Common procrastination advice online right now preaches that quick hacks can help you get things done and stop putting tasks off. But the truth is painful and surprising. If it was that easy, you’d have no problems with procrastination already.
The problem is that many procrastination problems aren’t solvable with quick fixes. Others sell the sizzle of a fast “trick” to fix the symptoms but not the root cause of your problem because that’s what reels people in. A quick fix is sexy. In the process, they screw you in the long term. Your real procrastination issues remain and eventually, your frustration returns.
We see this in other industries as well, from fitness to productivity. The “life hacks” aren’t so enduring. In this article, I will provide a way to address these issues to make your life more productive, pleasurable, and profitable.
You’re doing something you’re not passionate about. That’s usually the cause of procrastination. I can give you micro-tips to improve procrastination in the short-term when you’re forced to finish tasks you don’t enjoy, like in high school. But the problem is that you’ll always be fighting an uphill battle against your competitors who love what they do. The secret is to find what you love doing for a career and it’ll never feel like a chore.
Notice how no one complains about procrastinating about playing video games. That’s because they enjoy it so much that it’s not a chore.
I know your parents or society is telling you that you have to do what you dislike to make a good living, but the new world is changing that. It’s not easy to find your passion and make a great living from it but it is possible with perseverance and hard work. And in the long run, it’ll be more enjoyable and you’ll make more money.
I discovered the hard way that you can only will power your way through something you don’t enjoy for so long. If you’ve convinced yourself that you love what you do when you don’t, as I did, the truth will eventually come out. Learn more in this podcast:
Subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher to listen to on your phone while you’re on the go:
Honestly, if you have a problem that you’ve struggled for years to solve even though you’ve tried every solution, it’s likely a deeper internal, psychological issue that will take time and effort to address.
Outside of not enjoying what you do, there are other reasons people procrastinate. The “Why?” test will unearth these. Ask yourself why you’re procrastinating and then ask why to your answer. Keep going until you find the root cause. For example:
“Why am I procrastinating on writing this essay?”
“Because I am not disciplined.”
“Why am I not disciplined with writing this essay?”
“Because I eat poorly and sleep poorly.”
“Why do I eat poorly and sleep poorly?”
“Because I feel like I don’t deserve self-love since no one gave it to me growing up.”
It won’t always be always as cut-and-dry as this and if it’s deep enough, it may require a therapist for self-reflection and analysis. There’s a stigma that having a therapist is embarrassing but it shouldn’t be. It doesn’t mean you’re a crazy person; it shows that you are making an effort to fine-tune your brain with a coach. We have coaches for our body, so why not our brain as well?
Unfortunately, many people delay getting a therapist for too long for this reason, and they end up paying for it later in life when their performance, marriage, and other relationships fall apart. I hear about it time-to-time on podcasts I listen to.
Label excuses for what they are. When you use the “Why?” test, you’ll likely run into the following excuses:
- I’m lazy.
- I’m too busy.
- I don’t know.
- I’m unfocused.
- I’m not disciplined.
- I don’t have enough time.
- That’s not as important right now.
At first glance, they seem like legit reasons, but they’re not. They’re at least partially a cover for a deeper cause. Our brains can invent false reasons we believe to hide away from the fear, shame, or anxiety that can arise from confronting a problem. For me, this was anything social.
Going to a social get-together or approaching a girl I’d never met before invoked all these excuses I believed like, “I will wait until I finish this workout set and approach. This is important to finish first.” or “The drive is too long and I am tired.”
But the truth was that once I finished, the next set would start and I would delay further. The drive may have been thirty minutes long but it was nothing compared to the 2 to 5 hour drives others I know take all the time. Plus, I didn’t do anything the whole day except watch YouTube videos, so I couldn’t have actually lacked energy.
Are your reasons true or are they just more excuses? Do you really have no time? Likely, you make the time for anything you really find important and if you watched yourself, you probably will waste 2 to 3 hours in the next week watching some TV show you don’t have to.
Not all procrastination comes from strong root causes that take deep internal effort to fix. Some can be solved with the hacks out there. But when they can’t, use the psychology tips out there to tackle your problem (e.g. get a therapist, read the books, surround yourself with role models, be okay with the worst case scenario).
Explore every reasonable cause of your issue, psychological and biological. Some people truly have a physiological issue. Their energy levels are low because they eat fast food instead of vegetables, don’t exercise, and don’t get enough sleep. Or they may have a cancer that could be prevented. Changing the basic building blocks of performance can give you the energy necessary to success. Exercise is not an energy-draining chore but an investment; you get more energy from it than you put in.
What do you think is the root cause to your procrastination?
Hungry for more? Check out this research-based article on procrastination.