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How To Stop Procrastination And Start Achieving Your Goals

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Believe me, I get it. You know you have to do something important, but it looks like this HUGE mountain that is impossible to reach. You know you want to stop procrastination, but you feel so much resistance even thinking about this project, that you just want to escape from reality doing brainless things that make you feel less stressed.

  • Maybe you don’t feel motivated, because you don’t see the point of doing this project
  • Maybe you have difficulties to just start with getting work done.
  • Maybe this is such an important project that you feel an enormous amount of pressure that makes you experience overwhelm, self-doubt, and anxiety of failure.
  • Maybe you feel like you just can’t control your procrastination behavior and it slips in unconsciously. Before you realize it, you are distracted by your phone and doing something else.
  • Maybe you feel like you work inefficiently. You take so many breaks that at the end of the day, you feel like you have been very busy, without actually accomplishing a lot
  • Maybe you procrastinate actively by keeping yourself busy and inventing all these other things that you have to do, so you magically ‘don’t have time’ for that project that stresses you out
  • Maybe you’re a perfectionist and this makes you procrastinate a lot because you don’t see the point of starting this task before knowing that you can do it perfectly

If you recognize yourself in one or maybe more of the above, don’t worry. You have totally the power to change this and to start to control your procrastination instead of your procrastination controlling you.

When you think about it, procrastination doesn’t make sense at all, right? You know you have to get something done, but you prefer to escape and choose to concentrate on everything else except the thing you should be doing. You postpone it until the very last moment, feeling extremely stressed, guilty and horrible and in the end, you have to do it anyway.

In the end, you’re torturing yourself so much more by procrastinating. The negative emotions that you feel when doing something hard become even bigger and are prolonged for often weeks.

So why do we procrastinate?

When we find ourselves in dangerous situations, our mind will turn it’s ‘survival mode’ on. This enables us to make fast (and often very courageous) decisions purely out of adrenaline to make us survive.

However, when you’re about to do something hard that makes you feel nervous and stressed, your heart rate and breath accelerates and your mind sometimes misassumes this as you being in danger and put its ‘survival mode’ on. This ‘survival mode’ doesn’t serve us at all, when it comes to working on challenging projects or tight deadlines. Since our minds want to protect ourselves and avoid pain at all times, it goes against our natural reaction to spontaneously choose to work do things that stress us out. So your mind will tell you to avoid this stress and pain and do something else that makes you feel great and relaxed. So, you procrastinate.

That’s why procrastination is often so strong and difficult to overcome. In order to stop procrastination, our discipline and will power have to be greater than our tendency to follow our natural instincts.

With these 5 steps, you can trick your mind and stop procrastination TODAY.

1. Change your perspective

View your mind as this overprotective mother that only wants you to be happy and comfortable at all times. Unfortunately, listening to your overprotective mother won’t get you anywhere in life. Without challenging yourself and doing hard stuff sometimes, you will miss important opportunities and won’t grow as a person.

DON’T LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER. She simply doesn’t know what is best for you. She wants you to stay with her little daughter forever. Rebel against her and do the stuff that she tells you not to do anyway. Eventually, she will understand that you are an adult now and that she has to stop trying to control you and stop you from embracing your true potential.

So the next time you feel this urge to procrastinate, actually try to imagine speaking to this voice in your head as you would talk to your overprotective mother.

You: ‘Ok, I should really work on this project right now ‘

Mind: ‘You don’t look fine… Are you hungry or thirsty? You seem so tired… You can always work on this later, but first, we have to make sure that you have slept and eaten well before doing something that hard.

You: ‘Mum stop, really, I’m fine, I know you are worried, but I really need to do this.’

Mind: ‘are you sure? I mean, I thought we were going to watch that TV show together tonight…’

You: ‘not tonight, mum. Maybe another day, I promise.

2. Put your mind on ‘competitivity mode’

Aside from being protective, your mind is also very competitive and LOVES winning, especially when you are competing with friends or colleagues. So change your mind from ‘survival mode’ to ‘competitive mode’.

If you have to write a dissertation or do a similar project as one of your friends or colleagues then actually make it a competition. Appoint someone that will be the ‘objective’ judge that has to decide whether you or your friend has done the best job. Ideally, there also should be a reward for the one that has won.

This ‘gamification’ is a great way to trick your brain into doing difficult things because all it can think about is winning the competition and the pride of receiving that award.

In case, you don’t have a similar project than a friend or colleague, you can still reach out to a friend and tell him that you want to bet. In case you finish your project before a certain deadline, he will need to buy you some beers or a bottle of wine. In case you don’t reach the deadline on time, then you have to buy this for your friend.

3. Stop procrastination by making the experience more enjoyable

Another way to stop procrastination is to create a super cozy setting that makes getting work done way more enjoyable. Dim your lights, put on some zen music, make yourself a latte, light some candles, and take a soft blanket. Working in this kind of setting will make you much calmer and less stressed and might turn your ‘survival mode’ off… Aaannndd it might make you even want to get work done!

Alternatively, you can also go to a coworking space and get work done there. Their interior design is often on point (!) and it might really motivate you to surround yourself with other productive people.

What I also found that really helps me to stop procrastination, is to really know yourself and give some tasks that you always tend to postpone, your own kind of touch. By doing this, you will trick your brain into doing something you actually don’t like.

I’ll give you an example. I know I’m obsessed with planning & organizing and being creative. So, for a while, I was always postponing to take my vitamins. I really don’t like swallowing pills and always have had this huge resistance when I have to take them. However, especially being vegan, I HAVE TO TAKE MY VITAMINS. It’s actually dangerous not taking them.

So, I bought myself a colorful pillbox with the days of the week where I could organize all my vitamins and made a ‘vitamin intake’ habit tracker in my bullet journal and ladies, I have never skipped a day without taking them since.

So ask yourself: How can I give my own spin to a certain task so I can trick my brain and actually even start enjoying it?

  • Maybe you are a person that likes to write and enjoy tasks way more when you can work on them in a cute notebook with colored pens and markers.
  • Maybe you’re more of a digital person and likes to use tools like Trello or Todoist to organize your projects and make a project plan and timeline.
  • Maybe you’re more a visual person and like to make a mood board where you make a collage of pictures and quotes that represents exactly what you want the results to look like.

Whatever it is that makes you excited to work on this project, do it!

4. Know when you’re mind is in its most productive state

Are you a real morning person? Or a night owl? On which moments of the day do you feel at your absolute laziest?

In order to stop procrastination, plan your day taking your natural productivity flow in mind.

  • Most productive in the morning? Then plan the tasks in the morning that require the most focus and brain capacity.
  • Feeling sleepy after lunch? Then plan the tasks that you can do on automatic pilot without thinking.
  • Feeling a little more productive in the evening? Then plan the tasks that you do need alert attention for, but not ‘deep focus’.

This is so important, you guys! If you plan the most difficult and intense tasks in the morning when you are not a morning person at all, you just won’t find the energy to rebel against your overprotective mum and you will be more likely to end up procrastinating.

5. Stop procrastination by making it a habit

How amazing would it be that this difficult task that you always end up procrastinating on, becomes a habit that you do on automating pilot without even thinking?

They say that you need 30 consecutive days in order for an activity to become a habit. I hear you thinking ’30 days???? How the hell am I going to do this for 30 days if even 1 day is already too difficult for me???’ I totally understand. It looks impossible, right? But it actually isn’t.

Charles Duhigg explains in ‘The Power of Habit‘ that there actually exists a system that is scientifically proven to make whatever activity or behavior you want a habit that sticks.

You only need 3 elements to make something a habit: a clue, a routine and a reward.

Think about it. How do you teach a dog to do some tricks?

You say ‘Nicky, sit down!’ (clue). When Nicky sits down (routine), she receives a treat (reward).

You can teach yourself all the habits you want with those 3 elements. Your cravings for the reward will motivate you to do the routine. However, in order for this to work, you need to find a good and stable clue that reminds you to do the habit every time because removing the clue, breaks the habit. It is also equally important to finding a great reward for yourself that really makes you crave.

For example, you have put an alarm at 6:30 pm (clue) that tells you it’s time for your daily work-out, so you put on your gym clothes, do your work-out and take a shower (routine). As a reward, you can watch some episodes of this TV show you are totally obsessed with. However, when you decide not to work out, you don’t allow yourself to watch this TV show. After a while, you will crave to watch this TV show so much that you will automatically work-out in order to watch the next episode.

Feel free to apply this technique to whatever activity you would love to make a habit. Think about a stabile clue and a great reward that you would crave for.

In order to stop procrastination, consistency is key. It is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Of course, there might be days where you just can’t concentrate and that’s totally okay. Don’t be too harsh on yourself and just try again the next day.

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Let’s Chat!

What tips and brain tricks would you add to this list to overcome procrastination? Let me know in the comment 🙂

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  1. Nisha says:

    Very motivating and encouraging post on how to avoid procastination and achieve your goals. Got reminded of the German quote “Begin to weave and God will give you the thread.” . Thanks for sharing!

  2. Tammy Harris says:

    As always, I love reading your blog. This is such a great topic to write about. Very encouraging and get the feeling of hopefulness! Thanks for posting. Have a blessed day~

  3. Leslie says:

    I love the analogy of the mother telling us what to do to stay in our zone. I’ve been horrible this year, I lost my writing business so I’m relaunching in January but I’m terrified. I need to do all of these things though.

  4. Savita says:

    I really like what you said about making your work zone cozy. Having a pleasing work space is one of the biggest helps to my productivity!

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