You have something you should do, but you’re pacing back and forth, or dong something entirely
unrelated, or spending too long on a game that you don’t even enjoy.
Sounds like procrastination to me.
Do YOU make excuses when you should be doing something important?
Here are some common ‘reasons’ not to work as well as tips on how to fight them.
But I’m a procrastinator/lazy person…
Oh. Look at that. The perfect excuse for someone who procrastinates too much. How convenient.
Well, surprise! Everyone procrastinates. Even those who seem like they’ve got everything sorted and are super
Those people are like that because they are very effective at kicking themselves out of procrastinating. But newsflash – you can CHANGE! And it’s a lot easier if you enjoy what you’re doing or have a clear reason for doing it as well as
consistent reminders. Stick encouraging post-it notes around your room. Set a timer on your phone.
Hey. These don’t work unless you listen. So when you set a reminder, follow what it says! But I keep getting distracted/notifications/I need to check my phone… Ah ah ah. Stop yourself right there.
Key word. DISTRACTIONS.
When doing your activity, turn OFF your phone. Or put it on ‘Do Not Disturb’. The only reason you
should use it is because you actually need it for your activity e.g. you’re watching an instructional
video. Otherwise, your phone will only distract you and before you know it, another half and hour’s been
blown on watching cute dog videos. On some phones, you can even hide certain apps from your main screen. Or try getting a screen time app – there are even some that help the environment by growing a little tree! Get growing!
But I’m tired/hungry…
A lot of the time, excuses like these can be a reflection of our general lifestyle. If you don’t have the energy to do something, perhaps you need to do something different. Our body has a natural clock and if we don’t follow it, we can pay the price! Try getting to sleep before 11pm and up by 8am. Eat at sensible times and make sure you’re having healthy, fulfilling meals, rather than snacking on very sugary foods in the middle of the night.
But I’m too busy/don’t have enough time…
Too busy? Hold up. How much time did you spend on social media yesterday? How many episodes did you watch from that TV series? How long were you playing that PS4 game or watching that YouTube video?
My outlook on life is you need chores and boring things to make you appreciate the good times more.
So limit your fun periods. Not only will you create more time for the exercise or activity you want/need to do, but you’ll also enjoy the fun periods a lot more as they will be a reward.
But it’s boring…
Then clearly it’s not fun enough! You can always try things from a new perspective.
For example, I was trying to write a book, but going around in circles with the plot and barely writing anything.
So, I decided to write a brand new short story every day of about 1,000 words (page and a half) where I’d have to lay out the plot clearly to write the story faster. So far I’ve found I’m happier writing more per day and on top of that, I have new plot ideas to explore for different stories!
Hate going to the gym, or for a run like everyone else seems to? Try yoga. Or dance. Or Zumba. There are thousands of free online videos with classes on YouTube and other sites like Grokker. Find an exercise that is fun for you. Experiment (and be safe)!
But it takes ages/is a huge task…
It might be taking ages because you’re not planning, and you’re spending a lot of time thinking in circles. On top of this, recent studies show that our concentration levels dip dramatically after 20 minutes, so if you’re sat for two hours doing one activity, it’s likely you’re spending some of that time gazing into space.
So split the task into chunks, then look at your week and see where you have gaps. Then have a little action plan for each session. In each session, start small. Say you’ll work for ten minutes and give it your all, then take a break for ten. And repeat.
But it’s raining…
Good. It shows the world is still working. Common excuses like ‘it’s raining’ shows a negative mindset. You’re focusing on what’s wrong and sometimes what can’t be changed.
You can really try to yell at the sky to stop raining, but it’s probably not going to work. Sorry. Instead, focus on the positives – what you can change. You can watch free videos if you can’t afford memberships for exercise or guitar. You can run with a coat on. And as an old Welsh saying goes, ‘starting is two thirds of the work’. It’s a lot easier once you get going.
Look on the bright side. There’s always a silver lining. Maybe that was one too many weather-related phrases, but you catch my drift.
I should stop.
But I’m not getting any better…
It’s frustrating when we can’t see that we’re making progress. Of course it is. So what you can do to make it more visible is have a diary where you can write down what you’ve done for that activity. In a few months’ time, you can look back and see that you did do the work.
In my experience, this works especially well when revising for exams. It’s a whole lot more reassuring when you can clearly see on the night before your exam that you did revise History every other day for all those weeks.
Try it for next year!
But it’s too hard…
What if I took you to a climbing centre, gave you some ropes and a harness and said, “Alright, go to the top of the wall” when you’d never been climbing before?
Sounds completely impossible, right?!
It’s not impossible. And of course you can try the harder stuff. But it’s going to be very difficult if you don’t start with the basics. Give yourself a chance! Just like climbing a wall, you need to work your way up from the bottom, so start there. You can always challenge yourself later.
If you’re new to jogging, do a mix of running and walking for a smaller distance to suit you, then build up. If you’re trying baking, just go with a simple cupcake recipe first, not a croquembouche. (Fun fact: a croquembouche is a French wedding cake that is basically just a stack of profiteroles or mini eclairs covered in sugar and caramel. Yum! But hard to stick together. It’s not like stacking tins.)
General rule of thumb
Put it like this – if you treat the activity like a job or compulsory homework, you’ll do it to a much better standard and work harder. You can’t be late. You can’t be tired and fall asleep in class. You don’t get to skive off and watch Netflix or scroll through your phone. You don’t get to go and have snacks.
Otherwise, you get fired and fail.
You have to sit there and pay attention. So do it! It might be boring, or annoying, or time-consuming, but once it’s done, you can focus on the fun stuff.
If you can tackle your procrastination, you can tackle ANYTHING!
So, let me be your reminder…
Go and do it now!