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Don’t Worry About How Long Things Take

How to procrastinate less and be more productive


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Kesten Harris

2 years ago | 4 min read

We, humans, are so dang weird. The more productive we want to be, the less we are. It’s a vicious and nonsensical cycle.

The most annoying way to procrastinate involves putting tasks off because they’d take too long. You don’t want to put in the time it takes to do the thing, so you put it off for as long as possible.

The problem with thinking like that is that the task usually takes less time than you thought. Even if it doesn’t, it’s better to chip away at the time it takes instead of complaining about it. You don’t have to do it all at once. In fact, you shouldn’t! Take your time. Whittle away the task’s length in digestible chunks.

Procrastination isn’t simple. It’s not something you can just choose not to do. It’s a bit of a psychological issue, so you might have to do some deep diving. You’ll have to discover the roots of what you call “laziness” and deal with it.

It sounds like more trouble than it’s worth, but if you can conquer your procrastination, you’ll:

  • Never succumb to lazy excuses again.
  • Be on top of all your tasks like never before.
  • Understand how your mind works a little better.

So how do you overcome this demon and improve productivity? All it takes is a few steps.

Recognize What You’re Doing

Most people don’t actually realize when they’re succumbing to anxiety, depressing thoughts, or procrastination. It’s more of a subconscious action. That’s why recognizing when it happens is a gamechanger.

Catching a thought or emotion while it’s there allows you to deal with it before it can influence you. Next time you try to put something off, catch yourself before you do it. Recognize that you’re procrastinating. Boom, now you know what it looks like. Now you can work on preventing it.

Build a mental barricade to keep those thoughts out. Then when they slip through anyway (because they’re sneaky like that), catch them again. Keep catching them up until they learn not to mess with you.

Realize What It Does to You

If you can’t stop yourself from procrastinating yet, start by acknowledging its impact. It wouldn’t be a problem if it was a positive influence, so think of all the side effects it has.

When I procrastinate from writing, it eats away at me. I think about the work I could be doing instead of whatever I’m actually doing. Sometimes this becomes a toxic work ethic trying to work its way into my head, but the general point is the same. The longer you hold off on work you can easily do, the longer it’ll torment you.

Getting your work done just a day before a deadline is only a triumph once or twice. If you keep it up, it becomes a habit. Now all of a sudden you’re incapable of doing your work when you’re actually supposed to. You can only do it under the stress of it being complete in a few hours.

That’s all well and good until you reach a situation where you can’t get it done in a few hours. There’s a reason why you’re given lots of time to complete an assignment. Some tasks can’t be rushed, so don’t procrastinate on them.

Does Procrastination Have a Secret Meaning?

Sometimes we do things for reasons we don’t think about. When you say you’re lazy, what do you really mean? Is there more to it than just a simple word? There usually is.

Procrastination is more than just being lazy. It was born from something. There’s a reason why you’re reluctant to finish your work.

Take the time to list out possible reasons for the procrastination:

  • Are you bored of your task?
  • Are you afraid of doing it poorly?
  • Does it give you anxiety?
  • Does it make you feel overwhelmed?
  • Does it make you sad?

There are dozens of reasons to put off something. In order to better understand yourself, you need to sort through them and decide if they’re reasonable or just excuses.

If they’re reasonable, then tackle them. I’m personally afraid of my stories disappointing people, so I decided to write them more for me than them. That way, even if they flop, at least one person will like them. Do something similar when tackling your own fears.

Bolster Your Defenses

We discussed catching your procrastinating thoughts in the act earlier, but there are other methods you can try to combat them.

  • Think of a reward. If you struggle with putting things off, then think of something you can give yourself after completing the task. It’ll motivate you to finish.
  • Focus. Put everything you’ve got into a particular task. Focus on it as hard as you can so that you won’t have the chance to avoid it.
  • Tackle a task as soon as it shows up. Once you put off something that pops up, it’s all over. Instead, tackle the task the second you’re aware of it just to get it out of the way.

Final Thoughts

Procrastination isn’t easy to overcome. Everyone’s dealt with it here and there. That means conquering it would put you in the minority. That’s an accomplishment in itself.

In the end, don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t whip yourself for procrastinating, just be understanding and work with your issues. Be kind to your brain and it might just want to cooperate more often.

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Kesten Harris

Kesten E. Harris is an author with four books and counting under his name. When he's not publishing those, he's writing self improvement articles.


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