Why do we sometimes procrastinate? You know, those times that we avoid getting things done.

Why is it that at times we just cant ignore our distractions? The short-term excitement becomes more powerful than our long-term goals.

In fact, why don’t we just go ahead and answer this question right now by seeing if there are any new episodes on Netflix…

Oh, wait a minute, I didn’t mean to say that out loud.

Ignore that last bit.

Must.. stay… focused. Quick, we need a heading with some bold font…

The Three Reasons That You Procrastinate

Avoiding your work comes down to one (or all) of these three things:

  1. You don’t know WHAT to do. That is, you aren’t clear on your next task, you don’t have a To Do list, you haven’t mapped out your priorities.
  2. You don’t know HOW to do it. Some tasks are tough and you aren’t sure the best way to approach it, perhaps you’ve never done it before, perhaps you’ve done it previously but it hasn’t been very successful.
  3. You don’t WANT to do it. There’s nothing worst than sitting down to start work on something you hate, or something you “should” be doing but don’t want to.

The first step is to defeating procrastination is to identify the truth of why you are avoiding a task.

Be honest with yourself.

Are you worried that you wont do a good job?

Do you feel that the task is pointless?

Do you not even know where to start?

As an unnamed and potentially fictional famous person might have once said: “When you are honest about why you procrastinate, you can identify the right tool to be productive again.”

Procrastination Is Situational

It is critical that when you procrastinate you don’t view yourself as “lazy”.

The truth is that we procrastinate if we don’t have the right tools and techniques to succeed. When temptation of distraction approaches, the procrastinator doesn’t have the ammunition to stomp the distraction and keep being productive.

So let’s take a look at one specific technique for staying productive. You know what, we probably need to make that a heading actually…

One Specific Technique For Staying Productive

Try to remember the last time you got distracted procrastinated. Yeah, I know, that might be years ago for you, but try to remember anyway.

What exactly did you do? What was your behaviour?

For example, this is my most recent procrastination pattern:

  1. Sit down at my computer
  2. Check my Trello task list
  3. Open up my browser
  4. Notice that the YouTube tab on my browser
  5. Click the YouTube tab so that I can listen to some music while I work
  6. See a video on the home page that looked funny (It was a new Ozzy Man Review video – he’s quite funny)
  7. Watch the Ozzy Man video
  8. See another video that looks good… click to watch “one more”
  9. Eight videos later, get mad with myself for wasting so much time, stand up and go for a walk to get away from the distractions and try to clear my head, ready for work.

So what is your pattern? Is it similar to this? Perhaps yours involves Reddit or TV or Facebook or Netflix or something else.

Analysing Your Procrastination Pattern

Knowing your pattern gives you insight into how to defeat it.

You can see in my example that I shouldn’t be opening my browser when I’m starting to work and if I do need to then I shouldn’t be leaving “tempting” tabs open. I also shouldn’t be listening to music through YouTube which has other distractions baked right into the front page.

There are a whole swag of tools to help you block distractions like these, and a whole swag of techniques to help you resist their calling. I don’t have time to write about them all here, but if you’re interested you can learn about these in our “Finish It!” motivation and productivity course on Udemy.

The other important thing I can learn from my procrastination pattern is how to get in the zone. When I found myself being hijacked, I had to get up and be active in a place where I could think clearly and collect my thoughts.

This is a great clue for what I should do before I sit down – go for a walk outside, think about what I’m about to work on, and then dive into that task immediately after I complete my walk.

The bottom line is that you can use your patterns and your habits for good or for evil, its up to you.

And remember, you aren’t a lazy person if you procrastinate, just someone who finds themselves in an unproductive situation.


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