I am really good at procrastination, unfortunately. With a little help from Partial Passive Income blog, my plan is to break this habit, which is obviously a lot easier said than done. Every now and then I even catch myself procrastinating important tasks by spending time looking for tools to help me stop procrastinating.
Procrastinate to Avoid procrastination
How´s that for an oxymoron? And does this post start to look like an seo optimised blurb for procrastination? Yeah..
According to Wikipedia;
In psychology, procrastination refers to the act of replacing high-priority actions with tasks of lower priority, or doing something from which one derives enjoyment, and thus putting off important tasks to a later time.
I have read I don’t know how many blog posts about procrastination and what to do about it. A lot of ideas are repeated over and over again, and I am often puzzled by some of the suggestions.
Just do it or take action is seriously being misused. If I want information about actions I can take to avoid procrastination, I really don’t need to be informed that I simply should “do it”. “Doing it” is the problem, right. If I am not getting things done, I want to read some ideas as to how I can get it done, and the suggestion is to “do it” – Earth-shattering!
So, how can I break this habit? Apple´s app store is stuffed with cool tools to become more effective, have focus, get things done, etc. But will these tools really enable me to break the bad habit of procrastination? I like to think that I am getting more important stuff done using various apps, than I did before i had them. However, I often procrastinate by spend time looking for new apps. Why? Is it because the current ones didn’t get me to where I would like to be? I don’t really need more features, and a better design shouldn’t really matter too much. So why is it I keep spending my time on this?
The simple reason is that its not the tool that matters anymore, but my mindset. I really don’t need yet another app to help me become more effective. I need to look behind the scene and it all comes down to how I approach things.
I am currently using Things 2 as my to-do-list. This is an awesome app that really does the trick – Keeps track of things I need to do in an effective manner, with a sleek and user-friendly design. I have it both on my mac and my iPhone, so everything is in sync at all times. There is no reason for my to look for another to-do app at this moment. Yet, the other day I stumble upon a review of 2do and I end up testing the app for a trial period. Now I really like it and I am thinking about buying it. This is bad decision is several different ways.
- First of all I have an app that is working perfectly fine, so there is no need to change to a different to-do app.
- Secondly, buying a copy of 2do will end up costing me around $40 as I would want to have it both on my mac and iPhone.
- Finally I would need to spend time, adding all the tasks I have in Things 2 to 2do, which would be a manual task.
Why would I want to spend time and money on this, when I really could and should spend my time on the to-do´s I already have pending in Things 2? For some reason it seems more important to me, to change my to-do tool than completing the to-do´s I already have listed in Things 2. Furthermore, I will fairly confident that switching from Things 2 to 2do wont make me more effective, nor help me break the habit of procrastination.
As mentioned above, I am still using Things 2, and I plan on keeping it that way for now. Although I really like 2do, I need to come up with at least one good reason, before I can justify switching, and right now I cannot think of any.
Although the right tools won’t make me stop procrastinating, its still important in order to list things to be done, give them priorities, etc.
With the right tools in place, how do I go about changing my mindset? Trying to tell myself stuff is important and that I should get it done, doesn’t cut it, often because even if a task is important, its very likely a tedious task.
Answering email is definitely on the top of my list for tedious tasks. I receive emails almost daily about guest posting and advertising possibilities on one of my other sites, and the questions asked are almost the same every single time. If I don’t reply I miss out on potential revenue and content for the site. However, when I do reply, fairly often the advertiser´s interest amounts to nothing and I tend to decline majority of the guest posts sent my way. However, I still don’t want to miss out, as every now and then, I get a good deal, and sometimes I get a guest post which is really interesting and well written.
Hence the obvious solution was to make an email template, so I can reply with a standard email where the only thing to amend, is the name of the receive. All of this sudden, answering these emails takes me less than 10 seconds and because of this, I now reply immediately. The simple and easy solution to get started is to make a template of your latest reply to an email with a question you received more than one time.
This has worked wonders for me, and I will continue to make templates for any email I receive more than once – If I receive the same question twice, there is good chance I will get that very same question again.
A very common advice is to have a deadline for your project, in order to avoid procrastination. This way you know you need to have done certain things before a set date. I do agree that this will improve the process slightly, but not nearly as much as I would like. Having a set date in mind, makes it seem a bit more important and I am a bit more enthusiastic to get it done, but thats it. This is specially true for my own projects, and the reason why this only works to a certain degree is that there is no penalty if the deadline isn’t reached. There is not really a big difference in telling myself that:
- This is important and I need to get it done
- This is important and I need to get it done before tomorrow
The only reason the latter would be more important to me is if I perceive it to be more important. In order for a deadline to be really useful, there has to be an identifiable penalty. Tax return deadlines and monetary penalty is a good example – Get it done or you will have to pay up.
I use deadlines, and although this has improved things slightly, I’m still struggling to get things done. Implementing some sort of monetary penalty should be fairly easy. My brother and I work close together on a couple of projects, and I am fairly sure he wouldn’t mind charging me when I breach my deadlines. A monetary penalty will not be a one-stop solution to the end of procrastination, but I feel confident it will work a lot better than a deadline with no penalty.
Focus & Priority
I come up with (what I think are) good ideas all the time. I cannot remember the last time where I only worked on one project. I don’t think this is a bad thing. However, trying to work on all projects simultaneously gets me nowhere. I need to focus on one project, and unfortunately one day, project A seems more interesting than project B, whereas next week it might be exactly the opposite. With several projects listed in my to-do list, I try to focus on one project until its done and then start the next thing. This is easier said than done, but when I am able to keep my focus on one project for a longer period, the results speak for themselves. The result of say 4 weeks consecutive work on one project is far grater than a total of 4 weeks work separated over a period of 2 month as I need to catch up with where you left the project last time.
Every now and then when I have decided to work on a project, I end up procrastinating by working on one of my other projects. When I have decided to work, procrastinating by working on another project is not as bad as ending up on say Facebook, but its still not optimal. When this happens there might be a reasons to be self-reflective for a minute and think about pros & cons of working on project A compared to project B? If my priority right now is project A, but I end up working on Project B, maybe I should shift my Priority to project B? Initially this might seem trivial as I end up working on project B either way. However, if you shift your priority, you will be in a better position to keep focused where, as mentioned above, results speak for themselves.
Break things down
Nothing calls for procrastination as a huge project where I don’t know where to start. Breaking things down into smaller tasks is a common advice and it works! With a huge project I get stuck as I don’t know where to start, and instead of trying to focus on getting it done, procrastination starts to kick in.
Scott H Young has a blog post dedicated solely to this topic. I cannot write this any better than he did so, read the article here.
*Some activities flow in a logical sequence of steps such as writing an essay. You might first have to do research, followed by organization and finally your rough and good drafts of the finished essay. If you are procrastinating writing that big essay, breaking it down into very small component steps should be your first aim.
A large project can seem overwhelming, but by breaking it down into small tasks, you will get a much better overview. When knowing exactly what to, and knowing that a task will take you a short period of time, it becomes much easier to get done,and thus less likely that you will skip the task for procrastination.
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The above mentioned ideas are actionable and although I still need to experiment with the deadline penalty, I think it will have a positive effect on minimising procrastination.
Now as mentioned in the beginning of this post, I state that Partial Passive Income blog will help me procrastinate less. As this is the early days of PPI Blog, I still need to prove this, but I know that there is no better cure against procrastination, than when I truly feel motivated. As I plan to share details about various projects and the progress of these, here on Partial Passive Income Blog, hopefully I will get feedback from you guys, which should be a motivational factor for me. This is what I expect at least. Time will tell.
I would love to hear how you deal with procrastination.
Do you procrastinate? Do you have an thoughts on how to avoid it? Share your thoughts below.