I’ve tried to beat procrastination one way or another for the longest amount of time. I’ve read a bunch of self-help books, articles, and watched some ted-talks trying to really get to the bottom of why I procrastinate as much as I do.
Of course, I did all the research while, technically, procrastinating, but I did learn one piece of valuable advice that has stuck with me.
You will never feel like doing it. If you think about it, get up and do it.
This is the piece of advice that I’ve used to help tick most of the undesirables off of my to-do list.
I can’t remember who said this for the life of me. It was a few years ago that I heard this advice. I don’t even know if the above quote is anything like the original.
Here is how I use it.
I’ll be sitting down watching a youtube video or relaxing, and my brain will occasionally think about what it has to do. Generally, this is anything from an article idea to Dutch vocabulary memorisation. I pause whatever I’m doing (if it’s not already other work I need to get done) and I start doing my new task.
If it’s an article, I’ll write down the title or the first paragraph or so. If I have nothing pressing to do and feel inspired, I will start to write the article. If I don’t feel like writing I’ll come back to it on a day that I can’t come up with any ideas. This helps me build a story bank, makes sure I don’t lose any of my thoughts and allows me to create a writing environment with no pressure of follow-through.
If I think about Dutch, I will stop what I’m doing, go to one of my language programs and do anywhere from five minutes if I’m not feeling it to two hours if I feel inspired to put in the work. That entirely depends on how I feel, if I don’t want to, I don’t force myself to keep going.
If I think about the laundry, I get up and put on laundry. If I think about the dishes, I get up and do some dishes. If I think about dusting, I get up and do some dusting.
Are you beginning to see a pattern here?
I’ve come to realise that I will never feel like doing any of the jobs that I have to do. There won’t ever be a day where I put on the laundry just because I feel like it. I won’t do the dishes because it’s my favourite time of the day. I will never study Dutch because I want to have a good time.
I don’t find any of the above things fun, but they are all necessary for me. So when I think about them, I do them.
I think the way this works is that it creates a physical reaction to my thoughts. It helps me act on them. It also disables procrastination and helps me enjoy my downtime much more effectively than ever before.
I don’t procrastinate because the immediate response this lifestyle requires means that my body gets into the habit of doing the jobs that my brain thinks about. If I do everything straight away, I don’t give my brain time to complain about the action that has to be done. This has been a massive help for me.
This method also means that I get to fully enjoy my downtime because I don’t spend it mulling over what I should do, I can devote myself 100% to relaxing because I won’t be feeling guilty about things that I should be doing.
Sure sometimes, my relaxation gets interrupted by a chore, but I always feel proud of myself whenever I get a job done during downtime. It feels like I’ve been a little bit extra productive, and that makes me feel good.
I don’t know what you do to beat procrastination, but this tip has worked for me for years. It helps me get the job done without dwelling on how much I hate the task.
It saves me time and emotional energy.
It takes a bit of time to get used to in the beginning so if you’re going to try this out don’t be concerned if you take 5–10 minutes dwelling on whether or not you should do the job.
Just try to push through the doubt and get the thing done! Your future self will thank you!
As always, I cannot wait to see you on the bookshelf!