Oct 30, 2020

How to beat procrastination?


Apart from laziness and lack of consistency, the third challenge that most of us face when it comes to achieving our health goals is Procrastination.

Imagine this situation - you woke up at 7 AM, made yourself a nice, hot cup of coffee. Your mind tells you that you need to head for a brisk walk. But you are too occupied with scrolling through the social media feed that you tell yourself - "I'll step out around 9 AM". 9 AM comes and you are in the kitchen making breakfast. The brisk walk reminder triggers in your head and you tell yourself - "There's so much work to do now. I can't step out for a walk. Maybe, I'll go in the evening". 

It is 4 PM. You do want to finish that brisk walk but one of these three situations pan out.

  • It is lightly drizzling. And your family demands some hot bajjis for an evening snack. 
  • It has been a tiring day and you just want to lie down and scroll through the Instagram feed
  • It is still too hot and you don't want to get the migraine that triggers whenever you walk under the hot sun

Similar such excuses crop up and the brisk walk plan is put on the back burner. The misalignment between your thought and your action (or lack of) gives that uncomfortable, nagging feeling but you put it aside by distracting yourself with a Netflix series.

Sounds familiar?

Procrastination comes in various shapes and forms.

I'll start exercising from 1st Jan 2021

I'll start eating healthy from the beginning of next month

I'll cut down on processed foods completely starting next week

I'll control my social media usage from tomorrow morning

When we put aside every little habit for a future time and date, procrastination kicks in. Yes, tomorrow is also the future and it is uncertain. 

Today is all we have.

Reflect on those activities/habits/tasks that you tend to procrastinate. Do you see a pattern emerging?

As I reflected on my behaviors, what I have realized is that I tend to procrastinate on tasks where I want the results but I don't enjoy the process.

For example, I have been meaning to shoot a few videos but I have been procrastinating it for weeks with various excuses. The main reason for procrastination is that I don't enjoy editing videos and I find it to be too cumbersome.

As I reflected more, I started to understand the reasons behind procrastination.

Procrastination occurs 

  • when we want the results but the process isn't enjoyable
  • when the result is not tangible or measurable
  • when the result takes months/years to materialize
  • when the steps towards achieving a goal are ambiguous 

We also tend to procrastinate when we put others' needs before ours. This is especially true with women and our health. Some of us even feel guilty when we take time out for our exercise/well-being. 

Now that we have a fair idea of procrastination, how can we beat it to achieve our goals?

(1) Shift the mindset from "I have to do this particular task" to "I want to do this particular task"

(2) Be extremely clear with yourself on WHY you want to do a particular task. Journal about it, write it down in your own words, read through the journal entries now and then. When the WHY is clear to you, you'd automatically figure out ways to get it done

(3) Do not obsess over the results. Let it happen at its own time and pace

(4) Break down an ambitious goal into smaller milestones that are easy to measure. For eg, if waking up early is your goal and you are clear about WHY you want to meet this goal, break it down into

  • For the next 5 days, I will wake up at 6:30 AM
  • Once I'm able to do this, I will start waking up at 6 AM

(5) For ambiguous goals, identify the very next action to take that is currently feasible to you. 

(6) Make a little progress every single day. Wrote about this in an old blog post

If we are procrastinating something, it is also worthwhile to check if we are precrastinating something else. Are we spending too much time on tasks that are neither urgent nor important? Read all about precrastination in this blog post.

Hope you found these pointers helpful. Do share your tips and tricks to beat procrastination.

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