It’s always hard to start doing something that doesn’t promise instant benefits. For the brain, it’s much more convenient to handle specific information than the abstract, so the upcoming deadline is much more likely to get done than something that has uncertain benefits and is in the distant future.
We rather set fake priorities to quickly deal with the easier stuff while postponing the most challenging work for “better times.” This usually means the important tasks get pushed back while we accomplish our superficial goals. For the brain, the short term benefits are more tangible. Psychologists call this state as the “time preference“.
To beat procrastination you will need to change your mindset and develop the willpower to do the important things first. Here are 6 Ways To Win the Fight Against Procrastination.
6 Ways To Win the Fight Against Procrastination
#1 Imagine and Visualize the Future Success
Researchers have found that people are more willing to set aside for old age if they are shown their future photos made via Photoshop. Why? Because the future seems more real, so the benefits of savings feel more tangible.
The same trick can be applied to almost any case. Draw a vivid picture of future success and happiness, and you’ll get the ball rolling. So, if you are postponing an unpleasant call, feel free to help your mind by visualizing the well-deserved satisfaction you will feel as soon you solve the issue.
#2 Take the Responsibilities Publicly
By publicly declaring your intention to do something, you will significantly strengthen the desire to get to work because the internal reward system is very sensitive to social status. Studies have shown that it is very important to maintain the respect of even strangers. Most of us do not wish to appear stupid in the eyes of others.
Tell your boss that by the end of the day, the essay will be on the table. This will be enough to start working.
#3 Imagine the Possible Negative Consequences of Procrastination
Studies have shown that almost all people have problems with assessing the status quo. We long weigh the “pros” and “cons” of a solution, but hardly eyeing the pros and cons of inactivity. This misleading hides the obvious benefits that we could get if finally do something.
By visualizing the adverse effects of procrastination, you are more likely to press the gas pedal.
#4 Start with the Simplest First Step
Sometimes we ask ourselves too much. For example, you have a task of learning French in your list. Well, it’s obviously can’t be done within a day or even a month. The trick is to break up the large complicated amorphous task into a number of small steps, which are not so difficult. Identify the smallest first step so that even the inner “time management” won’t prevent your mind to see that the benefits are greater than the efforts.
Instead of “learning French,” start with “learning the French alphabet.” Complete this small task, and you will get additional motivation and feel much more confident in future.
#5 Reward Yourself for the First Step
The cost of the first step will seem to us even less if we connect it with something desirable. In other words, try to somehow interconnect pleasant and unpleasant tasks. For example, promise yourself a tasty drink or a coffee once you cope with the issue.
#6 Eliminate Hidden Obstacles
At times, a person returns to the same task over and over again, but can’t manage to do the first step. If a voice in your head keeps saying “It would be nice, but …” then it’s time to ask this voice counter-questions like “Why do you find it difficult?” It is likely that you will quickly find internal obstacles. Sometimes it turns out that at first, you have to complete another, less serious matter.
For example, you if can’t force yourself to adhere to strict rules and prepare for the working day in the morning, after asking yourself the question, you may find that the reason is that you just want to have breakfast with the family. Once this contradiction becomes clear to you, there’s a greater chance you’ll find a way to overcome it.
So, the next time the mysterious inability to deal with urgent matters will attack you, be kinder to yourself. Our brains do need help. I hope the little trick above will push you to start doing essentials.