How to Discover Why You Procrastinate
Episode #1 of the course How to overcome procrastination by Jurgen Wolff
Welcome! I know you’re here because you indulge in one of the most popular activities (or non-activities) known to humans: procrastination.
In any survey of what time management skills people want to gain, overcoming procrastination is always number 1. The good news is that in this course, you’re about to learn how to do just that.
We’ll start by looking at why we procrastinate. That’s helpful to know because the different types of procrastination each require a different mental shift.
Reason 1: Fear of the Size of the Task
One of the most common reasons for procrastinating is that the task seems so big, we don’t know where to start… so we don’t.
For instance, let’s say that you dream of writing a book. Most books are at least 50,000 words long, and some contain 100,000 words or more. The distance between your 1st page with no words on it and word number 50,000 or 100,000 seems so vast, it can make you tired just thinking about it. Much easier to pull out that DVD box set and chill.
So, change your perspective. Yes, it’s great to have a grand vision, but when you get to your desk to start working, put that aside and focus only on the bit you’re going to do today. For writing a book, that could be chapter 1 or just page 1 or even paragraph 1. In a later lesson, you’ll learn more about chunking big tasks down into small ones.
Reason 2: Fear of the Unknown
Another time we procrastinate is when we’re doing something for the 1st time or something we don’t do well yet. Doubts start to appear: What if I get stuck? What if I can’t figure out how to get past the hardest bit? This quickly spirals into discouragement and even depression.
The solution is to anticipate possible challenges and plan how to overcome them if they appear. These days, information is so easily available that lack of knowledge usually is easily fixed. There’s probably a YouTube video, a blog, an online course, a teacher, or another source of relevant information close at hand. This course and the others offered by Highbrow are excellent examples.
Reason 3: There’s Too Much to Do
In this case, we are overwhelmed not by the size of 1 task but rather by the cumulative size of all the tasks we think we need to do or have agreed to do. Starting on any one of them seems almost futile because we know even if we get this one done, there are another dozen hanging around. Sometimes we escape by avoiding all of them.
So, start saying no. Many of us have a hard time saying “no” to others and even to ourselves. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in the day. We can’t do everything; we have to set priorities.
If you feel overwhelmed at the moment, think carefully before taking on anything else. If you’re a people-pleaser who tends to say “yes” immediately, make your new standard response, “Let me check whether I have time to take that on, and get back to you.” That will give you time to remind yourself of all the things you’re already doing, rather than rushing into adding yet another one.
Now you know the 3 main reasons we procrastinate and how to change your mindset in order to start having control of your time and getting things done.
One category I’ve left out is things that we just plain don’t enjoy doing. How to drop or delegate such tasks is the topic of the next lesson.
All the best,
Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy
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