Procrastination: 8 Effective Ways To Stop Procrastinating

Akash Sehrawat

6 min read | Jan 16, 2017

Procrastination is the simple act of delaying things. It’s a disconnect between intention and implementation.

 

Honestly, I procrastinate quite a lot!

 

Here Are A Few Things That I Procrastinate On

 

– In paying my credit card bills. I know I need to set up a direct debit on these cards, but I always fail to do so, even though I always end up paying late payment charges.

 

– I know I need to get a haircut every month, but it always seems to get delayed!

 

– I am late for my car service every time

 

– Doing legal stuff for my company, like delaying my meetings with my CA! I am sure he hates me by now.

 

-Many other things which I find to be monotonous and somewhat boring!

 

Does this worry me? Not really. Are these things important to me? Probably. Paying late payment charges and looking shabby with long uncut hair is not something anyone would want!

 

Now, Let’s Look At Things That I Hardly Procrastinate On

 

– My workouts: I have not missed a single workout in the last few years. One of the reasons is that I only work out 2 to 3 times a week which is enough to optimize my gene expression. [Please note, in addition to my workouts, I walk 10,000 steps daily and stand and work on my standing desk at least 50 percent of the time]

 

– Eating 110-130g of high-quality protein every day

 

– Writing at least 1,000 words daily

 

– Planning my next day and setting my priorities

 

-Meditating (and taking a lot of deep breathes throughout the day)

 

-Doing specific things to build my company Fabulous Body Inc.

 

Why Is There A Difference In Things That I Procrastinate On?

 

Because my time is limited, and so is my willpower. I would rather work hard and prioritize things that I know I can be really good at and which get my creative juices flowing.

 

For some people, taking their car to a service center and spending an entire Sunday there might be pleasurable to them, but not me. No pun intended.

 

Wait A Minute, There Is A Third Category-Things That Can Be Extremely Beneficial For Us, But We Still Procrastinate On It

 

– For a student, studying and passing his exam (and getting good grades ) is more or less a compulsion, even if she likes it or not!

 

-For someone like me, who wants to reach millions of people around the world, learning to become a good orator and probably give a TEDx talk would be a prized moment for me (given that I stammered from the age of 5 up until now..coupled that with being an introvert).

 

However, for overweight people, dragging themselves to the gym every morning could be very challenging.

 

– Asking the boss for raise in pay because you know you deserve it but somehow cannot summon up the courage to do so.

 

– Not asking that gorgeous girl out because you fear she will say no.

 

This category has tasks that most of us would find uncomfortable and actively delay or simply avoid doing. For simplicity’s sake, let’s call this Category C. So why do we procrastinate, especially with tasks in Category C?

 

You see, our brain is wired to seek comfort. So, where there is pain or fear of the unknown, we usually run away from it. The bigger the fear, the more we delay those tasks.

 

“In your biggest fear/struggle lies your biggest opportunity.” ~Unknown

 

I am not sure where I read this quote, but it certainly rings true for me and many others I know, and it’s a topic for some other day.

 

For now, let’s look at eight effective ways you can overcome fear/pain and stop (or literally minimize) procrastinating (especially on tasks in Category C):

 

1) Practice The Action Habit

 

Action precedes action. It’s the law of nature. Use mechanical force to start your mind engine. Get into the act. A wise man once said: 50% of the work is just showing up.

 

Do you not feel like working out? Simply wear your shoes and show up; I promise your gym attendance will improve.

 

Plan on writing a book? Just wake up every morning, open your laptop and start writing. I can assure you; you will become better over time. A rough draft is better than an empty page!

 

2) First Things First

 

Your willpower is highest in the morning hours but is limited. Selecting the most important task that needs to be done first thing in the morning. For example, when I am writing this answer, it’s 7:15 am, and everyone is asleep.

 

No doorbells, TV, or phone ringing (actually, my phone is out of my sight and is on silent). It’s just me, my Mac, some birds chirping outside and my cup of coffee. Pure Bliss:) Find out what those important tasks are for you and annihilate them first!

 

3) Minimise Distraction

 

And it starts by deleting social media apps from your phone. I know most of you will not do it. But hear me out: According to author Nir Eyal of ‘Hooked,’ we check our phones at least 150 times on a daily basis!

 

In an article on CBS news, Walker-Smith says we’ve gone from being exposed to about 500 ads a day back in the 1970s to as many as 5,000 a day today.

 

According to Wikipedia, ‘The average attention span for humans is between 5 minutes to 20 minutes.’

 

After which, they need a break and re-focus their energies back on the task. With that kind of attention span and with thousands of advertisers vying for your attention, how can you focus and spend time on a task that is potentially beneficial for you? You cant!

 

Once something distracts you and breaks your concentration, it’s very tough to get the flow back, and that’s why you delay it. For example, the day I deleted Facebook and Twitter apps from my iPhone, I could clearly see a visible change in my focus, and my productivity had literally gone through the roof!

 

4) Practice The 3-Time Rule

 

You will be distracted no matter how hard you try; all you can do is minimize those distractions. Whenever I get distracted from an important task, I practice the ‘3-time rule’ (this is my own creation:))

 

Say I am writing this answer and my phone rings and my best friend calls me to invite me for a night out. We talk and discuss the details. Now, I get excited and start thinking about a few things. Dropping my kids at his grandparent’s house, what I will wear, who will be there and so on and so forth.

 

Suddenly my mind wanders back to the question I was writing. My flow is broken by a phone call from a friend, and now I am struggling to get the creative juices flowing to write this answer. What do I do?

 

Procrastinate- Delay it until tomorrow morning. Promise me that I will finish it after dinner. Or I can practice the 3-time rule. This states that I have to work hard to re-focus my energies and thoughts back on the task I was doing three times before I abandoned it for that day.

 

I meditate, make another cup of coffee, and do whatever it takes to get the flow back. Hey, it doesn’t work all the time, but I give myself three opportunities to work back into the task and most of the time, it works.

 

5) Belief In The Power Of Less

 

Focus on one major task that needs to be done every day. Make sure you decide beforehand what this task is (this will depend on your short, long term goals etc.). This task should take at least a few hours of your time for that day.

 

Focus on the task until you are satisfied that you have annihilated it! In a month, you will have completed 30 such important tasks. Imagine your state of mind after 6 months or after a year!

 

Remember this quote by Gary Keller, author of The ONE thing,

 

“You need to be doing fewer things for More Effect instead of doing More Things with side effects!”

 

6) Keep The End Feeling In Mind

 

If you finish a particular task, how will that make you feel? How will it affect your life and others? I highly recommend giving intention before you begin any task. For example, if I am writing this answer and it’s taking forever (some of the answers I have created have taken 15 to 20 hours).

 

But I know potentially thousands of people will be reading this, and even if one of them implements just a single idea from My Entire Writing Portfolio that may potentially change his/her life, I would be delighted. This end feel enables me to get excited and complete the tasks.

 

7) Reward Yourself

 

Don’t be too harsh on yourself, and promise yourself a reward every time you complete a task. Rewards can depend upon the complexity of the task. The bigger the task, the bigger the reward:)

 

8) Take Frequent Breaks

 

As I mentioned before, humans have an attention span of 5 to 20 minutes. But say in your case, you have worked hard to minimize distraction and can concentrate for up to 50 minutes! (Trust me, that’s awesome).

 

Now, unless you are a mad scientist trying to discover a new element in the periodic table, your mind will tell you to take a break after an hour of intense work. By a break, I don’t mean switching on the TV or browsing Facebook— these mind-draining activities will tire you even further.

 

Instead, listen to soothing and powerful music, take a nap, or meditate. Working in chunks like this will take your productivity through the roof! Please note that the break should last 5-15 minutes.

 

One Such Popular Technique Is Pomodoro Technique

 

Conclusion

 

I allow myself to be highly selective in the things I indulge in. Procrastinating on things could be a sign that we may be working on the wrong things, and this may require taking a step back, reassessing and prioritizing. I personally remove items from my to-do list if it has been on it for too long.

 

What about you? What do you procrastinate on? Let me know in the comments below!

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About Akash Sehrawat

Akash is a creator of 25+ programs and certificate courses in which more than 200,000 students have enrolled both on Udemy and Fabulous Body's native platform. Akash is also an author of three books that can be found on Amazon. His answers on Quora have gathered more than 12 million views in less than a year.

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Ruhi K.
Ruhi K.
4 years ago

Hi Akash, I found your website through one magazine in US. Anyways can you help 57 yrs old female, 20 lbs overweight and not very active with high b.p and hypothyroidism , on a vegetarian diet. Let me know. E-mail is [email protected] tried other nutritionists but did not work more than 15 days difficult to follow with lot of restrictions . Let me know . Thank you in advance. Ruhi.

Akash Sehrawat
Akash Sehrawat
Reply to  Ruhi K.
4 years ago

Dear Ruhi, Sure I can help you. If you have basic questions, I dont charge for that. You can ask them here, or perhaps email me your doubts @ [email protected]. Else if you need a customized diet plan, I have a consultation service, details can be found here: https://my.fabulousbody.com/p/personal-coaching-with-akash

All the best!