as much as showing up and getting to work will make all the difference. I personally struggled the same way. There were many days when I didn’t feel like writing. But I sat down at my desk and wrote for as long as I could.
Somedays I would only have 30 minutes to write. Rather than putting it off on another day when I’d have 2 hours to write, I used the 30 minutes to write my first draft. Was my first draft amazing? Definitely not. But was it something I can use to complete an article? YES. Did it help me build momentum the next time I had more time to write? Another YES. So the point is that you want to take advantage of every opportunity to build momentum. A group of small winds will create a big one. And eventually, it will give you the push you need for a big breakthrough.
10. Imagine Yourself Succeeding
A popular tip that many coaches give is to envision yourself with the reward. That’s well and good, but imagining yourself with the reward could trick your brain into thinking that you’ve already accomplished the goal. Except you haven’t yet.
This could jeopardize your motivation. A better method would be to envision yourself doing each of your tasks successfully. Rather than fearing failure, picture yourself getting through your task with ease. When you have a strong vision of your success, your mind and body will act accordingly when you get to the moment to perform. Before anyone else can believe in your success, you have to learn how to believe in yourself first. And that belief is solidified through your imagination and the actions you take.
Now that you know 10 Powerful Ways to Prevent Procrastination, what do you plan on doing? Whatever it is you want to do, my hope for you is that you don’t wait another day to get started. And remember, it’s never too late to start. But it’s always too late to delay. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to go after your dreams.