“I can’t stop procrastinating” – sound familiar?
We’ve all done it, and some of you might be doing it now. When you’re dusting instead of applying for jobs. Or you decide to clean the oven instead of contacting clients. But imagine if you could stop procrastinating. Focus on the things that really matter. Be a proactive person and create a more fulfilling and meaningful life.
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! This is where your procrastinating stops. Are you ready? Are you prepared to put the work in? If so, I’ve designed a 4 Habits Hierarchy to help you stop it, once and for all.
The 4 Habits to Stop Procrastinating
A habit is an autonomous behavior. Forming new habits involves a behavior, through regular repetition, becoming automatic or habitual. Understanding this enables you to prepare for the regular repetition. Some of you may be in the habit of running in the morning. Others like to read a book just before bed. Each habit builds your character, but some can be inhibiting. Procrastinating is one of those. However, it is possible to counter a bad habit with good habits.
The following 4 habits can help you to be more productive. They will initially enable less procrastinating, which leads to productivity. The 4 habits are added to a hierarchy, with procrastination at the top as the goal. Remember, you are trying to stop procrastinating. Each of these habits is also a core element of developing our personality. They are;
Why are these habits important?
You can’t resolve procrastination without perseverance, and in order to build your unbreakable perseverance, you must focus first on resilience, patience and inner peace.
This statement is where the hierarchy is created. Some people may call this a theory from a book, but for me, it’s what I’ve been through. It’s built from experience. And to begin, I feel it’s best we take a look into understanding procrastination. Then we’ll have a good base to learn about the 4 Habits Hierarchy.
The habit of delaying the start or completion of a task. Part of that habit is being self-aware that you are procrastinating. And by being aware, you enable subconscious punishment. You know what you ‘should’ be doing, but you’re not doing it.
The most challenging part of every task is to start. That’s because we don’t know where to begin. Our mind is playing games with us and applying delay tactics. But imperfect action is better than perfect inaction. You don’t need to know all the answers when you start or have an ideal plan for the future. Just by starting, you have tackled your biggest challenge.
Understanding Why You Procrastinate
Obviously, this is easier said than done. But by understanding that you are delaying the inevitable (unless you never want to complete the task), you have made progress. And to continue progressing, let’s summarise why these 4 habits can help you stop procrastinating.
Perseverance – the most important habit to build your character.
Resilience – enables you to overcome difficulty, challenges, and failure
Patience – allows you to accept the delay without frustration
Inner Peace – provides focus to things you can control
Remember the statement? By focusing on inner peace, patience, and resilience, it drives your perseverance. Imagine a funnel of habits, all flowing into perseverance. You have chosen to persevere with your task and before you know it, you’re doing it. You’ve stopped dusting the kitchen, scrolling on Facebook, or staring into space. No more procrastination.
Doing 30-50 or even 100,000 steps in one day is possible; repeating it for a week is difficult. Continually doing it for a month is tough and doing it for nearly a year seems impossible. As an ultra-endurance athlete, these are some examples of past goals. Challenging goals like this require an unbreakable mindset. None of us were born with perseverance in our blood, and it’s something all of us need to develop.
Connecting the Mind with the Body
I use the link between my mind and my body to establish my limits and develop perseverance. I create a vision in my mind of starting and finishing my challenge, no matter how difficult it will get. Visualising the task ahead is like telling your body, ‘you can do this!’. Professional gymnasts will use this method before a routine on the rings. Visualizing every move, how they connect, maintaining posture and holding their shape. Try it with your next task and see if it helps!
Visualising the task ahead is like telling your body, ‘you can do this!’ Click To Tweet
The same as every human, I have limited physical capabilities, but I don’t think about it anymore. When my body is alarming me with pain and saying that I’m going too far, I take care of the upcoming issue. I remove the roadblock, and I move forward.
It all sounds pretty obvious and reasonable, but it is much more complicated when it comes to the reality of being consistent in reaching your goals. If one thing doesn’t work, without delay, move on to replace it with other activities. This helps to avoid setbacks. Flow like water.
“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall; it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing, in the end, can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.” – Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad
Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. To get back up and continue when the tough gets going. By building resilience, you will also develop perseverance. It funnels through the hierarchy. But the road to resilience is likely to involve considerable emotional distress. To make it more manageable, The American Psychological Association divide the process of building resilience into;
- Building connections & prioritizing relationships
- Foster wellness, of your body & mind
- Find purpose & move towards your goals
- Embrace healthy thoughts & accept change
Believe in Yourself
Believing in myself is my attitude. As human beings, we tend to focus on the negativity that is happening in our life, counting how many losses the day has given to us. Using my notebook to catch all the wins of the day, week, or the month. Writing them down with big, bold fat letters framed a few times all around the page. It helps to enjoy what you’re doing, to make it valuable, to see that you’re moving forward. Then you will start to feel good about failures. Failures become motivators, not setbacks.
If you’re struggling to start a task, make notes first, just a short draft. Then leave the task for a couple of hours and focus on other activities. You could go for a run, or meet a friend, or clean the bathroom. It always works for me, because after a few hours, I come back to my desk with a bunch of fresh thoughts. The time away from task lets your brain process and bounce back.
We are supposed to fail again and again and then learn how to stand up. Life is supposed to have many hard, sad and difficult days which will make us appreciate the good ones. Patience is about accepting delay or problems without becoming annoyed.
Accepting your procrastination is part of building patience. And if you’re frustrated, take a step back. Realising that impatience is rooted in frustration can help you to understand how to be patient. Remember, it’s okay to take your time. The corporate world may be running at full-speed but your task doesn’t need to.
Impatience is rooted in frustration. Click To Tweet
Empathy for people, patience for tasks
Practicing empathy can enable you to be patient with others. Yet being patient towards a task is different. I like to divide my tasks, and my days, into steps. Usually, I wake up at 5 am. I’m starting my day with breakfast and coffee, and after a short break, I start running.
During the ‘Five Million Steps In Asia’ challenge, I created a system of small targets to accomplish and reward myself on an hourly basis. For example, an energy bar after 30 minutes, that’s a reward. Treating yourself with patience will help you to be patient. And by accepting your problems, you can persevere with positivity. What does perseverance help to stop? Procrastination!
“If we want to live wider and deeper lives, not just faster ones, we have to practice patience — patience with ourselves, with other people, and with the big and small circumstances of life itself.” — M. J. Ryan
In the modern world, the search for inner peace and peace of mind can seem continuous. But we must remember that inner peace is a choice. If you find it difficult to understand inner peace, I like to define it as follows;
Learning how to accept what is out of your control, and focus your energy on things which you can control. This definition helps to separate your thoughts. Life can be overwhelming, but every action we take today is a link to what we do tomorrow. Each of the steps we take tomorrow is a link to what we will accomplish the day after. Your search for inner peace may include nature, eating well, improved organization, or more physical activities. Everyone has a different journey to inner peace.
Create a Life of Balance
Through my experiences, I have learnt to not jump into a big goal without dividing it into small goals. Setting up a plan of what needs to be done first with reasonable timescales. I believe that’s how we balance our life. How we avoid unnecessary disappointments, and how we save lots of time doing things which have nothing to do with who we want to be. That’s how we become productive and avoid writing down the same task over and over again.
I hope you’ve found the 4 Habits Hierarchy useful. It might be a lot of information to process at once, but as we’ve learnt – take a break and let your brain process. After a few hours you may want to return to read some of the tips again.
If you’re looking for more ideas on how to stop procrastinating, stay tuned! I’ll be writing more blog posts from my experience over the coming months.
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TED Talks to watch
Inside The Mind Of A Master Procrastinator, by Tim Urban
The Surprising Habits Original Thinkers, by Adam Grant
Books to read
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport