Procrastination: Man’s Greatest Enemy
After writing that title, I think it’s a bit too exaggerated. Man’s greatest enemy? Isn’t it global warming or perhaps even pollution? Well, that was my thought process to until suddenly, I remembered a proverb I had glanced upon and dismissed years ago.
“A man’s greatest enemy is no other than himself.”
This was quoted by Marcus Tullius Cicero, who was a Roman philosopher and statesman in 109 BC Italy. I have no idea if procrastination was even invented back then but you gotta admit that the quote hits deep, at least for me. When your own procrastination hinders our own capacity to do work that actually helps us progress our lives, you might agree with me when I say that procrastination can be one of your worst demons.
Sometimes, we can be our greatest ally and sometimes, we can be our greatest foe. For example, whenever we got some work to do, for example, mowing the lawn, there is some voice in your head which tells you to do the right thing, to complete the work that instant, but there is also another voice which outshouts the good voice. The voice coaxing you to stay in your cozy home and play some video games. Often times, as I have observed, the latter voice is too convincing in its arguments and it brings you over to its side of thinking. So instead of doing my homework, I find myself writing this article(gave you a real life example, you better follow for this quality writing).
Science has its own answer to the tricky question of procrastination. A tiny almond shaped brain structure on the side of the brain called the amygdala controls our will to do stuff, aka motivation. Pretty cool, right? It’s found out that this particular part of the brain is enlarged in procrastinators, making it harder for them to actually do stuff and it is also linked to significant increase in trying to put stuff off and having anxiety. Like the villain and hero scenario often depicted by superhero movies, we too have our own hero, which is our cerebellum, the part of the human brain on top which is linked with thinking and emotions. Given that we can control most of our body using the cerebellum, it is safe to assume it reigns over the brain and how it works to an extent. So that means you can probably convince your amygdala to shut up. Cool.
Now that you’ve understood the science behind it all, time to explain to you how to actually beat it(don’t lie, you came here to read this part specifically). There are tons of ways to overcome the annoyance that is procrastination and you can have your own methods too, however they should actually be effective. Here are a bunch of my own methods.
1) GET UP
I know it’s very easy to lay on your bed reading this article but you gotta understand that a lot of procrastination comes from the idea of the comfort zone. You don’t wanna get up because it’s way more comfy then hitting 50 pushups in a row or being productive, and that’s completely normal. From having to live in constant fear of being wiped out as a species in caveman times, we crave comfort and will readily attach themselves to anything that remotely resembles the comfort zone. I’m to blame too, by writing this article right now, I am indulging in my own comfort zone, which is to sit in front of my computer and mashing away at my keyboard. So when you decide that you’re not gonna do the work, there’s a key element that can help you get out of that feeling. Getting up. Honestly, it sounds so simple but do we even implement it in our lives? Just this simple act can boost your mind and get you to do your work and get productive. If you want the extra riddance, get out of the house and take a long and nice walk around town, you will find that your mind feels refreshed, alert and ready to tackle any challenge given to it.
2) IMPROVE YOUR SELF IMAGE
Self image. How many people actually know the meaning of this word? They say they do, but in reality, they do not know much about the power of changing your self image. Think about this, you walk into a raging part with the self image and belief that you are a awkward computer nerd. Then, imagine yourself walking in there with the confidence of someone who is highly successful and loves to party. Now, who do you think is more likely to rule the party? Of course, your mind goes to the version of you who is much more confident but by admitting this, you’re realizing the power of self image. A man cannot rise above where he sees himself in life. This was so true for me too when I started fixing my self image. Now that I have achieved a lot in a comparatively small time, I feel like an achiever and I carry that image of myself at all times. I am much more confident and more less the nerd I was in the past year. Changing your self image not only banishes procrastination but improves all other aspects of your life. So, next time you’re going to finish some work you had been putting off, think of yourself as a productive work-hungry monster who’s out there to show the world who’s boss. You got this, champ.
3) TWO MINUTE RULE
This technique might sound familiar to you. If you do know it, you will recognize it from the popular book, Atomic Habits by James Clear. To be clear (lol), I haven’t read that book yet, but when I do, you can count on me to publish a book review on that soon. Anyway, this book is so everywhere, my brother’s reading it, my dad’s read it, my barber’s read it, so I’m sure that speaks volumes about the book’s contents. This particular book is one of the stepping stones to your self improvement journey and is very much touted so. I highly recommend that you take time out of your day and read this amazing book(I guess it is, judging from all the great reviews) because many people have said it has benefited them greatly.
Enough about preaching how good it is and getting back to the point. The magical two minute rule, what is it and how does it work? Let me explain. Quick question for you, whenever you think about lifting some weights in the gym, what specific moment do you think about? The time where you are all sweaty and uncomfortable, or in the present moment where you have to get ready to go to the gym? Often times, it is observed that the first option is more common among the people, and that’s a bad thing, because whenever you do any activity, you keep on thinking on the negatives and about how out of your depth you would feel, which would in turn harm your motivation to do said activity. You would rather stay at home binging Netflix rather than getting out there and lifting some weights, and that’s understandable. A quick way to hijack this problem is to think of the first two minutes. Going for a run? Don’t think about the 10K you have to run today but rather think of the present moment where you have to put on your running clothes, tie your shoes and get out of the house. I speak from experience when I say that this rule has certainly boosted my productivity, because it changed the way about how I viewed my day to day chores and hard stuff. Once you’ve tested this out on a few stuff, sure do try it out and tell me how it went.
Do you remember how we used to have timetables in school? If you do, you must remember how productive those were, it almost felt natural working hard for days on end without giving it a second thought. We humans are hardwired to like predictable outcomes because life is very unpredictable. We cling to it and perform our best when this is fulfilled.
Building a daily routine is one of the best things you can do for productivity. However, this takes time and it can often be frustrating to get into the flow but trust me, it is worth it. Take your time to get into the hang of things and I promise you, you’ll be grateful that you did. The routine must also be flexible enough to account for the highs and lows that life offers every once in a while. Make it so that you only outline the structure of the thing you’re going to do in that particular time frame, leaving the rest to you to do on the spot. That being said, go on, make a time table for yourself, stretching from the time you wake up to the time you hit the sack.
Almost forgot, there is another thing I wanted to say, it’s a rule, yay. It is called the 80/20 rule, and it states that to have the “perfect” routine, you must take 80 percent of your day and pour it into deep work. You are not to be distracted, or take a break unless absolutely necessary. Just hours of pure, relentless focus and concentration. The 20 percent is to be spent on your own enjoyment, your guilty pleasures like scrolling on social media and chatting with your friends over the phone. For example, my average wake time was 16 hours the last month. 80 percent of this would be 12 hours and 20 percent would be 4 hours, which is more than enough enjoyment for me. This system works wonders (at least for me), try it my dudes.
5) KEEP THE DAMN PHONE AWAY
Ah, phones. The embodiment of the paradox of productivity. They not only have the capacity to skyrocket our productivity, but can graze it down to the ground with non-stop distractions. In this section, I’m gonna teach you how to tame this wild beast and use it to your own benefit.
First on the list and most well known, put your phone on do not disturb and just throw it in some room. You’re better off without it for the time being, plus you can catch up on everything after your work is done. Trust me, that is so much better.
Second, turn on grayscale on your phone. Now, I gotta explain a bit of science to make you understand this part. Imagine living life through a black and white filter. Feels horrible right? Nothing matches the stunning beauty of nature’s colors in all its glory. Now imagine you had the option not to use that filter. You would pick to take it off eagerly (probably), and we’re going to use this example to reduce your screen time. We all love colors and are fascinated by it. The more colorful a thing is, the more time we spend admiring it, it is also partially the cause for art being admired the way it is. So, toggle grayscale on your phone and everything that used to look colorful and nice which would make you want to spend more time on the phone and you’ll automatically see that you’re bored faster of the phone and not interested anymore, making you focus on your work better. Awesome trick, yeah?
Third, add a widget to your phone home screen that reads out your screen time so that it is unavoidable. When you have the mindset to not spend so much time on devices, it will automatically set off a signal in your brain to put the phone down and start doing that homework.
Fourth, write a daily habit tracker which encompasses all of the essential habits that you want in your life, then stick it on a wall in front of your desk, or workplace, the place doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you have to be aware of how much progress you’ve done so that you get more motivation to get all those check boxes ticked for the day. It is alright if you aren’t able to complete all of them in one day, but don’t let that become a common occurrence. After doing this trick, you’ll find that you are following the habits you want daily and more frequently.
Mindset is also very important when approaching this certain area. The mindset I would like you to have is to be grateful for any type of progress, be it however small. “Aim for the moon and land among the stars.” fits very well into this mindset. That’s it, I am going to end this part off with the line, plan for perfection, be grateful for progress.
6) MEDITATE + DOPAMINE DETOX
Imagine a Buddhist monk. What do you see in your mind? If you see a bald man on top of a mountain, chanting om with closed eyes, then my friend, your idea of meditation is so out of place. Meditation is a simple and very effective way to make leaps in the quality of your mental state. Just three minutes a day will help you refresh your mind. The first time I tried meditation, it felt like I just woke up from a very long and relaxing slumber. My senses were so awake and my mind was processing new ideas by the microsecond. If I was to compare it to anything, I would say that it is close to taking your brain out, rinsing it thoroughly and putting it back in. I recommend that you meditate before starting your day or doing any important work. If you’re clueless about where to begin from, don’t worry, pal, I got you covered. There is a handy app on the Google Play Store and Apple Store called Medito, which is entirely run by volunteers. I highly recommend it as the courses are very easy to follow and you can develop this habit for life. I also have meditation on my daily habit tracker and I suggest you do that too, because it simply changes your entire perspective towards life.
(didn’t include how to meditate, follow me cuz I’m doing an article on that later)
7) PRACTICE TAKING ACTION
Did you do your laundry yet? What about your assignment that is pending tomorrow? Or the dishes from last night? No? Well, you’re just a lazy scumbag then. Being lazy is so comfortable, so much so that it is one of the easiest bad habits to develop. Eat, watch Netflix, sleep, repeat. So simple, right? While this might be easy, it is handicapping your future self to be productive and do something with their life. That’s why you gotta break the chains of the big bad lazy. Practice doing that thing you’ve been putting off for the weekend. After doing it, do another. Then another. Soon enough you will have finished all the work you had pending, plus you will be so glad you did. Compare your feelings when you watched an hour of the hottest new Netflix series versus when you finished that 1,000 word essay you had the next day. The one which is better is obvious. Just like making a habit to go for a walk outside everyday, you can practice doing any simple chore instead of putting it off. Soon, it will feel natural and you won’t feel like procrastinating anymore. Now get out there, do ya thing.
Everything we do is directly linked to our motivation levels we have for that particular activity. The higher it is, the more enthusiastically and energetically we work. So it is imperative that you find that inner fire inside you that wants to consume all the tasks in front of you and grow bigger. You can encourage that fire to grow inside by finding a good reason to do whatever it is you want to do, because whatever we do, it ultimately brings us closer to your true purpose. Doing some deep journalling can really help unearthing why you’re doing what you do. It is basically putting on your favorite playlist and writing down whatever comes to your mind related to that specific topic you want to journal about. The reason why this section is short is because I haven’t really explored this part of myself much, and am pretty much clueless in this department. However, I’ve got the education but I’ve yet to use it in real life so that it actually works for me. Last but not the least, go get them, tiger.
Congratulations, you have made it to the end of my article, which was probably rushed and full of bad grammar (I apologize, I am only a novice in writing articles)! I hope you enjoyed reading it and are going to apply it in real life, as that is the main reason I am typing this right now. Only reading this and not using it is such a dumb move, don’t do it. The time you’ve spent reading this would’ve gone to waste and we wouldn’t want that, do we? This article turned out a bit long because I poured everything I knew about how to avoid procrastination. It is also worth mentioning that I am too a beginner and I’ve only started to apply these principles in my life, so please don’t be discouraged if you are not seeing any progress or feel stuck, because I did that same and it only worsened my overall development. Stay tuned because I might edit this to fix some stuff or add some more points (I am a forgetful person) and that being said, folks, I AM OUT!