Every human on this planet has procrastinated at some point in their life. If they haven’t, it is likely their biggest flex. Now, let’s not confuse procrastination with laziness. While both do have the common denominator of not doing anything, lazy people are fine with the situation on hand. Procrastinators, on the other hand, want to do something useful but just cannot get themselves to start, so the trick is figuring out how to end procrastination.
So, if you have ever put off a meaningful task and instead done something less important only to end up talking yourself into believing you’re lazy, put that self-depreciation talk away.
Also, keep in mind, procrastination is not relaxing. When being “booked and busy” is the trend, the unhealthy mindset often makes people feel guilty if they take time off. I know this because I am guilty as charged. Simply put—relaxing recharges us and procrastination drains us.
If you have trouble persuading yourself to do things you would like to or should do, welcome to the club of procrastinators.
I want to help you get rid of this habit of putting things off intentionally or habitually, so I present these six psychologically proven tricks to end procrastination:
Trick 1: Reward Yourself
One of the leading causes of procrastination is lack of discipline. While pursuing my bachelor’s degree in psychology, the best thing I ever learned was the types of motivation:
- Extrinsic motivation (behaviors motivated by external rewards)
- Goal-based motivation
- Intrinsic motivation (behaviors with no obvious external rewards).
Our aim should always be for intrinsic motivation. But when we are already suffering from a lack of discipline, getting on the intrinsic motivation bandwagon can be hard. It’s not a horrible idea to start with extrinsic motivation to develop intrinsic motivation.
For example: If you have a hard time putting your phone away, try telling yourself how you’ll reward yourself with binge-watching your favourite Netflix TV Series or YouTube Cat Videos after you’ve finished the task at hand. Reward yourself until you develop the habit of getting motivated from the inside (intrinsic motivation).
Trick 2: 2 Minute Pieces
Regardless of why you’re trying to get rid of procrastination, this habit is going to save your life. Ask yourself, can you do a task at hand in under 2 minutes? If the answer is yes, do it right away.
Putting off a tiny task that literally takes 2 minutes can snowball into hours and before you know it, that one task has ruined your entire schedule.
Here’s a classic example: doing the dishes. We often leave that one bowl and spoon to clean up “later,” then in the blink of an eye, the sink is full of dishes and you’re regretting life.
But if you would have washed that first spoon and bowl that would literally take less than 2 minutes, you would have avoided the mess you find yourself cleaning hours (or days) later.
Trick 3: Sharing Goals
Now, this might not be a trick for everyone out there. But this is the thing about tricks—it’s all about trial and error. Do whatever works for you and leave the rest. For some people, sharing goals with others motivates them to work harder.
Sharing a goal often makes people feel accountable. They have someone waiting for them to finish that goal. It works as motivation, especially if you share that goal with someone you hold in high regard. We always want the people we hold in high regard to think well of us. Sharing goals motivate us to finish our task because we care what this person thinks of us.
There are studies that claim that sharing your goals can be disastrous. It can be in certain situations, like if you feel pressured. But this trick, like trick 1, is for those who have trouble in getting into the habit of intrinsic motivation.
And here’s a little insider tip: Always keep your big goals a secret. It’s okay to share the little ones.
Trick 4: Start Fresh
We have a habit of working in the same space. Naturally, we develop a habit of procrastinating in the same space as well. The idea is to break the cycle. If you sit in one spot every day, only to end up procrastinating, switch your spot.
Really, we just need to trick our brains into thinking we are starting fresh. Take a walk, a shower, listen to new music, anything that would trick your brain into thinking you’re starting fresh. It refreshes us and when we get back to the task, more often than not, we end up being more productive. Remember, this trick is all about breaking the cycle.
Trick 5: The Seinfeld Method
While the previous trick to end procrastination was about breaking cycles, this one is about making one. The Seinfeld method is so simple that you might be skeptical, but you’ll be shocked to learn of its powers.
The Seinfeld method is a powerful tool to develop habits and stay consistent with your goals. We often start something with great gusto, but as life gets in the way, end up abandoning it.
This method is named after comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who once gave away the secret to his success: “consistency.” He knew he needed a system to keep him motivated and accountable, even when things got hard.
All you need to do is track your progress in a simple and concrete way. Set up a goal, break it down into a daily routine, set up a calendar on which you can tick off your daily progress. The calendar should be visually right in front of you. This keeps you accountable, gives you motivation, and is easy to use.
Any writer who has ever taken part in NaNoWriMo knows how this works. Except a lot of writers cannot get through NaNoWriMo because it is present digitally. Remember to keep this calendar in front of you in physical form.
Trick 6: Daily To-Do List
If you’re one of those people who love striking things off your to-do list, this tip is for you. Make a daily to-do list instead of making a longer one.
Seeing a long to-do list can be overwhelming and give rise to procrastination.
A daily to-do list can help prioritize tasks, limit new tasks, and stay focused on urgent tasks. Managing one day at a time is less stressful and less tiring.
That’s it! The 6 simple but effective psychologically proven tricks to end procrastination for once and for all.
The P-word might look like a huge fire-breathing monster with fangs that have gulped down the elixir of immortality. But don’t forget, all of us are the protagonists of our stories. And what does a protagonist never do? Give up.
Tell us in the comments: How are you going to end procrastination in 2022?
Disha Walia is a lifelong storyteller and an enthusiastic writer and editor in love with the idea of exploring the creative world of words. While making her space in the world of non-fiction and fiction alike, Disha loves to spend even her free time daydreaming about what next to write. Connect with her on www.quillinary.com. You can also follow her on Instagram (@quillinary) and Twitter (@quillinary).