Ninety-five per cent of college students find it hard to overcome procrastination and they are not the only ones suffering from this great anti-action. We put off stuff on a daily basis, not keeping in mind that our lives are not eternal and we don’t have so many weeks ahead of us, to complete this amazing project, which will give our lives sense of purpose. It’s not about being lazy, more about not being organized. Great minds have also had their share of tribulations fighting this state.
Victor Hugo, the genial writer is depicted on the French bank notes, as a celebration of his talent and greatness. He has got such literary accomplishments that one would think he was the pinnacle of motivated productivity. Truth is, the famous French author suffered from terrible procrastination. He always found more interesting things to do: various projects, endless parties and entertainment of guests. He had a great idea how to combat his urge to procrastinate. When he had to write, he would strip himself butt-naked, and have his butler hide his clothes and not return them until after a certain hour. But it is not just him.
Herman Melville asked his wife to literally chain him to his desk until he finished his epic work “Moby Dick” which is one of the most marvelous works of fiction ever written. Demosthenes, an ancient Greek orator, would shave one side of his head in order to stay indoors and practice his speeches.
Procrastination is undoubtedly a massive problem. It is the illness of intelligent people.
“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”
– H. Jackson Brown, Jr
Yes, you have time. But what to do?
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting on the first one.”
— Mark Twain
Start. If you have to write, open Word and start with the first sentence, which comes to your mind and trust in God for the second. Or start planning your most important activities. You have to shift your attention and your focus from the entire project (the forest) to a small task (a tree). Identify the next action, which moves you forward and make the effort. Your mind will be enthusiastic about it, for it can do this – it’s easy.
See, productive people tend to remain productive. As they say: “Nothing succeeds like success.” They build up momentum, the inertia that drives them to achieve more and more. Once you get started that becomes easier. One small step leads to another.
Make a Pretty to do List
The activities you put down in your To-do List either attract you or repel you. So you have to make them sound well to you. Tasks should sound easy, simple and actionable.
The Two-Minute Rule
If something takes you two minutes to be done – do not put it off – get it done. You will have a sense of a little achievement. You don’t want to be doing the entire laundry for the week on Sunday, spending several hours sorting clothes and hanging them out. This two-minute rule also applies to the habits you want to adopt. If you want to eat healthily – by all means grab an apple and eat it now.
Setting Macro Goals and Micro Quotas
Let’s say your macro goal is writing good fiction. In such case, your micro quotas will be small steps which move you towards the achievement of writing good fiction.
This is how a very prolific writer of the name of Trollope discusses his secret:
“It had at this time become my custom,—and is still my custom, though of late I have become a little lenient of myself—to write with my watch before me, and to require of myself 250 words every quarter of an hour.”
“This division of time allowed me to produce over ten pages of an ordinary novel volume a day, and if kept through ten months, would have given as its results three novels of three volumes each in the year…”
What did he do? Well, he divided the immense work of completing a novel into small steps… and this is so effective because Trollope gets those small wins, small achievements every 15 minutes, and that stimulates his writing process. He loved his morning routine.
I am going to do this, at this time of the day and in this location. This frame of mind is extremely powerful and makes procrastination hard. During this block of time, you have selected, eliminate everything else – like Facebook, your phone, all kinds of distractions. To overcome procrastination you need to really, really commit.
Create a Distraction To-Do List
While you are working, you suddenly wonder about the news, and there, 30 minutes are gone, you haven’t done anything. It takes at least 25 minutes to return to your original task. But what if you have this great solution: create a distraction to-do list. Don’t succumb to the temptation in the moment – simply put it down for later, when your most important tasks will be done.
The Power of Deadlines
Somehow colleges students manage to do the work for an entire semester in a single night. Here is the secret – they have got a deadline.
For this, you should use an instrument such as stickK – a place where you practically invest into your goals.
Kill The Inner Perfectionist
“The first draft of anything is shit.”
— Ernest Hemingway
Psychology has discovered that what keeps us procrastinating is what they call “analysis paralysis” which is another expression for being a perfectionist. You might hate it, but not everything is perfect. But “done is better than perfect.” The most famous picture of Leonardo Da Vinci Mona Lisa is not finished. So quit being a perfectionist. You cannot edit a blank page, you have to start somehow. David Ogilvy, the best copywriter in the world said about himself: I am a lousy copywriter, but a good editor.
Even the founder of Pixar says – “early on all our movies suck.” So don’t do a thing perfectly – Just do it!
“Begin to weave and God will give you the thread.”
— German Proverb
So just get started.
As Lao Tzu said “A journey of thousand miles must begin with a single step.”
17 Anti-Procrastination Hacks – DominicMan