As a professional procrastinator, I can tell you that I’ve had my fair share of pushing off work to future me. Future me is an amazing fellow; he can somehow do the work I had originally planned for 3 days.
In fact, I’m so good at procrastinating that I often procrastinate on my procrastination. Those who pause their 20-minute YouTube video to watch a 3-minute YouTube video and then pause that 3-minute video to look at social media would know what I mean.
Shit, how do people like me even get work done in the first place?
We’re not asking to be Elon Musks or Bill Gates with 80 hour work weeks of intricately planned 5-minute time blocks. All we’re asking is to be more focused and productive when we have to do serious business.
If that’s your objective, you’ve come to the right place.
1. Know Your Purpose
Think about the time you played Pokemon or maybe the time you wanted to go to a faraway restaurant.
Well sure, doing those are fun by itself, but when you look at the tasks involved in catching a rare Pokemon or the logistics of going to the restaurant, those are actually mundane chore-like activities.
Finding the Pokemon might involve hours of button mashing and throwing Pokeballs while going to the restaurant might require planning and long hours of travelling.
But you did them anyway because you had a purpose that was important to you.
Having a purpose is also why doing homework at school tends to be faster – you have a purpose of “going home”.
So when you have something you know you need to do, give yourself a reason why. It could be purely for money, fighting for a promotion, or having a healthier body.
The more specific and more the goal satisfies you, the better. This is called intrinsic motivation, which is our innate desire to do something that satisfies ourselves and not others.
Because you’ll need that for the next point.
2. Envision Yourself Accomplishing The Goal
You have to first believe that the goal is attainable and desirable to you. What does it mean to be a Pokemon Master? What does it mean to be the very best? (That no one ever was~)
If it’s something vague, even for a Pokemon Master, then it’s hard to be motivated to do anything. But when you say that I want to be a Pokemon Master that captured all the Pokemon, suddenly that’s a lot clearer and a lot more workable.
It’d also help if you have a role model here because they will help you envision who or what you want to be.
If your goal is just to complete a cumbersome project, then envisioning that should be easy. In that case, don’t focus on the process. Focus on the result of the process and what it can accomplish for you.
Doing this process of seeing yourself completing the goal is also scientifically proven: procrastination is also a result of a difficulty in “valuing outcomes or associating outcomes with tasks”.
3. Plan And Do Things In Small Steps
The bigger the thing you are trying to accomplish, the more you need to plan. Just relax, sit down, and write down specific tasks, deadlines and timeframes.
To be a Pokemon Master that completed the Pokedex, you can’t just randomly go around and hoping to encounter every single Pokemon. It’s the same thing here. If you set a plan, say by capturing Pokemon in one area then the next, it’s a lot more manageable.
Just by taking things one small step at a time, you’ll get something, which is already better than nothing.
And eventually, you’ll accomplish everything you set out to do in your plan.
4. Procrastinate Anyway… With A Plan
Every human being need breaks. And procrastinating can actually make you more creative and productive if you control and do it periodically.
If you know you are allowed to procrastinate, your mind sees that as a break that lets you split the task at hand.
Having these procrastination breaks also gives your mind space to allow ideas in your head to mature. Procrastination often reaffirms to you why doing the task is important in the first place.
And it allows your mind to wander, which could make your idea flourish in ways you never imagined. It’s why sometimes doing things on the fly can produce excellent results.
Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa—all of which are famous human achievements—were said to be done because of procrastination.
5. Reward Yourself
After having done your stuff, of course. You deserve it after working so hard and controlling yourself to achieve your goals.
Go Netflix and chill. Eat that ice cream. Be a potato for the weekend.
As long as the reward isn’t counterproductive, like eating fried chicken after exercising for weight loss (oops?), then it’s all good.
And because you’ve made it all the way to the end, here’s a bonus tip: get some friends who have similar goals and tell them of your goals.
This way, you’re all accountable to each other and you form obligations to accomplish them.