Procrastination can either make or break your project. Your creativity can be shut down by stress which is what happens to some people when they push things off. It can be wiped out because you are now in fight or flight mode. Survival mode. If you don't work well in this kind of setting, here are some ways on how to stop procrastination.
I am a planner and have always been a planner. However, there were moments in college when I procrastinated. These are the moments I knew I could not work like that.
I get extremely stressed out. It's almost like my brain stops working but really the wheels are just spinning and spinning like a hamster wheel. Spinning so much that I don't know how to calm it down and make it stop. I can say goodbye to any creative ideas because they already left my brain.
When I hit this point, I want to give up. Throw in the towel. I just really don't work well with procrastination.
I'd always had trouble with group projects because many others did procrastinate. I would try to get the group together, they would push it off and say don't worry, we'll get it done. And I'm in my dorm having a panic attack because we haven't done a single thing yet!
I am a loner when it comes to academics. I like to have a plan. However, many of my friends did not. And that's okay! They were just more relaxed than me and did better with procrastination.
Even in sports, softball which is a situational game, I always had a plan in place for every play. I would run through the scenarios before the next pitch so I knew my options. By the time I was in high school, I had a lot of knowledge of the game. So, again, I was planning my routes. This is what made me better when it came to playing under pressure.
Planning is my game, procrastination can be my fate of creativity if I let it.
To clarify, procrastination DOES not work for me and it does not bring the best out of me either. So, I need to stop procrastination because it's in my best interest that I do. :)
Stop Procrastination If It Doesn't Work For You
I am NOT saying procrastination is bad. Some people do extremely well with it. Actually, some people come up with their best ideas or their best work when they have procrastinated. I think this is wonderful. I am always in awe of people who can say or do things on a whim.
However, not everyone works well with procrastination but they keep doing it. If you are one of those people, you may not be getting the best out of your brainpower. Likewise, you may be cutting yourself short. Your most creative ideas may be hindered because you are stressed out. For those who have trouble with procrastination, your best ideas may not have time to come to fruition because you haven't given yourself enough time to think about it.
If you feel stressed under pressure, set yourself up for success and your most creative ideas with these doable hacks that will show you how to stop procrastinating.
Break Projects Up
To stop procrastination, you have to do a little bit of planning. This hack is one of my favorites out of the three. Only because it has helped me the most. I do all three still and will continue to do so because of the success I get with them together.
When you have a big project that needs to be done with a deadline, break it up. Don't try to do it all at once in two days. This will put you in survival mode, only get it done so it's done. Your ideas go out the window!
So, you are given two weeks to complete this project. Break the project up into sections. Sections that you can work on for about 30 minutes each day. Once you have broken the project into pieces, write down in your planner or a calendar which piece you will do on which day. This will help you stick to your goal.
Not to mention, each day you do a section of the project is like having a small win and taking a small action step towards the end goal. Those small wins will help your motivation to keep moving forward. Because you feel successful! Humans thrive on this feeling.
So, set yourself up to feel successful by breaking your project into small sections each day before the deadline.
This will not only give you motivation but it will open your mind to be more creative. You won't wear out your brainpower.
Set a Timer
Humans are not meant to be in a flow state for hours upon hours. Our brain needs to time refocus.
So instead of working on something for two hours, make your focus time shorter. You know yourself best but this may take some playing around with. You need to figure out and decide how long you can work on something without being distracted. Distraction is your brain telling you that it needs a little break. You need to listen to it. Having a wandering mind makes things much harder to focus on a task. And it's OKAY that your mind wanders. It's allowed to. Sometimes our best ideas happen with a wandering mind. Give your brain a chance to wander.
If you fear that you will wander for too long, set a timer for that too.
My flow state seems to be between 20-30 minutes. If I continue what I am working on, it takes much longer for me to do than if I would have just given my mind a break to wander.
So, figure out your flow state. Set a timer for it.
For example, I really enjoy writing. But my most creative writing comes within 20 minutes of sitting down at the computer. So, I set a timer for 20 minutes, then give myself a break. Then, come back to it again.
Another example is when I am taking my brain lessons. I can only focus for about 20-30 minutes. After that, I start having a hard time comprehending what is being said. So, I stop. I don't want to miss out on information. I get back to my lesson when my brain is ready.
This hack takes awareness. So, be aware of your mental focus state. Being aware is an important tool to help you learn how to stop procrastinating.
Here's a great article from the author of Hyperfocus, Chris Bailey... 3 Things I Hope You Take Away From My New Book, Hyperfocus
Take Breaks to Stop Procrastination
The last, but certainly not least, hack to help you learn how to stop procrastination is to TAKE BREAKS.
Do something you enjoy but make sure it requires less brainpower. This means to watch an episode of your show on Netflix, go on a walk with your dog, sit on the porch, color, read a fiction book, whatever it is you enjoy doing. Just make sure it doesn't require you to use a whole lot of knowledge. This is a time for entertainment. A time to relax the way you want to.
Giving yourself a break to do the things you like will spark motivation in you.
When you go too hard, you're going to fizzle out. In other words, you are going to burnout. And most of the time it is before a project is done.
Don't let burnout sneak up on you, take a break when you need to. There is no shame in it. Besides, getting burnout can actually make procrastination worse. When you don't want to do something, you're going to push it back until the last minute. So keep burnout away.
So, yes, to beat procrastination breaks need to happen. Your best ideas and most creative ideas come out when you are properly rested.
So take that break after your 20-30 minute focus time! You don't need to explain yourself to anyone. And if you do, just tell them I'm giving myself time so I can be at my best.
Procrastination is good for some. But for others, it can zap your creativity. Get your best work done with these hacks to stop your procrastination habit. Cut your big project into sections, set a timer that aligns with your mental focus state, and take breaks.
If you do these three things, you will be successful in avoiding the dreaded procrastination.
Brain Health Coach
Owner of SustainaBRAIN