How to overcome procrastination?
Procrastination Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now
Jane B. Burka and Lenora M. Yuen
In my last essay “Do you have procrastination? Why you do it?”, I focused on what procrastination is and the causes of procrastination. Here, I will introduce the authors’ suggestions on how to overcome procrastination, other people, and my experience of fighting procrastination.
There are plenty of methods, suggestions, and tips on how to overcome procrastination provided by the authors. I have summarized three aspects that I think are important.
Know yourself. When we figure out what causes our procrastination, we have a better understanding of ourselves. It’s important that we can accept ourselves as we are, not as what we want or think. We need to know ourselves honestly, realistically, and accept it. One well-known quote from psychoanalyst Carl Jung is that “The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.”(C.G.Jung, nd). It is the terrible process of accepting oneself all the defects, wounds, scars, but also allows people get relieved from it. When we are fearful, the brain’s first response is to inhibit. We need to learn to face and accept our fear and weaknesses. With certain continuous exercise (for instance, creating a new habit), our brain will establish new neural connections, and our weaknesses will be decreased.
Make clear goals and feasible plans. We all know the importance of planning. The plan is to bring the future into the present. Unplanned or too loose plans may make you crazy at the last moment, while too strict plans are inflexible. So, when planning, you need to consider possible unexpected situations and make a plan B just in case. The goal should be specific and clear. The plan should be able to break down into several small steps with awards. It’s better the first step is easy to reach and can be completed in a short time.
When I have a lot of new ideas about life, want to learn this, want to do that. It’s too far and the deadline is not clearly set leads me couldn’t take action. Improper timing, place, or environment are my excuses. It is conceivable that the motivation has been declined. In this case, the short-term and concrete schedule with a clear target could push it to go forward.
Learn to manage your energy. It is not only time management. Find your best working time in the day. Learn to use fragmented time instead of passively waiting for a whole period. Take care of your health. Prioritize your tasks and enjoy your free time. Sports will stimulate the body to produce endorphins, which help to increase pleasure and well-being. Besides, the authors also suggest doing meditation to feel the flow of thoughts.
Making changes and learning a new mode of behavior is a gradual process. In the book, the authors introduced four stages of competence developed by Noel Burch (Chapter 10). See Figure 1.
Figure 1. Four Stages of Competence
The process is from ignoring the consequences of not doing something to being aware of the cost of continuing to remain unchanged. Then committed to accomplishing those things that should be done till it has become a habit to accomplish something that should be done. In the beginning, we may not realize the impact of procrastination on us; as time accumulates, we find that we are plagued by procrastination and realize that we need to make changes; then, we begin to look for methods to improve; after conscious persistence, we finally get rid of procrastination.
In the end
“We always do what we can easily control first. We have been procrastinating those we know we can’t escape in the end. This is a part of human weakness, and it is entrenched in many people’s minds.” This is quoted from a Chinese podcast channel called Logical Thinking. In the program, he told that he doesn’t believe any methods I listed above and also in many other procrastination books. It’s easy to say not to blame yourself to reduce self-esteem, don’t put too high expectations, you need better discipline. But it doesn’t apply to everyone. You have to figure out your own solution while against procrastination. Many facts show that creative work causes procrastination easily.
I am a procrastinator for many years. Especially for writing essays, it’s something I must do but my mind resists it deeply. When I was searching for procrastination-related books, surprisingly I found a Procrastination Mutual Support Group and they translated this book from English into Chinese in order to prove their achievements. Obviously, the power of community is effective in helping with procrastination. Moreover, the authors of this book mentioned that they have had procrastination as well even when they were writing the book. That makes me think could the anxiety for procrastination be transformed into motivation? To what extent can anxiety be transformed into motivation? It would be interesting to explore it in the future. In addition, deadlines and punishment work for me such as the essay case. Maybe because it’s clear and controlled by others. How about if there is no deadline that restricts the tasks, can procrastinators be motivated to accomplish any of their procrastinated tasks?
One interesting idea I have heard about solving procrastination is structural procrastination. If you have procrastination already, why not take it in an efficient way, to prioritize the procrastinated tasks, put the least want to do task aside, and take this chance to complete other procrastinated tasks first? Actually, my house cleaning, bill paying are done with this method which I consider as compensation in mind and it might be able to release the anxious feeling at some level. So anxiety level can go down a bit. Procrastinators are absolute risk-takers. Once the task is not completed by the deadline, the consequences may be catastrophic. But it probably has been practiced countless times in the procrastinators’ heads, sometimes, maybe let procrastination go with your confidence and ability, accept yourself, and believe in yourself.
After reading this book, I get a deeper understanding of myself. Especially the previous chapters hit my heart many times. It made me understand the causes of procrastination, review my past self, and start to learn if I could use the methods suggested in the book to overcome procrastination. Properly reconciling with myself is another conclusion I came up with. I recommend this book to everyone who is troubled by procrastination.
C.G.Jung, no date. “The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely”. Read 10.12.2021