Many natural procrastinators I know are people who are praised for their intelligence. They misinterpret that as a sign that they don’t need to have structure for their brain’s daily activities, and don’t need to give it the proper respect and exercise that it requires and deserves. So they neglect it – let it run wild on the internet, gorge itself in spending all the time doing nothing except scrolling most of the time on social media, and allow it to lapse into a vicious cycle of unaccountable information binging and inevitable self-loathing.
Your brain adapts to, and then perpetuates, the habits to which it is constantly exposed. That fact doesn’t work in your favor right now, but you can change that.
1. Structure your time.
By scheduling your daily activities, you provide a motivation to be present and diligent for your responsibilities. Plus, this will discourage the huge, unhealthy blocks of surf time that arise when you don’t plan your time out ahead. As far as skill acquisition like studying goes, I recommend time management methods like the Pomodoro Technique to give your brain a healthy routine length. You may also want to invest in a timer, or a program that acts like one, so you can monitor how much time you’re actually spending plugged in, and hold yourself accountable for it in the future.
This tip also extends to structuring your sleep schedule. There’s always the internet. Learn to pull the plug, even when you don’t feel like you want to stop, and get your 6-8 hours a night. It does wonders for your self-control, self-image, and your presence in real life as opposed to inside your head. That’s the first step you have to do to stop procrastinating guys!
2. Figure out why you procrastinate.
Procrastination is a type of experiential avoidance that causes itself through an unwillingness to feel uncomfortable emotions, or be in unpleasant situations, even at personal detriment. Most people in today’s world are internet addicts because they want to avoid confronting their anxiety, low self-esteem, and feelings of helplessness, and in the end people end losing themselves in their laptop thus giving them the feeling that they are “in control.” It’s different for everyone, but this attitude is rather common nowadays. You owe it to yourself to be honest about what it is you’re procrastinating from, and why you fell into the habit. It may take some reflection.
3. Learn to tolerate, or even enjoy, putting time and effort into your work.
Many internet users in general have been conditioned into believing that truly intelligent people don’t need to work hard at what they do. I was one such person!
You may, presently, also believe that you are smart enough not to study. Don’t kid yourself anymore. That’s your brain talking, spoiled by lack of discipline and fattened up on trivia that it’ll never need to use, trying to sweet-talk you into not eating broccoli and having ice cream instead. You’ve got to be a tough-love parent, and make sure your kid eats his vegetables.
4. Incentivize your productivity.
Procrastinators have a problem with delaying gratification. Technology addicts, specifically, are driven to surf by the easy ‘accomplishment’ feeling from learning tidbits of Avatar or My Little Pony trivia, or perfecting their last-hitting in LoL, or racking up no-scopes in CoD, or scrolling down in Facebook. This is an easier way for your brain to create and savor small hits of dopamine than confronting real-life responsibilities – responsibilities that are harder, more time-consuming, and that give less obvious, more ambiguous rewards.
Personally, I totally believe in that style of discipline. Every time I accomplish a task, l give my self a small reward, no matter what the reward it is, it feels really good, and has helped me big time to stop procrastinating.
The main thing about this mindset is that you need to invest in your personal development in terms that your tech-addicted brain is already familiar with. Think about this – if you were playing The Sims, and your Sim self needed to go to work but was playing computer games instead, would you let him stay at his laptop? HELL NO.
5. You are not going to like the change in lifestyle.
It is going to feel like shit. Accept it and power through it anyway. The emotions that an addict suffers through while quitting are sweet siren calls, seductively beseeching you to slam your ship into the rocks. Your brain is used to the habit. It likes the habit. It doesn’t want you to stop. It will present you with thoughts that tempt you to break your combo and forsake your willpower.
You are not your habit. You are not your thoughts – You Can Change Them and Build New Habits and New Thoughts and around them you build a New YOU! Your thoughts and your habits – They are the many drops of water in the ocean that you are sailing in. The waters may be stormy and fickle, and may, without the force of your will, push you into shipwreck after shipwreck. It may seem easier just to let your ship be tossed wherever the follies of your brain take it. But it is your duty to captain your ship, especially in harder waters, and wrest yourself back on course with gritted teeth and the knowledge that you are stronger than the storm.
Reprinted with permission from Thought Catalog. Want more?