Can you feel the impending deadlines slowly lulling you to sleep, slowly tightening around you like a trap? You know you really should be working on getting your big task done, but it just seems so large: its deadline so far away.
Far off deadlines tell us one major thing: it says “This project is going to be BIG.”, and the bigger and more challenging the task we perceive to be, the more we are going to be challenged to get started in the first place.
Far off deadlines create procrastination for 2 major reasons…
First, far off deadlines tell us that this project is big, and big projects are intimidating. When we are told we have weeks or even months to complete something, our urgency to get something done is virtually eliminated, while the perceived complexity of the task skyrockets in our mind.
Second, far off deadlines greatly increase our chances of waiting until it is too late to get everything done. When you are given large amounts of time to get something done, it becomes much easier to say to yourself “Self, we still have 3 weeks to get this project done, lets do something else today, and we will start working on this project ______.”- insert tomorrow, next week, in two days, etc…
We have all done it before.
You know that feeling, there was some test, project, or that exam you had weeks to work on, yet you end up pulling an all nighter and drinking an entire pot of coffee just to stay up and get it done.
You probably told yourself that you would do better next time, yet, you repeat the same behaviors over and over again.
Most human being will only do something when we feel like we HAVE to do something.
A great weakness in the human mind is that we will often just flat out refuse to do things until we have to do them, or in other words, we will do no more that we have to do.
How many of us go to jobs, complain all day about being there, yet act out the same low quality and crappy work day in and day out. Do we perform our job better to increase our chances of getting noticed and promoted? No. Do we pitch new and exciting ideas to our boss to get added to cutting edge projects and teams? No. And, do we look for other jobs that we would like more? Again, no!
Most of us are ok with good enough, we aren’t looking for the best possible scenario, and that’s exactly the same motivating force that will cause us to goof off for 2 weeks and stay up all night to do one simple project.
Most of us are far better at doing things that we have to do, than doing things that we should do, or even things we need to do.
It makes much more sense to exercise for 20 minutes a day 6 days a week for 3 months, than it does to eat junk and lay on the couch for 2 months and crash diet for 2 weeks, but most of would do the crash diet anyway.
The people who get things done are the people with pressure to get things done, whether they create the pressure, or whether the pressure comes from somewhere else is irrelevant.
Many men will cheat on their wives or girlfriends for years, tell himself all long that they should stop, but they never do, and then they get caught; after they get caught and are faced with the thought of losing their lover, all of a sudden it is time to change.
What gets thing done is urgency, its commitment and integrity to follow things through until they are done. If you think you have a choice to wait another day to act, most of the time you will.
So how do we beat procrastination and things done?
Put a healthy amount of pressure on yourself, and make sure you get it done.
There are two ways to do things. You either lock yourself in a room, remove all distractions, and work your ass off until your task is done, or you can do a little bit eat day, for a set amount of time until it’s all done.
So let us imagine you have a big project that needs to be completed 2 months from now, you can either wait until the last week and kill yourself trying to get it done then, or you can do 1 of 2 things: 1, you set a deadline to get it done in one week starting right now, or you can schedule a small amount of time each and every single day from now until 2 months from now to get it done.
Some people work better with immense pressure on themselves (ie short deadlines and very intense hard work), and some people work better with mild pressure (longer deadlines but with a high degree of willpower to make themselves do a little bit each day).
For myself, too much pressure actually shuts me down; I work well with a pressure rating of maybe 5 or 6 out of 10, go higher than that and I melt, go much lower than that and I will shut down and fall to sleep.
Put pressure on yourself by setting a shorter and much more condensed deadline by turning a 2 month deadline into a 2 week deadline and start today, or commit to doing 30 minutes each day until it is done.
You have to decide which technique works better for you, but trust me, that big project that needs to get done someday is never going to get done until it’s almost too late, and you will end up doing a half ass job getting done then what you should be doing now.
It is better to have a fully completed project sitting in a folder for 1,5 months waiting for a deadline, then it is to have an empty folder mocking you everyday for the next 7 weeks.
So try it out! Are you interested in learning more specific ways to beat procrastination and get more done? Leave a comment below and let me know what types of things are challenging you and I will gladly create a follow up post in the future. Thanks a lot for reading, and please give the article a share if you know someone who could benefit from the post.