For many of us, procrastination is one of the most disturbing issues we have to deal with on a daily basis, along with stress and anxiety. Every day, we struggle to meet the expectations of the office environment even if we don’t particularly hate our jobs. We find it hard to do daily chores as we had planned because social media and other distractions always get in the way. Something is constantly stopping us from functioning effectively, and procrastination happens to be the reason in 90% of cases. Wondering what it takes to eliminate extreme laziness? Then you first have to understand the nature of your procrastination habit.
There is no single reason why people procrastinate. Each of us operates on a different amount of energy, depending on our health, environment, personality type, and lifestyle. Still, there are a few factors that can make even the most energetic of us lag behind. Check out these five very common enemies of productivity and get ideas on how you can beat them in your everyday life.
A poor night’s sleep
Getting enough rest everyday is a must if you want to get things done. Poor sleep quality is the first and foremost reason why you feel so miserable, hardly capable of getting out of bed in the morning. We get used to recharging our internal batteries with coffee, but it’s only a temporary solution for those chronically lacking sleep.
Whether you work freelance or commute to an office, living in a digital world doesn’t help you sleep well. Stress, a sedentary lifestyle, and lots of information being thrown at you from multiple screens can easily overwhelm you. While almost anyone might report having some kind of sleep problems, you may need to take several additional steps to overcome yours.
First, try to engage in some physical activity. You can walk instead of using transport or move your body while listening to your favorite music at home—even such simple activities will help you feel a bit more active in the daytime and get sleepy faster at night. It would also be super-helpful to enroll in a fitness program suitable for your current physical condition. If you think that exercise is boring, you probably just haven’t found your type of workout yet.
Second, you need to learn to switch to relaxation mode at night. Falling asleep is so difficult because we always carry our problems and worries to bed with us. Once you have broken this habit, you will find out how natural it is to relax and just let sleep come to you. If you live a hectic life (which most of us do), try transforming it into something completely different at night. Put your favorite comfortable clothes on and eat the food you like for dinner. Despite the advice against using screens an hour before bedtime (we know how impossible that is), you can watch whatever makes you feel good. No matter how hard your day was, you need to finish it in a way that you enjoy in order to relax and fall asleep.
The wrong food
Our energy level directly depends on how we fuel our bodies. If you prefer grabbing caffeinated drinks and sugary snacks all throughout the day, the energy boosts you receive will be powerful but fleeting. Moreover, you may get tired faster and feel more drained once the stimulating substance in question has worn off. Poor diet can have plenty of side effects on your productivity, from keeping you overly exhausted to triggering mood swings. So if you intend to wake up more energetic every morning, it’s high time to pay attention to your eating habits.
For starters, you don’t have to give up sugar and caffeine altogether, but if you consume them everyday, your body becomes dependent on them. Limiting yourself to one cup of tea or coffee in the morning would be just perfect. What you need to cut out first of all is junk and processed food. Try to replace burgers with lean proteins; you can actually learn to cook meat and fish and still make it taste great.
Next, you may need to add more fiber and complex carbs to your meals. Pay attention to whole grain foods, vegetables, nuts, and dried fruits. They are nutritious enough to keep you going for the whole day without being too heavy on your digestion. Again, you can choose the ones you like and barely have to sacrifice anything for a healthy diet.
Last, try to make your meals small and regular. Eating 4 to 5 times a day will protect you from spikes in your insulin level that can threaten your productivity. You should keep in mind that having just a few, overly heavy meals a day can put extra pressure on your digestive system and make you exhausted for an hour after you’ve eaten.
A lack of inspiring activities
Food and sleep are very basic sources of energy for the day. Now, if you know that you eat and rest just fine, think of what you have chosen to fill your free time with. What do you enjoy doing when you have finished with the duties and commitments of the day? If you don’t have something that you feel passionate about to look forward to, the pressure of everyday duties becomes unbearable. As a result, you naturally surrender to lethargy, procrastinating until the last minute before the deadline.
Doing what you love is the key to making every single day productive, and most of us definitely need more than simply coping with our job to feel good. If you plan on doing something pleasant every day, then you have more motivation to get your work tasks finished by a certain time and proceed to engage in your favorite hobbies. And if you do a bit of what you love regularly, you get that rewarding sense of fulfillment that encourages you to try new things and keep going.
It is quite easy to get bored with work, because even a job that may have looked super-exciting at first can become exhausting after you have been doing it everyday for several years. Burnout happens to practically everyone, and you don’t have to be ashamed about not liking your job as much as you once did. Just remember that a job is not the only thing you have in your life. Find your passion, or just diversify your days with exciting events. Then your brain will release more chemicals to keep you active for longer.
Rumination and anxiety mode
If you tend to worry about every little thing, you dramatically decrease your productivity. Anxious thoughts are an even more powerful distraction than social media because you cannot just turn them off. Living in the 21st century, we are more scared of potential threats and possible difficulties than ever. Simply imagining that you’re on the verge of getting fired causes your brain to treat a hypothetical situation as an actual and immediate one, stirring up fears of homelessness in the very minute you’re supposed to be getting something done.
Taking care of your mental health is as essential as eating or sleeping. If anxiety gets in your way more often than not, you may need to learn how to turn that alarm off. Your aim here is to learn to tell a useful concern from an unproductive one, to understand when a threat is real and when you are merely imagining it. So far, cognitive-behavioral therapy has proven to be the most effective treatment for people with all kinds of anxiety. You can start working with a therapist on dealing with this issue, and very soon you will be able to implement cognitive-behavioral practices by yourself.
Fear of taking the first step
If you work as a creative or academic writer, you will certainly be aware of writer’s block. It’s the thing that keeps you from completing your task when nothing seems to be wrong. Maybe you just can’t formulate a good idea or pick the right words to cover your topic. You may be staring at a blank page for hours, or doing every minor task possible to avoid knuckling down and getting the job done. Why does this happen to so many talented people working in creative fields? Because we are afraid to start.
In his motivational book “Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time,” Brian Tracy writes:
“The hardest part of any important task is getting started on it in the first place. Once you actually begin work on a valuable task, you seem to be naturally motivated to continue.”
Indeed, once you get started on writing your paper, you may complete it in just a few hours, but the preparation for that first step may take up nearly half of your day, which is a lot of valuable time being wasted. Looking back, you realize that if you had not been so hesitant to begin, you might have completed twice as much work in one day!
If you constantly find yourself afraid to take the first step, try setting a timer. Give yourself an hour to drink coffee and think the task over. What ideas would you like to put in it? Draw an approximate structure and try to stick to it. When the timer has rung over, just go ahead and start. Your paper will be good enough after you edit it.
Despite having all these productivity books and devices to help organize our work, most of us procrastinate on a daily basis. Sometimes you are exhausted, sometimes you are anxious, and sometimes you just need to try something new to add a splash of excitement to your life. There are many other reasons your productivity may be lagging, but what you can do is believe in your inner potential no matter what. You are smart enough to figure out what is stopping you from getting this job done, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if your problem does not resolve itself. By making only a little extra effort, you can become much more productive, both at work and in your personal life.