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7 Creative Ways To Say “Not Today” To Procrastination

Nov 1, 2022

“I’ll get it done tomorrow.”

“I’ll start when the clock hits 6:48.”

“I still have plenty of time left.”

If you’ve ever uttered those words exact words or the other gazillion words the human brain has learned to manufacture over the years to signal the postponement of a task or act that really shouldn’t be postponed, then there are two things you need to know:

First, you are only human. We all procrastinate — even the impeccably neat teacher with the horn-rimmed glasses. It must feel great to know you’re not a Kryptonian, eh?

Second, this article is for you. Why?

In this article, I outline seven rather interesting, simple, and effective ways to get ahead of procrastination. Not to worry, they require minimal effort to complete. No point in teaching how to avoid procrastination in a way that makes you want to avoid learning it immediately. 😄

Like most other things you find online, the strategies I discuss here may not be 100% applicable to you. But you’ll surely close this tab (after reading, of course) feeling far more equipped to handle procrastination.

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Table of Contents

Why do we even procrastinate

Tim Urban, a pretty decent blogger, has an excellent theory about why we procrastinate. I’ll share that theory with you.

Most people have a rational side. That side tells you not to drink three cans of beer on the morning of an important exam. Mr. Rational reminds you dutifully that you need a clear head to pass your exams.

The rational side is mostly a hero. But like every other hero, Mr. Rational has an archenemy — Mr. Instant Gratification. The desire to do something that makes us feel happy and at ease in the short term is the power source of Mr. Instant Gratification. He never wants to do anything that isn’t instantly gratifying.

Why bother about exams or writing your thesis when you can instantly grab a bottle of beer or hang out with your partner?

Mr. Rational and Mr. Instant Gratification are always going at it inside our heads. When instant gratification wins, we procrastinate. You probably don’t need this statistic, but Mr. Instant Gratfications enters every battle as the favorite. That’s why up to 95% of students have experienced procrastinating.

Now you know the reason you procrastinate. Let me show you how to make it easier for Mr. Rational to kick Mr. Instant Gratification’s ass to the curb in their next battle.

Side Note: Did you notice that the initials for Mr. Instant Gratification are IG? Do with that information what you please.

7 Creative & Simple Ways To Beat Procrastination

1. Split Your Work Into Tomatoes, Apples, or Oranges

It’s easy to slack behind and avoid doing work when it’s a lot. Writing a 200-page paper, making 200 shots on the basketball court, or doing 100 pushups is truly tough to do at once. Overwhelming is more like it.

Who says you have to do it all at once?

Rather than take a mountain of work head-on, you’ll feel much better if you chip at the mountain’s pillars, breaking it down into sizable and chewable pieces.

Do you want to do one hundred pushups? Start by doing ten every hour till you reach your desired goal. Represent every batch you do with a tomato or any kind of fruit.

Completing small parts of an enormous task is not only easier, but it’s also rewarding too. Every page you write makes the work feel less strange and difficult and more natural — and eventually, you see how far you’ve come and feel fulfilled, making you more inclined to go the full mile. That’s the Zeigarnik Effect in full swing.

How to do this:

Make a list that divides your ‘big’ work into little bits. Every time you do that little bit, mark it off your list. In no time, you’ll have crossed everything off your list.

You should also check out the Pomodoro Technique too. It’s handy for office and school-related work. Focus Bear can get you started on that.

2. Schedule a WORK time

According to the Harvard Business Review, making a habit out of work can make it more difficult for Mr. Instant Gratification to convince you to procrastinate.

Trust me; it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Pretty simple.

All you’ve got to do is schedule a time (doesn’t matter how long or short) for just work. No distractions and no cute videos on TikTok.

For example, you could schedule 1:30 PM — 2:00 PM for a task such as practicing your basketball handling. In that time, you get a ball and pound away. Nothing else.

The theory (it works) here is that the more times you can zero in on a task and focus on the scheduled time, the harder it is for your brain to think of doing something else. This strategy is a favorite because it lets me trick my brain into shutting out Mr. Instant Gratification without thinking about it.

3. Eat that frog

Ever heard of this expression?

The eat-the-frog strategy is a way to set priorities and get things done. It helps people figure out what the most demanding tasks are.

The idea is to choose one difficult task (the frog) and do it first thing in the morning (eating it).

If you want to get the most out of your day, you should schedule your activities around the times of day when you are feeling the most inspired and aware.

Those that thrive first thing in the morning should tackle their most challenging tasks first thing in the morning. But if you’re a grouch first thing in the morning, diving headfirst into a challenging work might lead to aggravation, thoughtless mistakes — and procrastination.

Simply label the most challenging thing you have to do: “The Frog.” If amphibious meals aren’t your thing, “Eat That Broccoli” might be a better label.

Then start eating it..I mean doing it before you do anything else. The rest of your day will seem easier in comparison.

4. Tweak your environment

Nothing makes Mr. Instant Gratification happier than having you eat and dine with distractions.

Distraction can be physical and digital. You’re more likely to delay an important task, such as studying, if you sit comfortably in your friend’s apartment playing video games. You’re also more likely to procrastinate if your phone keeps getting notifications of new snaps from your favorite people.

To get more work done, it is vital that you leave an environment that makes working uncomfortable or less desirable. Sometimes, switching entirely from one environment to another is not feasible. In that case, only a tweak is necessary.

If you want to try this method without much fuss, I suggest using an app like Focus Bear to shut out digital distractions and change the vibe from play mode to work mode.

People with workspaces may make simple changes such as playing music, lighting a candle, opening the curtains, or changing the position of the work table to offer the setting a new perspective and shut out physical distractions.

5. Pep talk yourself

If you’re feeling awful about procrastinating, you’re one step ahead because you realize that delaying work is not good.

Don’t wait for someone, like your boss, to reiterate the importance of punctuality — because you already understand it.

On one of the days you’re feeling very motivated and clear-headed, pick up your phone and make a recording. Talk about the need to do your work on time, the dangers of procrastinating, and the mental satisfaction that accompanies a life without procrastination. Rely on cues, jokes, and stories that resonate with you. After all, no one knows you better than you.

Replay this recording to yourself when hesitating to get work done.

Side Tip: Listening to their voices makes some people feel weird. If you’re in that category, you can simply write to yourself or use voice-changing software.

6. Reward yourself

Motivate yourself with a reward for not procrastinating and getting work done. Rewards can be as small as one hour of TV time, a pizza box, or as big as going on vacation or buying a new TV.

The goal here is to promise Mr. Instant Gratifcation that if he stays in the shadows till a task is complete, you’ll give him exactly what he wants without any resistance. It’s like negotiating with a stubborn four-year-old. You either transact in peace, or the world ends.

Mr. Instant Gratfication aside, doing the right thing should get you a reward. You deserve a reward for all that focus, concentration, and timeliness. Get ’em, tiger.

So, what reward do you think is appropriate when you don’t procrastinate? Treat yourself to it. Though be careful of “motivation crowding out”

7. Be kind to yourself

No strategy guarantees a completely procrastination-less life. Every day lived on planet Earth is a battle. Sometimes, we win, and other times we lose some.

Bad days will come, and you’ve got to be prepared for them. When you slip and consistently delay important tasks, hit the reset button and take time to rediscover improved strategies that will motivate you.

It’s okay to lose a battle, but it may not be okay to give up entirely. Forgive yourself, pick yourself up as soon as possible and fire on again.

Nov 1, 2022

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