4 Major Sources Of Procrastination And How To Beat It

No matter how you frame it, one of the biggest enemies in life is procrastination.

So loathed is this enemy, and how negatively we see it, has led us to use different words to describe it so that we can tell ourselves that we are not procrastinating.

  • Lazy
  • Recharging
  • Resting
  • Hibernation
  • etc

Some of the words we use as an alternative to procrastinating actually have negative connotations. Yet we still use them to describe the act. Which is a reflection of how gloomy we attribute the word to.

While some people see procrastination as a mortal enemy and constantly try to defeat it. Others see it as part and parcel of life and embrace it like an indulgence.

No matter where you are at regarding procrastination, there are 4 major sources of it.

1) Avoiding pain

Pain is not all physical. Psychological pain can, in many ways, be much more destructive to a person.

And it can be so much pain to bear that an individual does everything he can to avoid doing things that evoke psychological pain.

The level of psychological pain a person can endure depends from person to person.

So while you might be able to withstand heavy amounts of misery and heartbreak, others might have a very low tolerance for even a minute amount of it.

For example, the prospect of missing the latest episode of your favorite drama series on prime time can be too torturous on your mind to skip it just to catch up on school revision.

2) Fear of failure

I remember a time when I was fit as a fiddle and could do 10 chin-ups easily. Yet I never attempted to go above 10 because I was afraid that I would find out my limit was at 11 or 12. This little fear in me stopped me from ever finding out, or going beyond, my limits.

While the above is not a great example of the fear of failure triggering procrastination, it is still an appropriate example of it.

We live in a world where failure is looked down upon. Even relatives in family gathering love to gossip and laugh over the people around them encountering failure.

It’s not nice. But a fact of life.

The fear of being unable to accomplish whatever task you attempt to take on can lead to hardcore procrastination.

3) Social disapproval

We only need to look at social media to see how important people view social acceptance is in life.

The constant sharing, liking and commenting is very much about social acceptance.

People for example would share stuff that their friends would like and avoid sharing things that would be met with disapproval.

A fear of social disapproval can be a big source of underlying motivation to procrastinate.

There’s nothing worse than spending hours on an activity and being ridiculed by family and peers for doing it.

4) Unjustified

Often times in life, we have to do things that we don’t like, yet are expected of us.

While many still go through the process of doing these “unwanted” stuff, many also refuse to go through with it.

For example, you might feel a little resentment or even anger that your mother laid the expectation on you to empty the trash everyday. You feel that it’s unjustified how you somehow became the person responsible for this task. And decides to procrastinate instead.

You have not been treated fairly. And there’s no justification for you to go out of your way to do a task that has been thrown at you.

There are some basic ways you can apply to defeat this enemy of your residing in your head.

If you have already decided to combat it, you already have the battle half-won. The next step is to take action.

Just do it

I used to go to the gym. And for a period of time, decided to stop altogether because the traveling is just too boring and tiresome.

This simple reason alone was enough to demotivate me from working out.

But I found that I enjoy exercising. The problem was the journey to the gym.

To eliminate this laziness, I forced myself to just get out and make my way there no matter how unpleasant the trip might be. Because once I get there, I would be having a blast of a time.

Set aside time for unwanted tasks

You might see certain tasks as a complete waste of time and therefore refuse to do it.

But maybe a part of you might find that it is necessary to do them. Or else your wife would be nagging at you for the whole week. Or that you would have to sidestep your boss when you see him in the office after the weekend.

In this case, set aside a little time just to complete those pesky tasks.

For example set a time and decide that you would spend 30 minutes for housekeeping. And stop as soon as the 30 minutes expire.

This method helps you to get your ass up and at least get a little stuff done.

Give yourself a treat

Can you recall the last time you rewarded yourself and given yourself a treat?

Most people can’t.

A great way to motivate yourself to take action is to reward yourself with a treat when an errand is done.

For example, you might have always felt a sense of guilt when playing video games for 4 hours straight. You can reward yourself with that 4 hours on the condition that you get a specific task done. You can then have guilt-free gaming and enjoy it better.

Make yourself accountable

When you go public with a declaration of your commitment to beat procrastination, you will feel that others will be holding you accountable to do exactly that.

This is very powerful stuff.

Being held accountable can often be motivation enough to “coerce” yourself into doing something your don’t like, yet knows it is good for you.

3 Types Of To-Do List To Help Get More Done In Less Time

Keeping a to-do list is one of the oldest tricks in the book.

It serves as a reminder to get something done in case you forget. It gives you a target of stuff to settle before the end of the day. And most importantly, it makes you feel good about how you have spent your time… giving you a sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue the healthy habit.

Are you ready to move on to the next level?

To get even more effective on how you manage time, I suggest that you work with 3 types of list.

1) Master to-do list

As the name suggest, this is a master list of everything you want to get done. It should include things that need your immediate attention and everything else that requires later attention.

Just list everything down and rank them by the level of priority they deserve.

Don’t be embarrassed about listing micro tasks too. Nobody will be able to see your list and judge you.

As our commitments and priorities change daily, don’t be afraid to add, edit, and delete items from this list on a daily basis. It is supposed to be dynamic.

2) Today to-do list

Because this list is a subset of the master list, every item found here should be in the master list too. Just that the items here require your attention in completing today.

Every night before bed or every morning before you start the day, you should pull out this list and plan how you are going to complete all the task by the end of the day.

Planning can greatly help you be more efficient in execution.

For example, if you need to pick up some documents in the city, you might be able to pick up the doggie treat from the pet shop on the way. Squeezing personal errands into work is one of the hallmarks of a great time manager.

And if it’s a day of running errands, make sure to group tasks around geography. This could mean that you might want to do some of the task belonging in the master list even though they do not belong to the today list.

For example, if you can predict that you shampoo would be running out in about a month, there’s no harm picking them up today since you would be going to the supermarket to complete some of the jobs on the today list.

3) Later to-do list

This list will contain activities that you know you need to do sooner or later. But since there is no emergency situation to do them now, you can wait for at least a few days or for as long as you feel like it.

While go through your master list and exporting items into the today list, you might find that a some of the remaining items on the master list can actually only be done some time later.

Sometimes there are things that we are unable to do until a later date. Situations like this include:

  • Needing to meet someone who is out of town
  • Needing to visit a store that is closed for the next 2 weeks
  • Needing to attend an annual sales event that is coming in a month
  • Needing to wait for 4 weeks before bringing your dog to the vet for vaccination
  • etc

It might help if you enter these items into your monthly or annual planner as well.

7 Tips for creating and managing to-do lists

Even though keeping a list has been practice followed by everyone from professionals to the regular person, many still don’t know how to optimize this habit. Here are some tips.

1) Don’t go crazy with it

Sometimes, some people feel that having a long list is something to boast about because… it makes them seem busy.

For example, I can tell that some colleagues actually break down a never ending list on their smart devices and reveal a smirk whenever someone else manages to catch a glimpse of it.

They then give the “I’m a busy person” look.

I hope that won’t be you.

Using a to-do list is a way to organize your life. Not something used for social approval.

2) Don’t include things that you won’t forget

While I did mention to list all the stuff you need to do in your list, please practice a little mindfulness.

For example if you wake up everyday at 7am, you don’t need to write that down. Or if you always take the subway at 8am, you don’t have to key that into your planner too.

To-do list is not just a way to keep you on track. It is supposedly a technique to remind you of task that you might forget too.

So if there are things that don’t need reminders, exclude them.

3) Definitely do the highest priority task first

You might want to give all your task a number of between 1 to 3 with 3 being of the highest importance or most difficult.

Always do the most important assignments first. Or else you might frequently find that you don’t have enough time to complete them at the end of the day.

4) Plan your time

There would always be times during the day when you are more opportunity to be focused or otherwise.

For example, for me,

  • the hour before official office hours start always seem to be calm.
  • The time between commencement of office hours to lunch time always seem to be about internal meetings and communications.
  • The time from after lunch till late afternoon tend to be chaotic.
  • Starting from about an hour or 2 before official knock-off things start to calm down with peace and quiet again.
  • Night time after 9pm tend to be the most relaxed and best for creative work

Take note of your schedules as well. And plan properly on which timings are best for completing certain tasks.

5) Be realistic

Just because you list down a hundred tasks to do during the day does not mean that you are going to check off every one of them.

Be reasonable with yourself. The more items you are unable to strike off your list, the more demotivated you might get. And that can plant a thought into your mind that being average is perfectly fine.

That’s not how you’d want to approach your personal growth.

6) Break tedious task into smaller parts

If a certain activity seem to daunting to complete in one day, it is perfectly alright to acknowledge that. Break it up into 3 or even 5 days.

7) Make resting part of your to-do list

While we dream about going through our work or personal commitments like a machine in a factory production line, a reasonable individual should be able to recognize that that is not always possible.

Give yourself a break. Better yet. FORCE yourself to take breaks. You deserve it. Input break times into your to-do list.

As you can probably tell from my writing, I take to-do lists seriously. But to really gain traction on this technique to manage time, you will need to recognize how to manage and execute it properly.

How you intend to do that is a question you need to ask yourself.

What Is Moving Meditation?

It’s safe to say that most of you are probably familiar with the concept of meditation.

You sit, relax, and clear your mind.

Usually, it’s accompanied by incense and other things designed to make it easier to relax.

However, a concept that is less well known is the idea of “moving meditation” (also often referred to as movement meditation).

Although the name is somewhat self-explanatory, I plan to explain exactly what moving meditation is. In this article, you will not only get a full explanation of what it is, but I will also explain some of the more common examples of movement meditation.

What is moving meditation?

When you think of a stereotypical “meditation” scene, you probably think of people sitting cross-legged in a small, closed-off room.

While this is definitely a legitimate form of meditation (and probably the most popular kind), it’s not the only way to meditate.

Moving meditation is basically meditating while doing some sort of physical activity.

The actual activity itself is largely irrelevant; it can be something complex, like yoga, or it can be something simple, like walking.

The only important point is that the activity has to be simple enough that you can do it, while still clearing on your mind and focusing on individual things.

One of the biggest differences between regular meditation and movement meditation relates to what you focus on while doing it.

With regular meditation, the focus is on breathing.

People are encouraged to think about their breathing and to focus on it.

With moving meditation, the focus shifts to things like muscles.

People are encouraged to focus on their muscles. More specifically, they focus on how their movement affects their muscles.

The idea behind meditation is to focus on something simple and repetitive like what I described above in order to help focus the brain’s energy.

Examples of moving meditation

Aerobic exercises

By far the most common forms of moving meditation are the various aerobic exercises that people do.

Things like yoga, Tai Chi, and Pilates act as both aerobic exercises and forms of movement meditation.

Aikido

Aikido is a form of Japanese martial arts.

It’s not very aggressive, meaning that it’s mostly useful as a form of exercise or as a limited form of self-defense. Because of the nature of Aikido, it can also act as a form of moving meditation.

Labyrinth meditation

Finally, there is labyrinth meditation.

As the name implies, you effectively meditate while walking through a labyrinth.

The idea is that labyrinth acts as a sort of puzzle that you have to solve, which works to focus your mind.

5 Mindful Exercises That Keep Stress In Check

Because of the crazy world we live in today, we are being subjected to more stress than our bodies were meant to endure.

Our caveman ancestors occasionally were subjected to stressful situations where their bodies implemented the “fight or flight” response as a way to prepare them with the energy and mental awareness needed to either take a stand and fight or flee the scene.

In occasional short-term situations, it is beneficial to our health.

But today, many of us are in the “fight or flight” response most of our day, every day… and it is taking its toll on our bodies.

The effects of stress

When we are under a stressful situation, the hormone cortisol is released into our system.

That triggers several biological changes, like dilation of the pupils, increased heart rate and an increase in mental sharpness.

Once the situation is resolved, the cortisol stops and things get back to normal.

But when under chronic stress, the constant cortisol in our system can cause health issues like:

  • Weight gain
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Tense muscles
  • Low sex drive
  • Fatigue
  • Missed period in females
  • Erectile dysfunction in males
  • And fertility problems in both genders

While we can’t control the situations causing the stress in many cases, we can learn how to respond to them in a more controlled way … a way the reduces the release of cortisol.

Control the cortisol and you can control the effects of it. Four ways that we are going to discuss to control the effects of stress are:

  • Mindful Awareness
  • Mindful Breathing
  • Mindful Meditation
  • The Yoga Advantage

Mindful Awareness

Much of the stress we experience today is based on how we perceive what is happening around us.

But there is a space in time between when the stress happens and our response to it; it is this brief period of time that we can determine how a situation will affect us.

The key? Concentration of the moment.

For example, let’s say you are having a cup of tea. If you are stressed about the dozens of different things racing around in your mind at the time, you will drink the tea, but not have enjoyed it.

If you have a cup of tea everyday at the same time, then it becomes a conditioned response – something you do without thinking much about doing it. But you are not enjoying it because you are always preoccupied with other things.

However with mindful awareness, you clear your mind of the stressors, i.e. the things that are preventing you from truly enjoying the flavor, smell and taste of the tea, and you concentrate on having the cup of tea and the joy it brings to you each and every day.

Mindful Breathing

One of the ways people use to learn how to concentrate and get that mindful awareness is to concentrate on their breathing.

Normally most people naturally breath in and breath out without thinking about doing it because it is a natural bodily function.

However, when we actually focus on the act of breathing, everything else that normally distracts us goes away.

To breath mindfully, try this exercise:

  • Start by sitting with your back straight. If you can sit cross-legged on the floor, so much the better. If not, sitting in a chair or on the edge of the bed is fine too.
  • Next, place the tip of your tongue against the top of your mouth right behind your upper front teeth. Hold your tongue in the position during the entirety of the breathing exercise. Be sure your lips slightly pursed so air can get out.
  • Start the breathing exercise by forcibly exhaling completely through your mouth.
  • Now, close your mouth and inhale slowly through your nose for four seconds.
  • Hold your breath for seven seconds.
  • Exhale forcibly through your mouth for eight seconds.
  • This completes one breath cycle. Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breathes.

As you breathe in, hold it and breathe out, clear your mind of everything else and concentrate on each of the three breathe steps.

Do this breathing exercise at least twice a day. During the first month, limit your breathing to four breath cycles each time.

After the first month, increase the breath cycles to eight each session, and still at least twice a day.

Because this breathing exercise is a natural relaxant for your brain and nervous system, you can use it whenever a stressful situation arises and interrupt the “fight or flight” response and the associated cortisol release.

And over time, if done often enough, your breathing will naturally become deeper and more rhythmic thus drawing in more air with every breath.

More air means more oxygen to your cells. The more air out, the more carbon dioxide (a by-product or cellular activity) will come out with it helping to detoxify your cells and make them work more efficiently.

Mindful Meditation

Having started in the Buddhist religion, meditation in one form or another has been around for over 5,000 years and is still being used today.

Do you think it would have endured if it was not beneficial?

While there are many different forms of meditation, one similarity all of them have is a high level of concentration on a single object: repeating a single word or mantra, staring at a candle flame or focused on breathing.

With mindful meditation, an individual’s focus is on the different thoughts that cross their mind during the meditation session.

But what is different is that they simply observe the thoughts and do not make any judgments about them one way of the other – negatively or positively.

By focusing on just the thoughts, and not judging them, an inner peace starts to develop and the stress level drops dramatically.

The Yoga Advantage

Yoga has both physical and mental benefits.

Physical movements called asanas or poses benefit the body. Ironically, breathing and meditation are two of the mental elements of yoga that benefit the brain. Both mental and physical benefits help reduce stress and the effects of it over the long-term.

As noted above, one of the mental effects of stress is losing the ability to concentrate on one thing at a time.

For some people, everything is a crisis and triggers the “fight or flight” response and corresponding release of cortisol.

But as also noted above, breathing and meditation exercises, which are part of yoga, negate the mental effects of stress, so doing yoga just for its mental effects is worth the price of admission.

But how about the physical effects of stress. Can yoga help with that also? The answer is yes.

Some of the benefits derived from the physical side of yoga include:

  • More flexibility
  • Better muscle strength and tone
  • Improved respiration, energy and vitality
  • Boost in metabolism
  • Better weight management including loss if that is a goal
  • Improved cardio and circulatory health
  • Better athletic performance
  • More protection from injury
  • A more erect posture
  • Improved bone health
  • Better immunity to disease and illness

If new to yoga, there are six easy poses to start out with before moving up to the more complex ones.

Mountain Pose

  • Stand straight with your feet together, shoulders relaxed, weight evenly distributed on your feet, arms at your sides.
  • Take a deep breath while at the same time extending your hands overhead, palms facing each other with arms straight. Reach up toward the sky with your fingertips.
  • Hold for a few seconds before returning to the starting position.

Downward Dog

  • Start by getting down on all fours so both feet and hands are on the floor with your hands directly under your shoulders, knees under your hips.
  • Walk your hands a few inches forward and spread fingers wide, pressing palms into mat.
  • Come up on your toes and slowly press your hips toward ceiling, bringing your body into an inverted V. Feet should be hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  • Hold the position for 3 full breaths.

Warrior

  • Start by standing up straight.
  • Turn 90 degrees to the right at the waist and take a step forward with your leading leg so that your feet end up being 3 to 4 feet apart; your left foot should be turned in slightly to the right also.
  • Bring your hands up, relax your shoulders, and then extend your arms out to the sides, palms down.
  • Bend your right knee at 90 degrees, keeping knee over ankle; gaze out over right hand. Stay for 1 minute.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

Tree Pose

  • Stand with your arms at sides.
  • Shift your weight onto your left leg and place sole of your right foot flat on the inside of your left thigh, keeping hips facing forward.
  • Once balanced, bring hands in front of you in prayer position, palms together.
  • On inhalation, extend arms over shoulders, palms separated and facing each another. Stay for 30 seconds.
  • Lower and repeat on opposite side.

Bridge Pose

  • Lie on floor on your back with your knees bent and directly over your heels.
  • Place arms at sides, palms down.
  • Exhale, then press your feet into floor as you lift your hips.
  • Clasp hands under your lower back and press arms down, lifting hips until thighs are parallel to floor, bringing the chest up toward the chin. Hold for 1 minute.

Triangle Pose

  • From the standing position, extend your arms out to sides.
  • While bending over your right leg, stand so that your feet are about 3 feet apart, toes on your right foot turned out to 90 degrees, left foot to 45 degrees.
  • Allow your right hand to touch the floor or rest on your right leg below the knee and extend the fingertips of your left hand toward the ceiling.
  • Turn your gaze toward the ceiling and hold for 5 breaths.
  • Stand back up to the staring position and repeat on opposite side.

Use these sample mindfulness exercises to not only improve your mental health, but your physical one too.

Repeat as often as necessary to keep stress levels low, reduce the effects of cortisol release and its negative effects on both the mind and body.