How to Overcome Procrastination

If you’re reading this, it is because you want something else in life. You want more wealth or more fitness or a better social life. You want things that you do not have. You might be sitting in a cube right now and thinking “there must be more to life than this, right?”

What prevents you from achieving the goals you have set for yourself is discipline. You do not do enough of the things that yield results. I know I have often thought that if there was one thing in my life that I could have, it would be that: more discipline. If I could change myself to be less… I’ll describe it as “human” and more “robotic”… then I would be able to set a good goal and work towards it. When I set that goal, I could then start working on achieving that goal, having discipline. Also, having discipline, I would work on it until it is achieved. That isn’t what it is like to be human.

Being human means that we have to deal with the emotions of “I don’t want to” or “I want to do something else.”

How do you overcome the conflict between what you want to do and what you should do. It isn’t easy, but it is straightforward. On the other hand, sometimes it is complicated, but it isn’t hard. Keep reading, and you will understand.

The answer is to keep reinventing the way that you approach your procrastination or your lack of discipline or your need for variety or your need for the lack of variety. You keep throwing yourself at the problem, because, then, you learn more about how you work and about what it is that you can do to address your problem.

So, what you do is that you have to find out how to manage your own emotions. You have to find out what makes you choose between the short-term and the long-term. I don’t mean some kind of book learning or theoretical learning. I mean what is the underlying deep cause of why you like to do the emotional things. Here are some examples to jog your mind.

Do you choose to do things that are routine?

Do you choose to do things at random?

Is there an emotion that you most often pursue?

In my own case, I found that I had a difficult time sitting down to blog. I have a lot of ideas. I wanted to do it. I enjoy it a lot when I’m doing it. I love writing. However, the sitting down part is difficult. Nothing special here, right? That’s just every normal human.

So, what I did was that I started to look at the things that I do in life. I cleaned my house, I went for a walk, I paid bills, I would work on my books, I would play video games, I would exercise, I would call my mother, I would pray, and so on.

I also found that when I got into an activity, such as writing, or dancing, or playing video games, that I would tend to stay in that activity. I also found that I became less productive at whatever I was doing the longer that I did it. So, sit me down in front of a television with a show I want to watch, and I’ll watch the show in entirety. That’s not productive. However, sit me down in front of the computer and let me start writing, and I will write. That is productive. The question is, how do I get more of the productive activities, and how do I prevent the unproductive activities from taking too much time and reducing my motivation for other things?

What I did to address this was to get a computer timer. It is actually called “Free Timer” but I have no association with the software, nor am I recommending it. I would set the timer for 10 minutes and pick a song that I found relaxing that would play at the end of the timer.

All of the sudden, I was able to take my need for methodical behavior and add randomness to it. I would clean my house for approximately 10 minutes and then I would go exercise for 10 minutes. Then I would go video game. Then I would pay bills. Then I would call my mother. Then I would go out for a short walk. Then I would write 10 minutes on my blog. Then I would watch 10 minutes of a show I wanted to watch. Then I would prepare food for my lunch at work tomorrow.

Not only was I not getting bored and not having trouble starting a task, but I was also learning to not procrastinate, because I was always starting a new task. How often do I use this? A lot. It is a “reset” for me. When I get off track, I “reset.”

So, this is a “gimmick” if you want to consider it, which means that it might not work for you if your mind works differently. However, you should consider giving it a try. It will teach you a lot about your own mind and how you motivate yourself and how you prioritize your own tasks. But, most of all, it will make it so that you create a pattern in your own mind where you can start tasks that you do not want to. When your mind finds that it is not painful to start a task, then it will apply that to other tasks, because you will already be active.

When I use this technique, I always aim to do what I want to do, but I choose something that is easy. So, if I want to work on a difficult section of one of my books, I aim to use this technique, and then I, for the first 10 minutes, go do something easier such as go clean my house. Then I play video games for 10 minutes. Then I read my book, because I’m already moving and having no trouble starting and doing something for 10 minutes.

What happens? When I’ve gotten into an activity that I am enjoying, I find that I don’t want to stop. That actually creates a second emotion in the mind. That emotion is the desire to continue. I find that after I have gone 10 minutes writing a blog entry, and have to stop in the middle (this also helps with never having writer’s block) that I am very interested to come back to it. So, I am creating in my own mind an intense desire to do something that I was having trouble doing.

In short, you do not have to “not like” the things that you “don’t like.” You actually can start to “like” the things that you “don’t like” if you keep trying to find a way to act on them.

My own belief is that desire, or the lack thereof, is artificial. If you can change the emotion that you experience in your mind, or prevent your mind from engaging in the conflict of “do I want to or do I not want to?” then you can start to add in those activities that you are having a harder time doing.

Reclaiming Your Time and Creating Success

In this age of social media, it is easy to think that you need to be plugged in and aware of what is going on around you all of the time. Many people feel the need to check their social media feeds constantly, for fear that they may be missing out on something. You can pull up Facebook and see creative solutions for life problems. You can see new products and new services that people are offering. You can read online news and keep up on current events. You can always be listening to music. Is it good to do all of this?

I will admit that I have experienced the draw of being plugged in all the time. I work in information technology. I have a smartphone and I use it for my career, for my personal life and for my own business. However, I know that being plugged in all of the time is not a good thing. I force myself to turn the electronic devices off completely for at least 2 hours each day. There had been times before this that I would find myself staying up late and being tired for work, or of finding that I had no energy because I was spending so much time with technology.

What I would recommend is to set aside time everyday to unplug. If you find that you never exercise, or have trouble keeping your house clean, or do not get to bed at a reasonable hour, or are not spending time with friends and family or that you are not accomplishing anything in life, then you should find a time to let your mind relax. Your mind should not always be engaged. If your mind is always engaged, you are preventing your mind from discovering solutions to the challenges that you face. If you have never tried this, take a long walk outside and just look around. Don’t go for any specific reason. What will happen? Your mind will start to have idle time with which it can start to think. It will start to wander into the areas that matter most to you or that are limiting you. It will start to evaluate or create options for you to have success in your life.

It is a very unwise thing to spend all of your time time with technology, listening to music, watching television, reading social media updates, devouring the news or anything else that requires you to be constantly engaged. Those things benefit you very little, and they get in the way of the good things that your mind could assist you with if only you took the time to allow your mind to idle. Once your mind idles, it creates solutions. Once your mind has solutions, you will gain excitement and energy to pursue them.

Practical Advice is Hard to Find

It is very hard to find good information. It is not hard to find people who mean well and want to help. It is not hard to find people who have been successful. It is not hard to find opinions. What is hard to find is good information that is useful and can answer the question of “How do I…?”

Some information is person specific. If you find yourself wanting to start a business and ask a business owner how they got started—hoping to glean some useful information that might point you in the right direction—you might hear a story that you know was unique to the business owner’s life circumstances. If you discover only that the business owner inherited their business or that their employer wanted to retire and asked them to buy it, you cannot really plan to replicate what they did. This kind of information is not bad, but it is not useful.

Other information is too general. Look up “how to start a business” online and you will find advice such as “get an idea, make a business plan and talk to a bank.” That, also, is not the kind of targeted information that you need.

I am willing to speculate that the kind of answer to “how do I start a business” is more along the lines of “how do I generate an idea for a business product or service when I don’t have any ideas?” than it is “how do I incorporate?” Yes, incorporation should be considered, but the real question of “how do I start a business?” is concerned with the major actions that enable discovery of a marketable product or service, the production of that product or service and the profitability and control of that product or service.

To give two more examples of focused questions, it probably also is something like “how do I look at my own life to determine what kind of idea I can turn into a real product or service that I, with my own skills, abilities, finances and connections, can make profitable?” Another real world question would be “how do I find the resources and information that I need to be successful in my business?” These are the kinds of real world questions that you would want to focus on, because to answer these would be to discover the real answers to “how do I start a business?”

The reason for this blog, and for the books, videos and other content that I have produced, is that I have searched intensely for information throughout my life. I have found many answers, but I have also spent a lot of time searching. What I hope to share are the answers and the how-to of searching for the information you need, so that you will not have to search as much, and for as long, as I have.

The questions are always different, but the method is always similar. When I ask “How do I…?” what I really want to know is

  1. How broad is the topic and how do I focus on what I need to know? (i.e. in dance, how much do I really need to learn?)
  2. What are the major areas that concern this pursuit? (i.e. in real estate, how to screen tenants, how to price units, how to determine what to do to a property and what not to so that it is profitable)
  3. Where do I find the resources, people and information necessary to help me answer the question? (i.e. instructors, agents, advisors, contractors, associations, books, etc.)
  4. What changes do I need to make in my life to enable me to pursue something?

Using these four previous questions as a rough guide, here are some of the questions that I have answered for myself:

“How do I build a good life for myself?”
“How do I learn to invest in real estate?”
“How do I make new friends?”
“How do I get a job in my field?”
“How do I climb the corporate ladder?”
“How do I learn to dance?”
“How do I overcome social anxiety?”
“How do I eat to lose weight and control my weight?”
“How do I find good information for my health?”
“How do I overcome weaknesses in my life?”
“What kind of business could I get into?”
“How should I think in order to find the best answers to problems?”
“How can I find answers to problems when I need them?”

There have been so many times throughout my life that I have gone in search of good information and found my resources lacking. I did not have someone who could give me good advice and I could not find the information readily available. I hate to say that I reinvented the wheel, but sometimes, when you cannot find what you are looking for, you need to reinvent the wheel. So, whether you ultimately come to this site for how to select high quality tenants, how to build wealth or how to dance anywhere, I hope that you will see not only information that is focused enough to answer your question of “How do I…?” but also delivered in a way that respects your time. Respect for the amount of time it takes to learn something is very important to me, and I try not to duplicate content or to add filler.