Calling All Procrastinators - You Can Get Things Done
12 Feb 2020
Hi, my name is Sze and I am a procrastinator.
I am the one who finishes homework late on Sunday night. I am the one who crams an entire semester of material into a single night before the final exam.
Since I procrastinate, I often end up rushing to finish a job. When this happens, I end up finishing the job at a lower quality than it should be.
I used to believe I could only get things done if I was pushed. I used to be called “lazy.” I used to think I could not create high-quality work because I procrastinated.
I am now almost 50 years old and I know I can get things done. Lots of things.
If you feel lazy too and want to get things done. Listen up.
The key to getting things done as a procrastinator is to first understand what motivates you.
I believe most of us procrastinate not because we are hard-wired to be lazy, but because we are not motivated by punishment. Even though we all know that rewards work better than punishments, most of the world’s systems try to use punishment to create motivation. “You HAVE to turn in your homework,” “If you don’t study hard you will not be able to get a job,” “You will be fired if you cannot fix this issue,” etc, etc.
People who are motivated to avoid punishment tend to be more content in finishing the things others post upon them, even if such things bear no interest for them. These people tend to be good students growing up and good employees in the corporate world. I am not one of them. The more you ‘force’ me to do something, the less likely I am to finish it.
Knowing this, I try not to create negative feelings when I am trying to achieve a goal.
Speaking of goals, I have tried many different ways of goal setting throughout my life. I’ve created daily goals and quarterly goals... all of them have failed. I have tried to follow OKR (Objective, Key Results) which was made famous by Google. That also did not work.
Am I just not a goal person? No. Neither are you.
We just need to set out to accomplish them differently.
What I’ve found to work is combining long-term objectives with incremental, continuous, low-stake improvements.
My latest example is my recent goal to exercise more. For many years, I paid the gym membership and ended up only going a few times a year. I was never able to keep going.
Last year I decided to implement the small improvement system I mentioned above.
Instead of going to the gym, I started to exercise at home. I set out to just do some exercise each night. I told myself, “it doesn't matter how much, let’s just do some exercise.” I found some YouTube exercises for beginners that I could follow. I started with 30 minutes. Some days I felt tired and I would only exercise for 10 minutes. Some routines have been too hard, so I try to find the ones that I can manage. This may seem like I am just being easy on myself. What I’m really doing, though, is allowing myself to keep going.
At first, I needed to practice patience to see a small outcome. Once I started seeing results, the internal motivation drive came on and I started to push myself. More, and more, the process continued. It. Worked.
The Great News: You Can Do it Too
It’s like hacking your own brain. Inside your brain, there are 2 beings. The conscious mind is you. You want to get things done. However, there is a subconscious mind that always hinders progress. The way to hack your subconscious mind is to first make things easy, but continuous. You have to create a condition where this subconscious mind starts seeing results, once your subconscious mind sees results, it is going to turn around and start motivating you. Or, at least not get in your way of getting things done.
It’s been over a year now and I can report that I am still exercising at least 30 minutes every day.
Getting big things done will always involve something hard, or something that you don’t naturally enjoy doing. To get yourself to get through the hump, you hack your mind.
1. Set a long-term goal, or a vision. This is counter to setting measurable short-term goals. Those measurable short-term goals only work on good kids. We are not good kids. Long-term goals help you realign yourself as a procrastinating adult.
2. Create a habit-forming environment. Create conditions where you can see and experience small, incremental improvements. This includes removing excuses. For example, you don’t have to go to the gym to exercise. You don’t need a powerful computer to learn to code.
3. Find the tiniest success and celebrate it. That success can be as small as 1 push-up. Or getting “hello” to show up on a webpage. Don’t feel like you need big success. You are not showing off to anybody, the goal is to feed your subconscious mind with success.
4. Keep going and see your subconscious mind turn around and start motivating you.
This process works wonders for me. If you want to learn how to code, or how to start a business, let me know, maybe I can help. We can find a process that works for you, too!