Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Quit Wasting Time: How to Avoid Procrastination, Part One

Image thanks to Michel Filion

The title for this article has been sat, scribbled on a notepad beside my bed for several weeks now. Ironic, I know. I’ve been ignoring it; I’ve been procrastinating, and it’s not big, or clever.

Do you leave tasks lying stagnant and unfinished? Do you dream of more time in the day to spend on the things you really love? Do you long for the opportunity to get more done? Do you constantly feel as though you’re trying to catch up with yourself and the multitude of projects you have going on?

Above all other areas of self-improvement, I’d place the aim to avoid procrastination at number one. It is the bane of any would-be success story and you’re probably more than familiar, but we can beat it.

The 'Should Do' Censor

The way I see it, most of the elements of our daily lives can be separated into three categories:

The things we really want to do;
The things we really don’t want to do,
and the things we do without even thinking whether we want to do them or not.

These three categories are not as detached as they may first appear, the lines blur. You may think the things you really want to do are the things that you get done, and that the things you don’t want to do: you don’t, but if you examine your habits a little closer you may well discover that this is not the case.

How often have you got up and headed out for work or university in the morning when it was, in fact, the exact opposite of what you wanted to do? And, conversely, how many times have you considered a dream project that you’d just love to set up but never bothered even looking into it because you just can’t find the time? Exactly. We contradict our desires and fulfil our aversions daily.

Well, what a God-awful way to go about things!

If we could train ourselves to have our most productive and success-generating tasks fall into category three then there would be no stopping us. However, this isn’t always as easy as we might like it to be because of our inner ‘should do’ censor, the active force that bleeps out our natural creative voice. The things we believe we should do, that we do without even thinking, have been literally brainwashed into us to form our daily habits. So much so that many of them seem genuinely impossible to revert, like procrastination. We adopt the customs of our families, peers and colleagues, often to the point that we are down-right living parallel lives because of what we think we should be doing. Take a look at your daily habits and tell me they are exactly the traits you want to see from yourself... Not exactly? Thought so.

Image thanks to Abhi

The 'Want To' Voice

To thrive beyond these suffocating limits, at some point we need to start ignoring this ‘should do’ censor and awaken our true ‘want to’ voice, because only when this voice is fully awakened will the daily things we do always be the things we truly want to do, the things that walk us hand-in-hand toward a better future. This concept shouldn’t be confused with succumbing merely to our basic human impulses (like sitting at home all day watching day time TV and stuffing our faces!) no, this ‘want to’ voice calls from a much deeper place. It asks for success, it asks for fulfilment, it asks for joy and it asks for glory, and this is the voice we must listen to above all else. Only then can we fully tap into the stream of ideas and desires we have for our lives and begin to encourage the inclination to achieve them. And that’s when the fun starts! That's when day to day life stops being a grind and we really start to get productive. And procrastination? Pah, you'll forget the meaning of the word.

In my experience, avoiding certain tasks generally stems from a fear of failing, dislike of the task or a lack of inspiration (just like me and this article). But rather than dwell on the negative and scare ourselves silly with the psychological roots of this habit, tomorrow we will look at some positive and precise ways that you can stop fearing failure, start getting inspired and actively get set to overcome procrastination, so stay tuned.

Click to Read Part Two Now!


Sherin said...

Thank you so much for this. It actually pushed me to finish a piece of coursework that I was putting off for the last 2 weeks.

Voila Megan said...

No problem at all Sherin, it's great to hear that my tips are being put to good use :)

Jacinta said...

That really does make sense, it really REALLY does, like, right now all of my problems stem from something that everyone says I "should" do.

I have been trying to stick it out and this makes me believe I need to break out and do something else.

College Becky said...

Fabulous post! Thank you :-) I am a huge procrastinator and I always get frustrated because I feel like I never have time to get the things done that I want to do. I like how you said that people tend to avoid doing certain things because they fear failure. I definitely agree with this statement. There are many things that I have wanted to do but am scared to because I am worried that I will fail. I think it is time to give those negative thoughts up! Great blog, thank you!

Christina Crowe said...

I love this post! I'm a major procrastinator, and this post has given me the courage to finally do what I've been waiting for so long to do.

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