You’ve probably heard this crazy tidbit thrown your way before: Some of the world’s most-driven people are also some of the biggest procrastinators this planet has ever seen. And it makes no sense since these are exactly the kind of people who know that doing that never ends well.
Why is that? And better yet, if you find yourself in a similar situation, how can you stop?
One person had this same question and took it to Quora. And luckily for us, their users didn’t put off giving out their advice.
1. Outsource Whenever Possible
Perhaps there are certain aspects you are highly motivated to do and procrastinate on other aspects. Outsource the unmotivated pieces and build the vision each morning towards the one main goal.
OK, you may not be able to fully outsource every piece of your life to other people. But when you find yourself putting off a large project, think about who you can delegate smaller elements to. Ask yourself if there’s someone on your team who’d be excited or interested in it. Or, if no one comes to mind, think about who’s really good at the task and would be able to complete it far more easily than you.
2. Find Your “Why?”
It's not that you don't want to do the things that you say you want to do. You do. But you don't have a big enough reason to do them. You haven’t made your “why” big enough.
Have you ever sat down and asked yourself why a particular task was so important to complete by a certain deadline? If not, you’d be surprised at how it much it can motivate you to start working on something—or help you realize that a task is actually not worth your time right now.
3. Admit How You’re Procrastinating
It might seem childish or weak not being able to manage [phone or computer] distractions, but these apps and services are developed by very smart people to make us wanting to keep coming back over and over again. There's nothing weak or wrong with admitting those urges are just impossible to resist and taking drastic measures to cut out those distractions, if necessary even unplugging your internet all together when you want to get great work done.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a queen of productive procrastination: I’ll sit on LinkedIn and connect with people instead of finishing pressing tasks all day, every day. But by pinpointing how you procrastinate, you’re halfway to getting yourself back on track. Now, the next step is the hard one—cutting out that distraction. Goodbye Wi-Fi.
4. Understand Need Versus Want
Drive doesn't come from willpower. It comes from need.
Last year, I put “build a better personal website” on my to-do list. However, as the weeks (and then months) went on, that task never got crossed off—until I found out I was winning a big award and people would actually be Googling me. Suddenly, I sprang into action and got that site fixed up in two hours.
What took me so long? While a personal website was something I thought would be nice to have, it wasn’t a necessity. Once it became a necessity, I had no problem barreling through it.
When it comes to why you’re procrastinating something, ask yourself: Is it something you need to complete right now? If so, that should light the fire under you. And if not (and you still want to get it done), think about how you can angle it to yourself to feel more urgent?
5. Look for Small Improvement
Focus on getting better rather than being good.
There’s a reason why people give up on weight loss regimens after a couple of days: Realizing that losing 10 pounds will take weeks or months instead of hours or days can be discouraging, and it gets harder and harder to have perfect “clean” days.
The same goes for anything else you’re procrastinating: Instead of focusing on getting everything done at once (and having it be done perfectly), focus on getting little bits completed and making them solid at first. There’s a reason why people write rough drafts first, instead of a single, perfect final draft.
What are your tricks for defeating procrastination? Let me know on Twitter!
Lily is a writer, editor, and social media manager, as well as co-founder of The Prospect, the world’s largest student-run college access organization. In addition to her writing with The Muse, she also serves as an editor at HelloFlo and Her Campus. Recently, she was named one of Glamour’s Top 10 College Women for her work helping underserved youth get into college. You can follow Lily on Twitter.More from this Author