Have you been procrastinating lately? To a point when your works start piling up, yet you still spend time doing everything but working on your project? Does this happen more often than you would like to? No worries, we have all been there. In fact, funny enough, we have been procrastinating instead of writing this article for shamefully too long… Of course, in this day and age, it has become extremely easy to get trapped in the loop of procrastination. The never-ending pool of information quickly sucks us in, and suddenly we find ourselves watching the fifth season of a random TV show instead of starting our dream project. So, to make it easier for all of us, it is time to ask those two crucial questions. Why do we procrastinate, and how can we stop it?
Question no. 1: Why do we procrastinate?
We might be lacking something…
Whether it be discipline, motivation, focus, clear goals, or even skills, the feeling of lacking can definitely stop you from being productive. You slowly begin doubting the importance of the task and then suddenly start looking for excuses not to do it all. Procrastination always seems easier than asking yourself important and not always convenient questions like: Why is this task an essential step in achieving my goals? What are my main goals in life? Do I like what I am doing?
“I make excuses for not starting or continuing a project that may be familiar to others: I’m tired! There isn’t enough time. What I know I need to do, feels too difficult,” – Rich Thomsen.
It might be the pressure…
Having no clear plan on how to get the task done can be very stressful and lead you to feel overwhelmed. You might be seeing your project as one big task, and this becomes a huge problem. Having no idea where to start can lead you to run back and forth from task to task, and this indecisiveness can make you feel like, all of a sudden, your dream is unachievable. This is when you lose motivation and rather spend your time procrastinating instead of figuring out how to make the idea work.
“Usually, when I’m procrastinating, it’s because I’m uncertain about the next step, and so I switch to something else that I know how to do,” – Stephen Hicks, Orcasound.
Or should we blame perfectionism and fear of failure?
When you start doubting yourself, it becomes hard to find the motivation and courage to start working on the bigger tasks. Some people can even start fearing the success that might come with achieving their goals and find themselves in a constant loop of wanting to bring these big ideas to life yet afraid to make the first step towards their dreams. As soon as you start making a big deal out of your goal, perfectionism comes in a way, and no task will be done unless you can make it perfect. Yet… there is nothing perfect in this world. This is where procrastination greets you and shifts your focus on easier and more entertaining things.
“I’m in a constant position of procrastination when it comes to creativity or things involving emotions. People say I do a lot, but I put things off a lot from my view since I know what I’m capable of. I think because I don’t let the music be my life; I struggle with being that hustler musician. I have a wife, and I enjoy being outdoors and thinking. I also watch TV and play my Nintendo Switch, so other things help the procrastination and also the fear of it not being good enough. There’s nothing worse than spending 4 hrs writing music, and all of it seems sucky to you. I’m not a famous musician, so I sometimes wonder – do I need to finish this so bots can send me ads about helping me promote my music? You can probably see I’m a glass half empty type guy,” – Josh Spoon.
Question no. 2: How can we stop it?
First, make sure to follow your workflow and learn to notice your procrastination. Before you start moving to more fun activities, ask yourself questions like: What have I done today to move my project to a further stage? Are there any easy tasks I could do right now before watching this Youtube video? Etc. You can even write down the reasons why you started procrastinating in the first place. It could help you create a clear vision of what you need to improve. As soon as you have answers, put your phone away, turn off the TV, and all work-unrelated tabs on your browser. If you still find it difficult to focus, try changing your surroundings – try working at a library, cafe, or park. Wherever you feel less distracted and tempted to shift your focus from the task.
“I think being aware that I’ve actually lost focus is the first thing. Then it’s a matter of breaking something down to a step that you know how to do,” – Stephen Hicks, Orcasound.
It is important to set a clear end goal so you know what you are trying to achieve. Maybe you want to make an album? Or learn how to play a new instrument? Whatever it may be, make sure it motivates you to learn and progress in your career and life. Make a list of things that inspire and motivate you, and try to shape your goals around it. Whenever you start working on your task, remind yourself of that goal. You can even try shifting your procrastination activities towards the same goal. Let’s say you do not feel like finishing the song for your album. Research ideas for your album cover instead! Or look for artists you would like to collaborate with on your songs.
“When I recognize that I’m procrastinating, I typically start with what I call ‘productive procrastination’. First off, I recognize what I am avoiding, whether it is working on that ‘big project’ or any small activity that orients me towards the future I want to create. If I’m not ready to ‘do the work’ right now, I may focus on non-creative tasks that enable me or my environment to be successful. Some examples include: taking a class in the desired skill, improving my workspace, or connecting with another creative person. Talking to someone who is excited about a project they are working on usually gets me excited to work on mine too. That said, these activities are like orienting my compass. They keep me facing in the right direction,” – Rich Thomsen.
Break big initiatives into smaller tasks
Once you have your end goal and main task, break it into smaller, more achievable tasks. Make sure they are simple, do not require a lot of time, and you can easily tell when they are finished. Try creating to-do lists and often refer to them. Whenever you finish a task, reward yourself. It could be something you really like or simply 15 minutes of procrastination between your work. Try setting up a timer for each task and follow it strictly. It might be hard at first, but it will become natural with time.
“Breaking the procrastination loop requires taking an actual step in that right direction. For me, selecting what that step will be using common goal-setting methods. I identify the big goal, break it into smaller, achievable activities, prioritize the task list, and work on it. When I take the time to make a list(s), the thing that gets me going is looking for a ‘2 for 1’ where I can satisfy a couple of outcomes with one activity. For example, I need to make a new video for an exhibit proposal. I have also been wanting to make an updated website. If I make that new video, it will not only serve the proposal but provide me a piece of content for the new website – time to get working!” – Rich Thomsen.
Form new habits
Try changing the previous work habits that led you to procrastination with those that motivate you to work towards your goals. Make it fun, easy, and simple. Make it a part of your routine! Always keep looking for new inspiration sources, try out what works best for you, and make sure to stick to that. It is important you stay true to yourself and understand that procrastination is, in some way, fooling no one other but yourself. By forming new healthy working habits, you will feel less anxious, stressed, or lost and more inspired, motivated, and productive.
“I first try to always think of things in terms of music so I can be receptive to inspiration. If I’m watching TV, shopping, or hanging out with friends, when I hear something I like, I’ll try to file it in my head or make a note with Audioshare, which is an amazing iOS app. The other thing I try to do is write lyrics ideas that come to me. Lyrics of even other musicians are very personal to me, so sharing my own lyrics has been a huge source of procrastination for me, but I have years of writing 1-8 line lyrics ideas. My last few releases have been songs that started as short Instagram video ideas that I just ruminate on, and then one day, I remember I had a few ideas, and the inspiration led to finished work. Recordings are great at reminding you of your talent and purpose,” – Josh Spoon.
Give yourself a break and procrastinate a bit!
Yes, you heard us right. Procrastination is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it is very needed to clear your mind and regain focus. However, it is important you stick to your plan, do not forget your routine, and manage your time. So, as long as you can pull yourself out of the procrastination loop, it will not do any harm if you move away from your project and read this new article on gardening your friend praised a few days ago.
“Actually, sometimes the procrastinating activity can really clear my head and focus me really clearly into what it is I actually need to do. I think there’s a reason we need to do it sometimes, perhaps to give us time away from what we are meant to be doing,” – David Birchall, Noise Orchestra.
Have any tips and tricks on overcoming procrastination? Please share them with Blokas community and us in the comments section below, and we will make sure to try them out!