Why You Can’t Stop Procrastinating

Photo by Nubelson Fernandes on Unsplash

At some point we’ve all struggled with procrastination, at least I know I do.

We often attribute this to laziness or believing there is not enough time in the day, but what if I told you there’s a simple way to overcome this roadblock?

Why Do We Procrastinate?

Before we can build a personal system for defeating procrastination we need to understand why we procrastinate in the first place. I’ve always associated my own procrastination problem with a lack of discipline, and I’ll stand behind this by revealing a secret about myself: I’m lazy.

While I genuinely enjoy my work and I’ve set many goals I hope to one day reach at the very core of my being I want nothing more than to play video games all day. Since I’m self-employed it’s easy for me to put off important tasks, but after analyzing the psychology behind procrastination I’ve realized this isn’t the root of the problem.

I constantly reference Atomic Habits by James Clear, and for good reason. Clear is arguably the most important figure in the productivity space in the last twenty years and his book reveals so many truths about our behaviors.

The truth is procrastination is actually a habit, and accomplishing anything actually requires building new habits. Clear defines a habit as a behavior that has been repeated enough to become automatic. When taking that definition into account I came to the conclusion that my procrastination had nothing to do with laziness, it actually stems from the habits I’ve formed.

My ideal routine is as follows: I wake up early, read whichever book I’ve chosen for the week while drinking my coffee, go to the gym for an hour, then immediately open my laptop to get to work.

That doesn’t sound complicated at all, but instead the automatic habit is to lay in bed scrolling through social media, then say “I’ll work out tomorrow”, and finally clicking my Youtube bookmark as soon as I open my laptop instead of the apps required to get my work done.

Does this sound like you? If so, congratulations you’ve identified the habits preventing you from getting your work done.

Photo by THE 5TH on Unsplash

Changing My Routine:

Now that we’ve identified the source of procrastination let’s talk about the lessons I’ve learned regarding how to defeat my own. This requires building new habits, and in order to do that changes had to be made to my environment.

The first change I made may surprise you, but adjusting my sleep schedule was the first step in changing my habit.

I used to try and wake up between 5:30 and 6:00 AM because I believed that was the only way to create enough hours in the day to get anything done, but after examining the effectiveness of my sleep schedule I realized I was creating resistance.

While venturing down the rabbit hole of productivity creators on Youtube I stumbled across the sleep type test. All of us have an ideal time period for maximizing our sleep, and mine happens to be anywhere between the hours of 11:00 PM and 8 AM.

I changed my sleep schedule from my old routine to falling between these hours, and I immediately noticed significant improvements in my productivity.

I’ve linked this test below, give it a try and if you’re able to make these adjustments I guarantee you’ll find yourself feeling more energetic and more efficient throughout the day.

The second change I made was shifting my environment to remove resistance when it was time to get to work while increasing the resistance for being distracted.

To consistently get out of bed on time I stopped using my phone as my alarm and replaced it with a physical alarm clock.

Let me tell you, that thing is annoying and I’ll do anything to make it stop so getting out of bed is a sacrifice I’m willing to make. I’ve also placed my books on my coffee table and kept my laptop in my backpack so it’s not the first thing I reached for as soon as I sat down.

Increasing the effort required to get to Youtube and decreasing the effort needed to open up a book has made reading a consistent part of my morning and night routine.

The change I made for getting to the gym was simpler than building a habit of reading. I started setting my workout clothes next to my bed instead of my comfy pajamas, this removed the first part of that resistance from my routine and suddenly I found myself walking out the door as soon as I finished my reading.

Sometimes the smallest changes have the largest impact.

Photo by Rob Laughter on Unsplash

Setting the Stage for Success:

Setting the stage for productivity is arguably the most important aspect of any working process.

In my case, I still had to face my toughest opponent yet: opening my working apps instead of Youtube. I’ll admit it, Youtube is my favorite way to pass time and it’s the source of the majority of my inspiration as a creator.

As someone with the goal of one day being a full-time creative I find this to be an incredibly helpful tool; however, if I spend all my time looking for inspiration and fail to dedicate any time to actually creating it’s all for not.

The change I made was setting Notion to be the landing page for Google Chrome. Notion is where I organize almost every aspect of my life, and my brain has been trained to know that when this app is open it’s time to get to work.

If we return to the idea of removing resistance, a few clicks removed the need to pull myself away from Youtube to get to the center of my working environment.

A bonus tip for setting the stage for getting to work. No matter the list of tools you need to get your work done you can most definitely find a way to remove almost all resistance from the hardest part, getting started.

Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash

My Results:

Building new habits wasn’t an overnight process for me. Developing a new habit takes active effort on our part until the behavior becomes automatic.

In my case, I had to actively tell myself when it was time to work and resist the urge to turn to my usual distractions repeatedly throughout the day. It wasn’t easy, but over time my system turned from an active process to a routine that requires almost no effort on my part.

Try applying a few of these strategies to your own life and after thirty days, come back to let me know your own results.

Other Articles I Recommend:

How To Be Successful At Anything: t.ly/ekxR

Why You Can’t Get Anything Done: t.ly/zh4-

How Waking Up Early Changed My Life: t.ly/Ki9B

Thank you for reading!

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