Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around. – Tom Cruise – Vanilla Sky (2001)
Do You Persistently Struggle with Procrastination?
Do you persistently struggle with procrastination? Is procrastination robbing you of the opportunity to achieve your goals? Do you regularly succumb to a myriad of excuses, habits, thoughts, and fears that are slowly but surely stealing your life and time away?
If this sounds like you, then it might give you a little comfort to know that you are not alone. In fact, you are part of the majority who struggle with procrastination every single day.
All these people try and try to overcome this debilitating habit, but nothing ever seems to work. They make progress one day, then fall back into the same old patterns the very next day. It’s as though they’re caught up in this perpetual cycle that sabotages their progress.
Why is that? Why do so many people tend to struggle with procrastination while others seem to have no problems? Is there even an answer to this question?
I hope to answer these and other questions in this article. Specifically, we will attempt to break down procrastination in the following way:
- We’ll explore the habitual procrastination cycle, including the myriad of reasons that tend to trigger this unproductive state.
- We’ll walk through the theory and evolution of motivation and then discuss how you can use it to defeat procrastination.
- We’ll also take a broader and more reflective look at the specific process of motivation for overcoming procrastination.
- And finally, we’ll identify some critical ongoing motivational maintenance strategies, characteristics, skills, and tools that will help keep you on track as you work toward your goals.
But before we get started, let’s first define what it means to procrastinate:
Procrastination is the act of prioritizing less urgent and more pleasurable tasks over the more important stuff.
In other words, procrastination grows from our inability to prioritize effectively. And this failure to prioritize stems from either a fear of doing something, from unreasonable expectations or simply because we haven’t generated enough reasons to get the job done.
We’ll explore all this and more as we delve into the debilitating nature of procrastination.
The Myriad of Reasons We Get Caught Up in Procrastination
For every action, there is a cause — a trigger of sorts that instantly bring about choices, decisions, and actions that result in a myriad of consequences.
For many of us, these triggers aren’t so easy to recognize or manage. And this is the reason why we get caught up in procrastination.
On the other hand, some people recognize these triggers as a cause of their procrastinating. And with recognition comes power. The power to change and take steps that can help free ourselves from the procrastination cycle.
In this section, let’s break down the numerous intrinsic and extrinsic triggers that often trigger the habit of procrastination. These triggers include:
- Fear Driven Procrastination Triggers
- Action Driven Procrastination Triggers
- Habit Driven Procrastination Triggers
- Feeling Driven Procrastination Triggers
- Lack Driven Procrastination Triggers
- Life Dissatisfaction Triggers
- Childhood Programming Triggers
As you work your way through these triggers, progressively tick off which ones are currently leading you down the procrastination spiral.
Fear Driven Procrastination Triggers
Our fears are seemingly uncontrollable aspects of our lives that cause us a great deal of discomfort and pain. And yet, we actually have far more control over our fears than we realize.
Let’s break down five specific fears and discuss how they relate back to the habit of procrastination. These fears include:
- The Fear of Success
- The Fear of Failure
- The Fear of Conflict
- The Fear of Judgment
- The Fear of the Unknown
Procrastination is most commonly associated with the FEAR OF SUCCESS. When you fear success, you tend to purposefully place obstacles, roadblocks, and problems along your path. You do this because you’re afraid of the possible changes that could take place if you were to succeed.
The fear of success often leads to unproductive habits and behaviors. You will, for instance, try and keep yourself busy with trivial tasks and activities. You indulge in these activities because you’re afraid of making progress toward your desired outcomes.
On the other hand, the FEAR OF FAILURE manifests when you indulge in perfectionism or succumb to unresourceful emotions. These emotions will tend to send you down an uncontrollable spiral that descends deeper into the habit of procrastination.
When you fear failure you kind of feel inadequate. You struggle because you’re afraid you won’t live up to the lofty standards you’ve set for yourself. This leads to hesitant and cautious behavior, which typically results in inaction or manifests as perfectionism where you tend to spend more time on activities than necessary.
At times, we succumb to procrastination because we struggle to successfully deal with the FEAR OF CONFLICT. In other words, we fear the possible conflict that could arise from a specific decision or action.
This conflict can, of course, be external — involving other people. Or it can be internal where we struggle with a conflict of interest. Kind of like being in two minds about something.
Related to the fear of conflict is the FEAR OF JUDGMENT. Here you procrastinate because you worry about what other people will think of you or your behavior.
If you catch yourself thinking more about what others think rather than focusing on the task at hand, then you are at that moment indulging in the fear of judgment.
Finally, the FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN is intrinsically connected to all the above-mentioned fears.
What all the above fears have in common has very much to do with the unknown and uncertainty.
Uncertainty tends to hold people back from taking the necessary steps that could help them accomplish their goals.
When we suffer from a fear of the unknown, we tend to be very indecisive with our actions. As a result, we will typically go to extra lengths to distract ourselves from doing the important “uncertain” stuff that would move our goals forward. Subsequently, we focus on the little stuff that gives us some semblance of certainty and control.
This is all well and good, however, our actions are no longer aligned with our long-term goals and objectives. They will, therefore, tend to lead us astray over the long-run.
Remember that focusing on the small irrelevant stuff is a sign of procrastination, not progress.
Action Driven Procrastination Triggers
Some forms of procrastination are driven and evolve through action. These action driven procrastination triggers include:
Perfectionism involves indulging in meticulous and irrelevant tasks and activities that don’t add any value to your end goal.
Some would say that perfectionism is a disease of the mind similar to how a person suffering from anorexia sees themselves in a mirror.
A person who struggles with anorexia looks into a mirror and sees an overweight, obese person staring back at them. They subsequently starve themselves in an attempt to lose a few extra pounds they see bulging from their waistlines.
However, as we know, this is only an illusion. It’s a trick their mind plays on them. And the same is true when it comes to perfectionism.
A person who indulges in perfectionism is never quite satisfied that anything they do is ever quite good enough to reach a stage of implementation.
They will redo the same activity or task over and over again with perfection in mind. What they don’t realize is that perfectionism is actually in the eyes of the beholder. What admittedly seems quite imperfect to them, may, in fact, be perfect to somebody else.
It can be helpful to keep in mind that 20 percent of our activities will often produce 80 percent of our results. This is known as the Pareto Principle.
So, if your goal is to generate maximum results with the least amount of work, then you need to find the 20 percent of things to do that will help you produce those results. And, overplanning is probably not one of those activities.
When you over-plan you overwhelm yourself by overthinking about what you’re doing. This subsequently leads to minimal progress being made toward your goal.
Planning is unquestionably an essential aspect of goal setting. However, if all you do is merely plan, then you are no longer planning but rather procrastinating.
Ideally, you should schedule a time to outline your desired plan of action. Spend no more time than is necessary to help you get started. Then, once you begin, don’t be tempted to look back.
The act of looking back at your plan, time and again, is what typically stifles motivation and manifests as procrastination.
Another very subtle form of procrastination results from when we overwork ourselves.
Our bodies are biological mechanisms that have pre-programmed set limits. When we overwork ourselves, we deplete our resources and, thereby, experience a period of withdrawal. This period of withdrawal leads to stagnation where we’re simply unable to unleash the motivation we need to continue pursuing our goals and objectives.
The key is, of course, to schedule regular periods of downtime throughout the day.
Habit Driven Procrastination Triggers
Our procrastination can also come in the form ritualistic habits of behavior that tend to go unnoticed. We fail to recognize them because their patterns are so very deeply ingrained in our psyche.
These self-sabotaging habits can lead to uncontrollable spirals of procrastination that are extremely difficult to recognize.
We don’t recognize them because they are deeply ingrained instincts that are hidden away in the recesses of our subconscious mind.
Many habits can trigger these unresourceful states, however, for the purpose of this discussion, let’s just take a look at three of the most common habits of procrastination. These include:
- The Impossible Expectations
- Guilt-Driven Self-Talk and Criticism
- Low Self-Esteem
Our expectations are nothing more but possibilities that we allow to shape our reality. They are like a barometer that determines where we will be tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year.
Many of us fall into the trap of setting the expectation bar so high that we rob ourselves of the chance of ever meeting those expectations.
This tends to lead us down a spiral of deflating emotional experiences that eventually manifest as procrastinating habits that pull us away from our goals and objectives.
The language patterns we use are also intrinsically connected to our emotional patterns of behavior. These behaviors are, likewise, intertwined with our emotional experiences. And our emotional experiences influence the actions we take each day.
Given this, is it any surprise that some people are incredibly proficient at talking themselves into procrastination?
Through the clever use of guilt-driven self-talk and self-criticism, these people quickly suffocate their motivation, which subsequently leads to intense feelings of inadequacy. In this state-of-mind, they fail to find the answers they need to escape the procrastination cycle.
What’s more, is that this guilt-driven self-talk and self-criticism eventually leads to habitual bouts of low self-esteem.
Holding onto this debilitating state-of-mind makes everything seem much more difficult and arduous. All this, of course, quickly cycles down through to procrastination, and may even lead to far more severe repercussions that eventually manifest as depression.
Feeling Driven Procrastination Triggers
As we go about our day, we are confronted with a variety of changing conditions and circumstances.
Every event, scenario, and/or person we face awakens within us a plethora of emotions. And, it’s these emotions that can sometimes trigger cycles of procrastination.
Many of our painful emotional experiences manifest from our inability to handle our life circumstances in optimal ways.
Unable to control these external events, we quickly succumb to painful emotions that dig us deeper into the depths of procrastination.
Four debilitating emotions that often trigger bouts of procrastination include:
Whenever we try and tackle more than we can handle, we typically experience overwhelm.
As this emotion begins to take hold, we quickly remove ourselves from our tasks and objectives. This, of course, pulls us away from our highest priority activities and results in procrastination.
While experiencing overwhelm, it’s difficult to continue working on our goals. We will, therefore, continue to suffer bouts of procrastination until we finally figure out how to manage this emotion.
If we tend to struggle with overwhelm for an extended period of time, then this can typically lead to a feeling of inadequacy.
We feel inadequate when we find ourselves incapable of dealing with the challenges, problems, and obstacles that life throws our way.
To deal with inadequacy, we may choose to focus on easy tasks and activities that just keep us busy. Focusing on these activities may make us feel more confident and capable, however, unfortunately, they don’t add any value to your goals.
Unable to make any real progress toward our goal, we naturally become frustrated.
Frustration manifests when our ability to perform a specific task or activity fails to meet our expectations of that activity. In other words, we expect for things to go one way, but for one reason or another they don’t work out as anticipated.
As an isolated state, frustration is a good place to be, as long as we don’t allow it to get the better of us. The moment it spirals out of control is the moment our frustrations can manifest into a fear of failure that can ravage our efforts in incredible ways.
The final emotional state that frequently leads to bouts of procrastination is boredom.
We tend to procrastinate when we’re bored. Boredom is triggered when we undertake easy repetitive tasks and activities for extended periods of time. As such, it often evolves from the feeling of inadequacy.
To overcome this spiral, we just need to spice up our activities by adding a little more intellectual and emotional stimulation. When things are fun, they always get done!
Lack Driven Procrastination Triggers
Certain types of procrastination triggers come about because there’s just something lacking in our lives. These things can, of course, be mental or they can come in physical form, including:
- A Lack of Focus
- A Lack of Self-Confidence
- A Lack of Adequate Resources
- A Lack of Purpose and Direction
First up, we tend to succumb to procrastination because of a lack of focus. We lose focus when we try and concentrate on too many things at once. As a result, there is a myriad of distractions competing for our attention. This is especially prevalent when we don’t take the time to clearly define our goals and objectives.
The second trigger for procrastination is a lack of confidence. A lack of confidence in ourselves, in our ability to perform a task, in our skill, knowledge, experience, etc., can trigger bouts of procrastination.
It’s, however, important to remind ourselves that self-confidence is nothing more but a state-of-mind.
The solution is to identify the areas that you’re not feeling confident about and then draw up a plan of action to build your self-confidence in these areas of your life.
The third trigger for procrastination comes about when we lack the resources we need to achieve our goals or finalize a project or task.
If you find yourself procrastinating because you lack vital resources, then you must find a way to acquire them. Whether you need tools, skills, support, or more experience in a particular area, just go out there and obtain the resources you need to achieve your goals.
The fourth trigger for procrastination comes about when we lack purpose and direction in life. In such instances, we simply don’t have a driving vision or personal legend that propels us forward. As a result, we just can’t muster up the motivation we need to stay focused for extended periods of time.
When we have no specific direction, we struggle to find our way. As a result, we tend to focus our time on pointless activities that provide very little value or tangible results. This can lead to periods of “busyness” that wastes precious energy and time on activities that have no real purpose or long-term value.
Life Dissatisfaction Triggers
When we feel unfulfilled with certain aspects of our lives, this can lead to uncharacteristic choices and decisions that sabotage our progress and leads us down the procrastination spiral.
Being unfulfilled in our relationships, with our careers, or just with life in general, can distract us from high priority activities that would typically further our success in these areas.
If you’re finding yourself feeling overwhelmed with dissatisfaction in any specific life area, then you must begin focusing on finding more happiness and fulfillment within that area. Otherwise, remove yourself mentally from these experiences and focus on whatever you need to do to move your life forward in an optimal way.
Childhood Programming Triggers
The final trigger for procrastination comes in the form of childhood programming.
Procrastination often evolves through a set of interlinking childhood experiences that we naturally accepted into our psyche at an early age. These are very much unconscious experiences that we persistently struggle with over the course of our lives.
The Two Types of Motivation that Spark Proactive Action
Motivation and procrastination sit on opposite sides of the psychological spectrum. However, even though they are world’s apart, they are very similar in nature.
What motivates us can also trigger procrastination. And what leads to procrastination can even drive us forward. It just depends on how we interpret our experiences along with the events and circumstances of our lives.
Given this, motivation also has specific triggers. And when these triggers are correctly activated, they can help us break out of unproductive states that lead to procrastination.
With this in mind, there are two types of motivation that can inspire us to take proactive action. Understanding these two motivation types will help you to make better use of the motivation strategies that follow.
First, we have intrinsic motivation. This is a state of motivation that is internally generated. It stems from personal enjoyment of an activity or from a sense of obligation.
You motivate yourself intrinsically by finding personal benefit, enjoyment or significance in the task or activity you partake in. This is the more powerful of the two motivation types and doesn’t require external validation.
Using the Smart Goal Setting Process is an example of intrinsic motivation. Setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timed helps awaken intrinsic motivation.
Secondly, we have extrinsic motivation. This is a state of motivation that is externally generated. It stems from objects, other people, and the environment.
You become motivated extrinsically when your task or activity benefits others, results in material gains or presents you with favorable circumstances. This is the weaker of the two motivation types and requires external validation.
External rewards are an example of extrinsic motivation.
Over the past hundred years, psychological studies have shown time and again that rewards used as tools for reinforcing resourceful behavior do indeed help build high levels of motivation. The only exception is when subjects undertook creative tasks. In such instances, rewards didn’t work because the participants were motivated intrinsically.
Finding Your Motivation Using the Six Human Needs
Our Six Human Needs are deeply ingrained psychological aspects of our lives that we seek to satisfy as we go about our day.
When our daily actions fulfill each of the six human needs at a high enough level, we naturally feel more motivated and inspired. On the other hand, when these human needs are left unfulfilled, that is when we typically struggle to find the motivation we need to get stuff done. Furthermore, it can lead us down a spiral of procrastination and low self-esteem.
With that in mind, let’s explore the six human needs and how you can use them to overcome procrastination and instill motivation. However, please keep in mind that to stimulate high levels of motivation, you will need to integrate as many of the human needs into your daily undertakings as possible. The more, the better.
Satisfying the Need for Certainty
When we’re sure about our outcome, we naturally find the motivation needed to persist and persevere while facing adversity.
Because our objective is within our reach, this provides us with a sense of confidence that things will work out in the end.
To instill this feeling of certainty, you must work on clarifying your goals. Furthermore, work on upgrading your weaknesses, skills, and resources. This will help you gain a greater sense of confidence while in the pursuit of your objectives. Ask yourself:
Does the task or activity I’m trying to avoid provide me with a sense of certainty?
If not, then you must find ways to infuse a sense of certainty, otherwise, fear may overwhelm you, and you could subsequently succumb to procrastination.
Satisfying the Need for Uncertainty
When we’re somewhat uncertain about our outcome, this generally creates intrigue, excitement, and motivation to persist and persevere toward our goal.
This is in some ways contradictory to the first human need. However, a more in-depth analysis reveals that we do indeed require some uncertainty. Otherwise, boredom can ensue, and procrastination might soon follow.
To instill this feeling of uncertainty, you must work on spicing up your task or activity in unexpected ways to generate some needed excitement. Ask yourself:
Does the task or activity I’m trying to avoid provide me with a sense of uncertainty and excitement?
If not, then you must find ways to infuse a sense of uncertainty, otherwise, boredom might overwhelm you, and you could subsequently succumb to procrastination.
Satisfying the Need for Connection
When we have an intrinsic connection with our outcome, this typically inspires motivation, irrelevant of the obstacles that stand in our way.
Connecting to your outcome means finding meaning and purpose in every action you take.
To instill this feeling of connection, you must find your WHY. In other words, explore why you want to achieve your desired outcome.
The more WHYS you are able to generate, the more connected you will feel to the task at hand and the higher level of motivation you will unearth. Ask yourself:
Does the task or activity I’m trying to avoid provide me with a sense of connection?
If not, then you must uncover ways to find that connection, otherwise, your disconnected feelings and emotions will lead to a lack of focus and direction.
Satisfying the Need for Significance
When we feel that our outcome is of significance, this naturally enhances our motivation levels irrelevant of the obstacles we face.
To build significance, you must have a driving purpose, goal, vision, and objective that propels every task and project forward. In other words, you must work with a little pride.
The bigger the objective and vision, the more significance it will instill within you. Subsequently, the deeper the levels of motivation and passion you are likely to experience. Ask yourself:
Does the task or activity I’m trying to avoid provide me with a sense of significance?
If not, then you must find ways to instill a sense of significance into every task, otherwise, inadequacy and overwhelm might set in.
Satisfying the Need for Growth
When we feel that our outcome provides us with a sense of growth, this naturally enhances our level of motivation irrelevant of the obstacles we may face.
To inspire a sense of growth, you must commit yourself to taking a long-term view of your goals, tasks, projects, and objectives.
Gather every learning experience you can from even the most mundane tasks. Now, project yourself into the future and imagine how you will utilize this new found knowledge to further your long-term goals and objectives. Ask yourself:
Does the task or activity I’m trying to avoid provide me with a sense of growth?
If not, then you must find ways to instill a sense of growth into every task. Otherwise, you may ultimately lose focus of the bigger picture. This could subsequently, lead to distractions and procrastination could ensue.
Satisfying the Need for Contribution
When we feel that our outcome leads to a sense of contribution it naturally inspires motivation, irrelevant of the obstacles we may face.
To build a sense of contribution, you must extend your perspective outwards beyond your self. Consider how the task or activity you’re undertaking benefits others and the world around you.
This may, of course, not be easy to do while undertaking seemingly trivial tasks. However, even seemingly insignificant events or actions affect the world in unexpected ways. Find out more by reading about The Butterfly Effect. Now, ask yourself:
Does the task or activity I’m trying to avoid provide me with a sense of contribution?
If not, then you must find ways to instill a sense of contribution into every task. Otherwise, you may lack the intrinsic motivation needed to pursue your goal.
BONUS: Satisfying the Need for Fun
When we feel that our outcome leads to a sense of fun and laughter, then this naturally enhances our levels of motivation, irrelevant of the obstacles we may face.
To build a sense of fun and laughter, brainstorm ideas on how you could potentially turn your tasks into a game. This is in someways related to the need for uncertainty. Ask yourself:
Does the task or activity I’m trying to avoid provide me with a sense of fun?
If not, then you must find ways to instill a sense of fun into every task and activity. Otherwise, boredom may lead you down the spiral of procrastination.
BONUS: Satisfying the Need for Freedom
When we feel that our outcome leads to a sense of freedom, that automatically inspires motivation, irrelevant of the obstacles we might face.
To build a sense of freedom, you mustn’t allow yourself to get too absorbed or overwhelmed by your daily tasks and activities. Otherwise, your sense of freedom will dissipate, and you will suffer the consequences of procrastination.
You must, instead, focus on scheduling regular breaks and learning new skills that will help you to better manage your time, tasks, and activities. Ask yourself:
Does the task or activity I’m trying to avoid provide me with a sense of freedom?
If not, then you must find ways to instill a sense of freedom into every task. Otherwise, the feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, frustration, and stress will chain you up like a prisoner to the habit of procrastination.
Five Steps to Help You Find Your Motivation
Having already identified how motivation is triggered, let’s now take a closer look at the motivation process. Specifically, let’s take a look at how you can best put this method to use to help you break free from the procrastination cycle.
Before digging into these steps, it’s vital to mention that finding our motivation isn’t always a very straightforward process. It ain’t straightforward because of the conflicting interests of our conscious brain and unconscious mind.
The conflicting interests of our conscious brain and unconscious mind can in many instances create contradictory motivations for our behaviors. This can, subsequently, send us down the spiral of procrastination at one moment and up the escalator of motivation a moment later.
These conflicts have to do with how our mind has been conditioned to think and deal with the events and circumstances of our lives over time.
We won’t get into the nitty-gritty of these conflicts in this article. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these conflicts do exist. Therefore, if at any time you’re struggling to find your motivation while working through this process, then it could be a direct result of the conflicting motivations that are sabotaging your progress.
With that said, let’s jump into the five-step process that will help you find your motivation.
Step 1: The Analysis Stage
During this first stage, you will identify the psychological and real-world triggers that send you either down the spiral of procrastination or up the escalator of motivation.
Here, your objective is to create a time-log that will help you grasp a complete understanding of your habitual patterns of behavior.
Keeping a successful time-log requires that you move through four distinct stages.
- The first stage is to keep track of your activities. You need to measure these activities in 15 minutes blocks throughout the day. In other words, jot down what you’re working on every 15 minutes.
- Secondly, besides each 15-minute block, identify the health of your energy. This requires merely jotting down a label of high, moderate or low that corresponds to your energy levels.
- Thirdly, pay attention to any procrastination triggers or periods of the day where you struggled and found it difficult to motivate yourself. Having identified these triggers, jot them down on your time-log.
- Finally, do the same for motivation triggers. These could simply be random feelings, people, actions or events that provided you with a rush of energy or inspiration throughout the day.
Having compiled your weekly time-log report, spend a moment analyzing the data and identify the habitual patterns of behavior that resulted in inspired proactive action. Now, keep these results in mind as you move through the remainder of this process.
Step 2: The Thinking Stage
Having reached the thinking stage, your first task is to clarify your goals on paper.
Setting motivating and inspiring goals that are written out on paper can help build long-lasting motivation.
Take time to go through the goal-setting process. This will help you get very clear about the goals you would like to achieve. Ask yourself:
For what purpose would I like to utilize my time?
What specific goal would I like to achieve?
Having clarified your goals, it’s now time to dedicate yourself to visualizing your goal in your mind’s eye.
Psychological studies have consistently shown that the human brain cannot tell the difference between an object that is visualized in the imagination compared to one that is observed in the physical world.
As you visualize your outcome in advance, you are at that moment planting the seed of lasting motivation in your psyche. And all this happens before you even take a single physical step toward your goal.
It’s important though that you refrain from rationalizing. When you rationalize you place roadblocks and psychological barriers ahead on your path. And this can very quickly lead to procrastination.
Consider for a moment that the excuses you make are nothing more than irrational projections of your mind. They convince you that you’re not capable or deserving of success.
Don’t get caught up in these types of rationalizations. They won’t help you achieve your goals.
Here are several examples of irrational thoughts and projections that typically result in procrastination:
It’s not that important right now…
Do I really need this anyway?
I don’t know what to do…
I’m just too tired right now…
It’s too difficult because…
It takes too long because…
I will do it tomorrow because…
The most reliable way to move beyond your irrational thoughts and excuses is to ask useful questions that focus your mind on solutions, benefits, and proactive action.
Questions are very much like beacons that allow you to direct your thoughts in ways that promote more profound levels of motivation. In fact, your solution-focused questions are akin to a food source that helps you maintain peak states and high levels of motivation.
If you continuously ask solution-focused questions, they will inspire you to take proactive action. If on the other hand, you ask debilitating questions that are focused on problems and excuses, then this will often result in procrastination.
One way to avoid falling into this trap is to use the pain and pleasure principle.
The pain and pleasure principle will primarily help you gain the leverage you need to overcome procrastination. In fact, we use this principle each day without even realizing it.
Every day you take action because of the short or long-term pleasure that may result from taking that action. On the other hand, you also act or refrain from acting due to the short or long-term pain that you associate with an experience.
To find your motivation, you need to associate pleasure with actions that move your goals forward, while at the same time associating significant pain to the habit of procrastination.
All this mainly comes down to asking the right kinds of questions, then visualizing your desired outcomes associated with each experience.
Step 3: The Preparation Stage
Unless you prepare yourself adequately for what’s to come, then you may find yourself struggling with indecision, which could trigger periods of procrastination.
Before any action is taken, you need to make sure that you have the necessary tools, skills, support, and resources required to get the job done. Without these resources on hand, you may struggle when unexpected obstacles arise.
Sometimes we procrastinate because we simply haven’t taken the time to prepare the tools we need to effectively deal with the task at hand. At other times, we just don’t have the required skills or adequate support to get a task or project off the ground.
If you struggle with uncertainty or just don’t have the self-confidence needed to get the job done, then this could possibly mean that you lack the tools, knowledge, experience, support or key skills in this area.
Take a moment to project yourself forward into the future and figure out exactly what type of tools, skills, and support you will need to help you accomplish your tasks and objectives. Ask yourself:
What kind of tools might I need to accomplish my tasks and objectives?
What kind of skills might it be helpful to master before tacking this task or project?
What support might I need to help me accomplish this in the most efficient way possible?
Once you’ve identified what’s required, go out there and spend a little time building up your skills, knowledge, and experience. However, be sure to do this in moderation. All that may be required is a little knowledge and experience to help get the ball rolling.
If, however, you’re still struggling, then make sure to seek out additional support. This might initially involve taking the time to create a stable and reliable support network of people, community, family, and friends that you can turn to in times of need.
Identify the types of people you need within your circle of influence that could potentially help you accomplish your goals and objectives. Identify their strengths, their knowledge, and the skills they possibly have that you could utilize.
Sometimes it could be as simple as having an accountability partner who just keeps you on track as you work toward your goal. While at other times, all you may need is a sounding-board. Just having someone there who will listen and provide you with a different point of view can very quickly become a game changer.
Step 4: The Finding Your Motivation Stage
Here, you must now utilize the myriad of tools, techniques, and strategies discussed in this article to help you find the motivation you need to achieve your goals.
Action without motivation is fruitless and will be entirely ineffective in helping you build the momentum you need to reach your goals in quick succession.
Think of your “actions” as a bowling ball. Without motivation, you will be unable to give it the force it needs to strike down the tenpins. However, with enough motivation supporting your actions, it will have the necessary momentum and force needed to knock down the tenpins on the very first try.
Step 5: The Taking Massive Action Stage
The final stage of this process requires taking massive action toward the attainment of your goal. But, how exactly do we do this? Well, we can actually do it in seven specific ways:
- Take Imperfect Action
- Take Action Using Small Chunks
- Act with a Passionate Disposition
- Act in a Process-Oriented Way
- Make the Process Enjoyable
- Focus on the Hardest Task First
- Follow the 11 Minute Rule for Productivity
First up, your actions must be imperfect. There is no room for perfectionism if you aspire to achieve your goals. However, being imperfect doesn’t mean being careless.
Being imperfect instead means being thorough with your planning and actions to the extent where it doesn’t interfere with the task or goal you’re working on.
Next, your actions must be undertaken in small manageable chunks.
Often people succumb to procrastination because they take on more than they can handle. They subsequently struggle with overwhelm, which soon pulls them down the procrastination rabbit hole.
To overcome overwhelm, be sure to break down your tasks into small manageable chunks that you can tackle one piece at a time.
Another useful method for beating overwhelm is to work with a passionate disposition. This effectively means finding reasons to get excited about your work.
When we feel excited and enthused about what we’re doing, we naturally feel more motivated and less overwhelmed.
Now, of course, having big, exciting, and passionate goals is very important and goes a long way toward growing our motivation. However, at times we can become a little too focused on the big picture, and we, therefore, neglect the small daily ritualistic tasks that can help us to attain our objective.
One way to overcome this trap is to focus on the present moment. Be mindful of what’s happening right now, and focus on the task at hand. Focus on all the steps required to get the task accomplished at a proficient level.
However, be wary not to succumb to boredom. When we focus on the process, it’s easy to get lost in repetitive acts that bore the brain.
To avoid this trap, be sure to make the task fun and exciting. In fact, why not turn it into a game?
When you thoroughly enjoy the tasks you’re working on, time flies by, and you become incredibly productive and efficient. With this in mind, take time to brainstorm ideas on how to spice up your tasks to make them more exciting, fun, and enjoyable.
This can, however, be difficult to do with the most laborious tasks on your agenda. This is where many people struggle. They enjoy the easy tasks, but then when it comes time to tackle the hardest tasks, that is when they fall into the procrastination trap.
In an ideal world, you will want to tackle the hardest and most important task first. Just get it over and done with and you will subsequently free up the rest of your day to focus on other things.
Every time you put off a difficult task it eats away at your energy levels. Subsequently, the longer you allow these tasks to dwell in your mind, the less productive you will become as the day moves on. As a result, you are, therefore, more likely to fall prey to procrastination.
If all else fails, then apply the 11-minute rule of productivity.
If you’re one of those people who just can’t seem to find the motivation needed to get a task off the ground, then this 11-minute rule is for you.
Getting started is almost always painful. Especially when it comes to those difficult tasks that we rather postpone for another day. However, once you begin, you very quickly get into the flow of the activity. You get into a rhythm, and your motivation starts to soar.
Given this, commit yourself to working in 11-minute chunks of time. Simply, set the timer for 11-minutes and absorb yourself into your task entirely without distraction.
When your timer sounds, just, turn it off and walk away from the task. Take a short break of 9-minutes, then return to the task for another 11-minute cycle.
As you work your way through the 11-minute rule, you may find that your motivation levels suddenly begin to soar. This will, subsequently, entice you to stick with your task for longer than the allocated 11-minutes.
Finally, it’s important to note that during the 9-minute break, your unconscious mind actually goes to work searching for solutions and answers to the task you’re working on. And this is the primary reason why your motivation levels will begin to soar. They will rise as you gain deeper insights into the task at hand. With deeper insights come answers that will help propel the task forward.
How to Stay Motivated When Life Gets Tough
We’re now at a stage where we’ve put in a considerable amount of work into building our motivation. However, try as we may, our motivations are never truly set in stone. They’re, in fact, extremely fragile and prone to change.
As people, events, and circumstances change around us, so do our motivations. And that’s okay. We’re human after all. And as human beings, our emotions often tend to direct our thoughts and behavior. As a result, we are likely to succumb to cycles of upswings and downswings in our motivation levels.
Some people are, however, more prone to these upswings and downswings than others. For instance, when things are going well, most people will feel extremely positive and motivated. However, the moment things take a turn for the worse, their motivations quickly plummet.
It’s, of course, difficult to avoid these cycles altogether. However, we can certainly minimize them — or at the very least smooth them out. But to make that a reality we need to learn how to become a self-motivator.
When you grow into a self-motivator, you are better able to deal with the changing events, conditions, and circumstances of your life. You become more resourceful, and can, therefore, handle difficulties in far more optimal ways without losing a significant amount of motivation.
In this final section, let’s take a look at some of the key strategies, tools, skills, and qualities that you must cultivate to stay motivated when the chips are down.
To view more strategies, please have a read of 70 ideas for developing unstoppable motivation.
Develop an Anti-Procrastination Skillset
To keep your motivation levels high at all times, it’s helpful to take the time to develop several soft skills that will help you manage your daily tasks and activities in optimal ways. Specifically, I’m talking about the skill of time management, organization, and systemization.
These skills will not only boost your productivity and improve your efficiency, but they will also reduce boredom, subdue overwhelm, and help you overcome bouts of low self-esteem.
For starters, learning how to better manage your time will provide you with the platform you need to take control of your tasks and activities.
When you feel in control of your time, your motivation levels naturally soar and create the momentum you need to effectively deal with the challenges that life throws your way.
Learning how to manage your time will also counter the effects of stress, worry, anxiety, overwhelm, and frustration. All of which leads to various forms of procrastination.
Two additions skills that directly stem from time management are organization and systemization.
When you learn how to better organize, arrange, simplify, and systemize your tasks, activities, resources, tools, and workflow, you naturally feel more in control of your schedule. This, subsequently, helps improve productivity and boost your motivation.
The key is to design your work or study environment in such a way that naturally supports your goals and desired workflow.
The Qualities of an Anti-Procrastinator
What are the qualities of an anti-procrastinator? What qualities do they specifically cultivate that typically helps them to ward off procrastination throughout the day?
There, are, of course, numerous qualities we could consider here. However, for the purpose of our discussion, let’s explore five essential qualities or attributes that will help you avoid getting caught up in the procrastination trap. These qualities include:
- Enthusiasm: It’s tough to procrastinate when you’re filled with enthusiasm. Enthusiasm helps you focus on possibilities over problems. Moreover, it helps keep you focused while undertaking repetitive or difficult tasks.
- Self-Discipline: When you’re discipline you’re naturally more committed to the task at hand. This gives more significance to what you’re doing, and you, therefore, find it easier to find the motivation you need to work on tasks for longer.
- Determination: When you’re determined to complete a task this unleashes in you a “never quit” mentality that pushes you forward through each task and toward your goal.
- Responsibility: When you take responsibility you take ownership of the task. Here, there are no more excuses, and nobody left to blame. You, subsequently, work with more purpose, passion, and intention.
- Optimism: Optimism is the key to lifelong motivation. It will help you move mountains and part oceans. It lies at the bedrock of everything that we have outlined in this article. Without optimism, motivation could not exist.
Each one of these qualities is tied to one common thread. And that thread is, WHY? In other words, find your WHY reasons. Explore why you want to get a specific task done.
The moment you find your reasons is the moment you naturally start living each one of these five qualities. Ask yourself:
What are my WHY reasons for undertaking this task? Why is it important? What will it allow me to do?
How can I take more responsibility, discipline myself, and work with more enthusiasm, determination, and optimism?
You will have absolutely no troubles finding your motivation when you make these qualities part of your life.
Schedule Days Off at Regular Intervals
Finally, to keep your motivation at its peak, it can be helpful to schedule regular days off throughout the year. In other words, allow yourself to procrastinate on purpose every now and then.
This will give you an opportunity to mentally and physically separate yourself from your regular tasks and routines. Kind of like a reboot of your body and brain.
These breaks can be used for relaxation, for planning, for goal setting or simply for some needed self-reflection. Their purpose is to keep your batteries charged, and your body refreshed for the psychological challenges that are likely to tempt you with procrastination.
Procrastination is a psychological trap that unexpectedly subdues our actions and behaviors and prevents us from moving forward in productive ways.
Procrastination is in other ways very much like an exotic drug that gently, yet purposefully draws us into its web of temporary relief and pleasure. It minimizes uncomfortable feelings and pushing us further down the rabbit hole.
Yes, procrastination is indeed a dangerous and alluring habit that shatters long-term dreams, hopes, and ambitions. It eats away at the heart of our passions one small chunk at a time.
Yet, ultimately, procrastination is nothing more but an illusion of the mind — wholly dependent on how we perceive ourselves, others, and the events and circumstances pertaining to our lives.
Breaking free of these illusions requires both awareness and an understanding of its makeup. Having gone through this article, you now have both firmly entrenched in your mind. The one remaining element that’s still missing is your implementation plan.
You must now do what you know without any excuses. Turn your knowledge into proactive action and put an end to procrastination for good.
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
Did you gain value from this article? Is it important that you know and understand this topic? Would you like to optimize how you think about this topic? Would you like a method for applying these ideas to your life?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I’m confident you will gain tremendous value from using the accompanying IQ Matrix for coaching or self-coaching purposes. This mind map provides you with a quick visual overview of the article you just read. The branches, interlinking ideas, and images model how the brain thinks and processes information. It’s kind of like implanting a thought into your brain – an upgrade of sorts that optimizes how you think about these concepts and ideas. 🙂
Recommended IQ Matrix Bundles
If you’re intrigued by the idea of using mind maps for self-improvement then I would like to invite you to become an IQ Matrix Member.
If you’re new to mind mapping or just want to check things out, then register for the Free 12 Month Membership Program. There you will gain access to over 90 mind maps, visual tools, and resources valued at over $500.
If, on the other hand, you want access to an ever-growing library of 100s of visual tools and resources, then check out our Premium Membership Packages. These packages provide you with the ultimate visual reference library for all your personal development needs.
Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- Beat Procrastination by Getting Rid of Your Have To’s @ Litemind
- Get off Your Butt – 16 Ways to Get Motivated when You’re in a Slump @ Zen Habits
- 4 Reasons Why We Procrastinate @ Positivity Blog
- 7 Can’t-Miss Ways to Beat the Procrastination Habit @ Life Optimizer
- 20 Procrastination Hacks @ Scott H Young
- Motivational Tips to Hack Your Day @ Lifehack
- 14 Ways to Procrastinate Productively @ Pick the Brain
- How to Get Moving & Stop Procrastinating @ Dumb Little Man
- Overcome Procrastination Using Self Talk @ WikiHow
- 11 Ways to Cure Someday Syndrome @ ZenHabits