How to stop procrastinating by doing nothing
Procrastination is the real devil in today’s society. And that devil is offering you ice cream in exchange of not working.
My professors in university used to joke that their house is never as clean as it is during the exam week. When they are supposed to grade our work, they choose to clean their house instead.
Imagine how much more results you would have gotten so far if you didn’t procrastinate as much?
I am soooo guilty of this. ALL. THE. TIME. I’d rather go organize my pantry for the third time this week instead of writing the blog post that has been dragging itself in my editorial calendar for several days now.
Well, recently I stumbled upon a piece of advice on how to beat procrastination that seemed completely counter-intuitive and ridonculous. But, after trying it out, it actually blew my socks off how effective it was!
*takes her socks off*
So, let me share it with you and help you procrastinate further. We both know you are supposed to be doing something else right now.
DON’T JUST DO SOMETHING, STAND THERE
Did you read that right? 😉
Yep, instead of trying to do something to kick yourself out of procrastination, just do NOTHING. Just sit quietly for 15-20 minutes and think of what you’re going to do. This will help you break the pattern of delaying, distraction, and time wasting.
If you do this often, over time you will actually feel less inclined to procrastinate.
WHY DOES THIS WORK
The reason why doing absolutely nothing for 20 minutes works is because it accomplishes two things:
- sitting still will prevent you from engaging in those avoidance behaviors, such as cleaning, browsing social media, or eating
- once you think about WHAT you want to do and WHY, you will be more inclined and pumped up to actually do it
ANXIETY AS A REASON TO PROCRASTINATE
I can tell from personal experience that I usually procrastinate because I am scared to fail. I put pressure on myself to perform.
Instead, I end up doing nothing productive, because I don’t even start working. This is called “performance anxiety“.
Studies show that a little bit of motivation (or pressure from outside sources) will help you perform better.
Imagine being asked to throw a basketball into the net. If someone promises to give you $1 each time the ball ends up in the net, you will feel more inclined to perform better.
Most likely, you will actually perform better.
But, what if someone promised you $10K for every shot that you land? And you can only have 10 tries? You’ll probably start sweating a little bit. You’ll start getting nervous…
… and you won’t land as many shots as in the first scenario. If any.
It’s the same with any kind of activity. The more pressure you put on yourself, the more likely you are to perform worse.
Sitting still can help you reduce this performance anxiety. Take a few deep breaths and you might find yourself more ready to start working than before.
I have actually written a blog post on how to use a breathing technique to reduce anxiety. If you can relate to what I’m saying in this post, you might want to read that one, too. (and share it!)
DON’T TELL ANYONE ABOUT YOUR GOALS
Our brain does not recognize whether we are imagining something or actually living it. it literally can’t tell the difference between you thinking of eating ice cream and you actually eating ice cream.
What’s with all the ice cream examples? I’m sorry, it’s really hot in here.
And since your brain cannot differentiate these things, it’s better to keep your goals to yourself.
I have noticed it myself – if I share my goal with someone (this does not include my coach), I usually do not reach it.
It’s because once we share the goal with someone, our brain thinks that we have actually completed it already. I know that this does not sound very scientific, so please do your own research on this.
But, again, sharing a goal with someone else might trick you into procrastinating even more instead of working for it. Or, it can add even more performance anxiety because of the external pressure.
It’s better to think of your goal while you are sitting in those 20 minutes and doing nothing. Think of your WHY. It will pump you up!
DON’T MAKE IT SO COMPLICATED
At the end of the day, you need to remember that the sun will still rise in the morning. This work that you’re procrastinating to tackle on might not be THAT important, after all.
So, if it’s not that important, do you really need to do it?
Or, would anything really change if you did complete it?
Don’t make it so difficult on yourself and, like one very famous company says, Just frakking do it.
Hi! I’m Cornelia.