When I think about my high-school and college years, I realize that I was acting as a constantly procrastinating perfectionist. A contradiction in terms, you might think. However, the very reason procrastination exists is people’s fear of imperfection. That is why I was always late with my assignments, research papers, and projects. I was so anxious about the failure that I postponed my tasks until the last minutes.
One of my college professors noticed me struggling and suggested that I would read The Now Habit by a distinguished psychologist Neil Fiore. This reading turned out to be my savior because it completely changed my perception of procrastination and the ways to handle it. Before reading the book, I had followed the principle “the harder you work, the more you achieve.” Fiore, however, says that this approach is doomed. Instead of becoming more industrious and productive, people get more exhausted and tired. Our brain starts to protect itself, so we procrastinate more. The author suggests looking at procrastination from a different perspective. Rather than constantly thinking about how to work more, we should think about having some rest.
To me, too, this advice seems a bit crazy. I was always taught that effective and detailed planning of work would result in more achievements. However, when thinking about the work all the time, we stress ourselves out. No wonder our brain chooses to procrastinate, which means to have unplanned rest. Nevertheless, short breaks are never sufficient because we are in the state of stress even when procrastinating. On the top of that, we blame ourselves for “laziness,” and the stress becomes even more severe.
You cannot deny a simple fact – everyone needs to rest. So, there are only two ways you can do it: either by relaxing regularly and calmly or by procrastinating and feeling guilty because of it. The second option – unscheduled – is more beneficial to your mind and body. If you like this idea, follow this simple plan:
Yes, you have to actually do it in your planner. This includes not only planning your weekend rest, but also securing enough time for meals, bed time, etc. The trick is to avoid working while “resting” – you cannot eat and work because none is 100% effective then.
Always take small steps whenever you want to overcome procrastination. You don’t have to think about all 18 hours to be invested into a project. Dedicate 30 minutes first, then have some rest, then work for 30 minutes more. This way your brain will get used to a work-rest routine and it will be easier for you to stay concentrated during longer periods.
Keeping track of how much you do is also helpful. Come up with a small reward you will give yourself after finishing every chunk of work.
These easy steps helped me fight procrastination and greatly improve my productivity. You could also try them and end that inner struggle of perfectionism and procrastination.