How To Beat Procrastination

by David Nguyen

Procrastination is the act of delaying. Whether it’s due to laziness or fear or apprehension, we are putting something off. Often times this is because of a feeling of being overwhelmed. Whatever the task, it seems unpleasant or too difficult.

Think for a moment to a time when you were under intense pressure to get something done. You were probably very focused. There was no time to waste. You had to act.

By creating a sense of urgency and focusing just on your immediate goals you can prevent procrastination. Doing this well ahead of the actual due date by setting your own mini-deadlines will get you started while there’s little “real” stress.

You have to know your goal and then go about seeing how much of it you can get done in 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Use a timer. There doesn’t need to be physical movement. It can be planning and deciding how you’re going to do it. All that matters is that you’re working on it.

Instead of dwelling on your fears or the things you don’t like about it you are turning your energy toward beating the clock. Suddenly you have aligned your goal with a challenge that offers immediate feedback. Your sense of direction will be much more clear when you’re focused on the very short term (i.e. right now).

Relax completely for 3 to 5 minutes in between work sessions. Use a timer to allow you to focus your attention on what you’re doing, whether it is working or relaxing.

Repeat the cycle of total focus and total relaxation. You will gradually chip away at whatever it is you want to accomplish. We are happiest when we are so consumed by what we are doing that time is forgotten. Remember when you were so involved in a conversation that the hours passed like minutes? It’s the same thing.

You do a lot and time does go by but you’re not spending any of it worrying or feeling overwhelmed. You’re being productive which is the exact opposite of procrastination.

In order for this to be effective you will need to decide what intervals are best for you. The only way to find out is to try different ones with different activities. Maybe you can easily go for 30 minutes at a time on something you really enjoy. But maybe you can only be effective for 15 minutes at a time on tasks that are not as pleasant. That’s fine too. Just adapt your intervals accordingly (and maybe extend your rest period just a little).

When you are relaxing, forget about everything work-related. Even if you are intensely interested in what you are working on just drop it and think about something else. Or close your eyes and think about nothing at all.

You’ll be recharging your mind. You will learn to mentally shift gears with this technique. The result is that you will gradually be able to focus on anything at will. Procrastination will become insignificant.

We can’t keep this up all day, every day so choose the hours when you’re at your best, use this method and do the best you can in that time frame. Turn off the music, the phone and close the door. Getting started is the most difficult part. The rest is easy once you’re in the right state of mind.

David Nguyen is the founder of and author of “The 25 Hour Day” ebook.

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