How To End Procrastination Permanently

Procrastination is the worst. You achieve absolutely nothing and you just end up hating yourself. Some of us are so good at procrastination, that we do absolutely nothing productive and still end up convincing ourselves that we accomplished something of value. The sad truth is that if you would like to have a successful blog or start up, you are going to have to stop procrastinating and start working as much as possible.

What Is Procrastination and Why Does It Happen?

Before we dive into beating procrastination, lets first talk about why it happens. Procrastination at its core is a war. It is a war between two separate parts of your brain that want two separate things. This is why fighting procrastination generally involves an inner monologue where you are arguing with yourself about why you should really be working.

The fight is between your Limbic System and the Prefrontal Cortex. Your Limbic System is that part of your brain that wants you to keep watching TV for a few more minutes or go get a cake to eat instead of working. Your Prefrontal Cortex on the other hand is the one that is thinking about your future self and is telling you that you should probably get to work and you have a lot to do.

Sadly, for most of us the Limbic System generally keeps winning this fight. This is because our Limbic System is powerful. Where your Prefrontal cortex is quite new in evolutionary terms and tends to get tired fast, your Limbic System is one of the oldest portions of your brain and houses your unconscious drives and emotions. It also happens to be directly connected to your pleasure center. To make matters worse it is automatic, this means it is the default part of your brain that controls you the second you stop being consciously engaged in a task. And what happens the second it takes over? You procrastinate.

But all hope is not lost. Simply understanding this helps you get a step closer to winning the fight. Here are a few more things that can give you the upper hand.

Just Start

Say for example you are really avoiding writing a post. One of the best ways to beat procrastination is to tell yourself you are simply going to write a few sentences and see where it goes from there. One of the main reasons that we avoid doing something is because we keep imagining it to be such a huge task. This can be daunting. Breaking it down to just the first few sentences sidesteps this problem. Once you start, you will generally be in the mood to continue working. You just have to make sure that you don’t get distracted or stop, but we will get to that later.

Record your motivations

Motivations come from the oddest of things and they are different for everyone, but they all have one thing in common: they are the greatest tool for fighting against procrastination. So keep track of them. Remember why you are doing this in the first place. What is your reason for this task and why should you not watch the next season of Breaking Bad instead?

Whenever you run into inspiration or motivation try and make it tangible:

  • Record it if possible
  • Take a picture
  • Write it down (write the complete thought down, not just bits and pieces)

Sure, what motivates us might change over time, but the sad truth is that most of the times we just forget why we are motivated, more specifically, we forget the feeling of motivation. But having these reasons in tangible form can help us keep things in perspective. When you are feeling the need to do anything other than the work, take a look at what motivates you.

Watch ZeFrank and Be Inspired

Keep Distractions Far Away

Your limbic system becomes stronger the easier it is for you to access things that you enjoy. This is why it is so hard to work on your computer because the internet and its infinite entertainment is only a click away. If possible, don’t just keep your distractions far away but make it a difficult task to get to them. Taking away the possibility of a distraction, gives your limbic system less ammo.

Keep It Going

One of my friends once told me that the hardest thing about going jogging everyday in the morning was putting his shoes on. Once he put his shoes on the rest of it just kind of became a process and he really didn’t have to worry about stopping. The same applies to blogging or anything else. The only difference is that there are a lot of distractions when you are next to your computer, but the momentum is still there.

It is easier to start and not stop than to start in the first place. So you do everything you can to not stop once you started. Here are a few of the best ways to do so:

  • Use a stop watch and time how long it takes you to complete each step in whatever it is you are doing. Understand that it takes time for your brain to stop doing something and start again. So even if you pause the stopwatch and start again, you are still going to be adding that extra time it takes for you to get back in your groove.
  • Remember that getting yourself to work again will waste a lot of time.
  • Take a look at your motivations.
  • Break down your work into mini-goals.

Bonus: Get Some Sleep

Get between 6.5 to 7.5 hours of sleep. The 8 hours per night is a myth. This article at Lifehacker does a great job of explaining why. If you do not get enough sleep, you are going to have a very hard time fighting your limbic system. Getting enough sleep will not only allow you to procrastinate less but it will also let you work more efficiently.

How do you keep from procrastinating?

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5 Responses to “How To End Procrastination Permanently”

  • Daniel says:

    Hey Mark,

    Loved the ZeFrank video and the explanation on why procrastination happens in the first place.

    These days blogs are cropping up all over the place. Most people starting blogs think that they can write anything on their blog, which is not true at all. but your blog solely stands out for your writing style. It is actually quite engrossing. Keep at it : )

    • Mark Trueman says:

      Hey Daniel,

      Glad you liked the Article and yes Ze Frank is pretty awesome!

      I agree. Most people don’t take the content of their blog seriously enough. You need to always aim to create stellar content and shouldn’t settle for something mediocre.

  • Stefano Gorgoni says:

    always a nice topic : ) and about your question, “How do you keep from procrastinating?”, i’ll answer… but not today : D

  • Denis D. says:

    I really enjoyed the video by ZeFrank. I tend to fight procrastination by just forcing myself to start doing work. All I think about is that I need to do a certain amount of work and then I will reward myself by either watching a tv, browsing the Internet for entertainment or doing something else pelasurable. I find that work/reward strategy works well for me.

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