It’s hard to stop procrastination when you’re feeling uninspired, tired or unmotivated and it can be very challenging. But don’t worry – this article is here to tell you how. With the rise of smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets, procrastination has become a number one threat to personal and professional productivity.
After all, it’s just so easy to decide to take a small break when faced with a challenging job task or an assignment. Soon, however, a small break could turn into 3-hour Wikipedia tour with no progress done on the thing that has actually been stressing you.
Sound familiar? Then you may want to check out the following advice to stop the vicious cycle of procrastination once and for all.
Use the 2-Minute Rule to Stop Procrastination
Feeling uninspired is one of the main reasons for procrastinating. This can be especially stressful if you’re faced with a huge task such as cleaning your entire house, making a life-changing decision or stopping a harmful habit.
One thing that psychologists have so far agreed on is that there is a solution – and it’s quite simple. The so-called ‘2-minute rule’ is probably one of the most effective methods to stop procrastination and it doesn’t require you to read tons of psychological literature or do anything life-threatening.
The specifics are as follows. Whenever you’re faced with something you consider challenging (and this varies from person to person), stop perceiving the task as one fundamental problem. The resulting stress is probably the main reason for you feeling uninspired or unmotivated.
Instead, take the time to break the problem down into smaller chunks that could realistically be achieved within 2 minutes. While this may not stop procrastination outright, it’s nearly a guarantee you’ll feel relieved and much more energetic.
For example, let’s say you really want to complete a 30-day kickboxing programme. Pretty challenging, right? However, if you break it down into smaller chunks, the problem is not nearly all that bad.
- Take out your sports clothes and your exercise mat (2 minutes).
- Prepare a drink of water beforehand (2 minutes).
- Prepare the timer and the workout instructions (2 minutes).
- Do a brief cardio warm-up (2 minutes).
- Do 1 exercise (2 minutes).
- Do the final exercise in the 30-day programme (2 minutes).
The psychological power of the 2-minute approach is in reducing a very difficult obstacle to a series of easy-to-overcome hurdles. Instead of the monumental task of stopping procrastination as a whole, you’re just following a list of simple steps that you have designed yourself.
Sure, this may not resolve all the problems responsible for you feeling uninspired or tired but it’s certainly a start. One piece of advice is to write your list of activities by hand to engage your muscle memory. If you don’t have a pen, use note-taking apps on your phone. But whatever you do, don’t simply keep the list in your head as this would probably lead to more procrastination.
Rely on Friends to Feel Inspired and Engaged
This may seem simple but in reality, people often ignore this recommendation. After all, there often are reasons when you simply don’t want to talk about trying to stop procrastination or how you’re feeling uninspired. The truth is, your friends are there to help you and, if not, they’re probably not the people you want to have as your friends anyway.
One of the most powerful tools to stop feeling uninspired is to explicitly talk about your plans with your social circle. Discuss your long-term and short-term objectives and why they’re important. To stop procrastination, mention specific dates and how exactly you’re planning to achieve your objectives.
The benefits of this are two-fold. Firstly, your friends are likely to mention similar situations they have encountered in the past, give advice or offer help on your personal self-improvement journey. Another advantage is that talking about your plans, stopping procrastination or your negative feelings increases the feeling of responsibility. At this point, you’ve not only made a commitment to yourself, but you’ve also made a very explicit commitment to other people. If you’re feeling uninspired, this can be a very powerful motivator.
Another cool benefit of communicating your problems to your friends is that they may decide to get involved personally. Say you want to start running but have no idea how; the concept seems exhausting physically and emotionally. Now imagine you’re starting running not by yourself but with a good friend.
Suddenly the perspective of jogging along in a public park might actually seem like a good time. Sometimes stopping procrastination or overcoming the lack of inspiration requires a joint effort. Not to mention that this is a great way to keep up with what’s going on in your friends’ lives if you just don’t have much time to hang out together. Just don’t push yourself and your friends too hard!
Make Your Environment Cleaner and More Organised
You’d be surprised at how much we humans depend on our own environment. Ever noticed how being surrounded by clutter is making you feel down or uninspired? Conversely, have you ever felt that deep feeling of satisfaction after finally cleaning your room or your working space? If the answer is yes (and it most certainly is), then you have another powerful tool to stop procrastinating at your disposal.
Specifically, don’t just clean your room or the space you work at once, twice or thrice a month. The best way to achieve this is to follow a specific schedule of activities and not forget about the 2-minute rule. It’s much better to do small stuff every day than dedicate an entire day to cleaning. For example, make Tuesday your vacuuming day or Thursday the laundry folding day.
Little by little, you’ll stop feeling uninspired and realise that you probably have much more productivity than you initially imagined. Sure, some people hire cleaners to do all this stuff for them but it’s not nearly as satisfying as doing it all yourself or with a little help from your friends or your partner. Cleaning provides an opportunity for spending some time with yourself and some personal reflection.
One other point to make is that cleaning is just one method you could use to improve your environment. In order to stop procrastination, you could also re-structure your working space. Ever noticed that the items you need are always out of reach? Or felt uninspired because starting a new project required going to a different room, getting supplies and cleaning up?
Not to worry! By simply making a few simple adjustments, you’ll avoid a very significant source of procrastination. This applies not only to making your workspace more functional but also making it cosier. If you have an opportunity, take the time to decorate your environment using colours or items that you like. It’s a small thing but everything counts in your battle to stop procrastination. Plus you’ll have a blast doing it!
Create a Support System and a Model of Pre-Commitment
This suggestion is probably not going to work for everybody but if you’re feeling confident, you could give it a go. The idea of pre-commitment is that you prevent feeling uninspired by creating some sort of punishment for not meeting your objectives.
Nobody is asking you to deliberately withhold fun or affection. The idea is to make punishments easy on yourself and even kind of fun.
One idea is to use web apps such as stickK to create an automated model of pre-commitment. When using stickK, you’re asked to submit your payment information and your personal goals. If you miss the deadline you have set, a sum that you yourself designate is immediately sent to a charity or an organisation that might not necessarily agree with your own beliefs.
Not mentioning any specific names, stickK has a great catalogue of causes that might not appeal to everybody. If this seems overly dramatic, you can always ask your friends to come up with a punishment for missing your commitments. Hey, if it means stopping procrastination, anything goes.
A contrasting idea is that we don’t have to be too hard on ourselves for procrastinating. After all, it’s only human to make mistakes or avoid things we don’t actually like. If you’re feeling uninspired, try to monitor your thoughts. If they seem unreasonably bashful, you might need a re-think. Not to say missing a deadline is totally fine but it shouldn’t be grounds for self-loathing either.
Another great suggestion is to reduce negative thoughts by doing things that are not necessarily included in your plans but are still relevant. If you’re stressing over starting a new project, making some revisions in your old works might help.
Procrastination truly is one of the greatest threats facing your personal and professional productivity. What’s worse, if you’re procrastinating, you can’t blame anyone but yourself. But don’t despair! The above suggestions should not only stop procrastination but also make your life much more fulfilling and fun.