Three crucial points that aid in understanding why we allow ourselves to procrastinate, what we need to do to avoid it, and the key to never procrastinating again.
Ahh — procrastination: when time is free and obligations are seemingly nil. We’ve all fallen victim to its siren-like serenades. The ‘this can definitely wait until tomorrow’ and the ‘I deserve another episode of Thrones’ is all too familiar. Avoiding the temptation of meme-scrolling or clicking “next episode” for the fourth time in a row are tough for the unmotivated. However, utilizing your power of choice in regards to how you spend your free time and practicing self-discipline will rid your life of procrastination — guaranteed.
As a collegiate student-athlete, I’ve always had a lot on my plate. There were times when procrastination in regards to school work and writing was seemingly inevitable due to exhaustion from a full day of lifting and a practice. Yet, I found a way to power through. What I learned from the merciless grind of the student-athlete life can be summed up into three crucial points that aid in understanding why we allow ourselves to procrastinate, what we need to do to avoid it, and the key to never procrastinating again.
Identify excuses — then stop making them.
Problem number one: we all make excuses. And if you read that and thought ‘not me!’ please, do yourself a favor continue reading. We all make excuses — admitting that is the first step toward ridding your life of procrastination.
Problem number two: we justify our excuses. The problem with justifying our excuses is that, most of the time, we don’t even realize we’re doing it. We come up with what seem to be legitimate reasons for delaying our obligations. We’re pretty creative, really, with our justifications. I remember once convincing myself there was no possible way I could finish my marketing campaigns project over the weekend because, “…if I don’t use the entire weekend to relax, I’ll be stressed during the week and fall behind.” How backwards is that?
Identifying and ridding your world of excuses is the first step toward self-discipline and ultimately avoiding procrastination. The sooner you can differentiate legitimate reasoning from petty excuse-making, the sooner you’ll be on your way to maximizing your potential.
Self-discipline comes down choices.
One of the most unappreciated privileges we posses is the privilege of choice. Every day you’re faced with hundreds of them: what time you wake up/go to bed, what you eat, how you think, how you act, etc. All too often we get sucked into the world of routine, convincing ourselves that we have no control over the outcome of our day; that our Monday is going to be just like our Tuesday, so-on and so-forth for the rest of the week until 5 o’clock on a Friday rolls around and suddenly we have freedom again. During the week, after all daily obligations are finished, we use our free time as personal time. What’s wrong with that you ask? Well, nothing… if you’re satisfied with your accomplishments (or lack thereof) for the day.
We convince ourselves that the little free time we get should be for relaxation — an escape from routine. This is where we procrastinate. This is where we make and continually justify excuses. We think that it’s OK to push off not-so time sensitive obligations and reward ourselves with Netflix, Twitter, Instagram.
This way of thinking needs to stop.
If you want to be successful in avoiding procrastination, you have to start utilizing your privilege of choice. You need to be disciplined enough to stop using free time as personal time. After all, what you do with your free time is completely up to you… it’s your choice.
I know how hard this can be. My senior year of college has been full of obligations: a full school schedule, 20+ hours of football per week (excluding games), meal prepping (I cook all my own meals), studying for the GRE, deciding whether or not to apply for jobs or apply for masters programs. I’m also involved in an advisory board for my university’s communications department; we’re in the middle of planning a big event for the beginning of November. At the end of a typical weekday I’m absolutely exhausted — as one would imagine. Yet, I still find time to practice writing.
You can wake up early, get a good breakfast and tackle your to-dos before daybreak or you can keep on sleeping.
You can eat shitty now and feel groggy later or you can fill your body with nutrients and feel energized to keep grinding.
You can follow the crowd to the bar on a Friday night or you can use those four hours to put your head down and grind.
Utilizing your privilege of choice by spending your free time completing projects, working on your side-hustle, perfecting your craft, will help you avoid procrastination all-together and ultimately bring success.
The key is motivation.
So, stop making excuses and use self-discipline to make the right choices regarding your free time. Sounds pretty easy, right?
The reason I’m able to stay awake and busy for 18+ hours per day is ultimately due to my motivation to be successful. I’m constantly driven to write better, read more, study harder, play faster.
Finding your motivation doesn’t happen over night. It took me almost four years to understand the role writing is set to play in my life. I had been blogging here and there but nothing serious. I got into interviewing musicians, photographers and other creatives for a bit and received some praise for my work, but nothing too rousing. It wasn’t until one of my answers on Quora received over 580K views in two weeks that lit a fire inside me. The feedback I received — both good and bad — was more stimulating than any drug, tenfold. I’ve been driven to write another article of that reach ever since. And when it happens, I’m going to quietly open my Mac and hustle my ass off until I double my views.
Before you can be self-disciplined, and before you can use the privilege of choice to hustle in your free time, you must find your motivation. Find what lights that fire inside you. It may take time, but make no mistake: when it hits, you’re going to feel it.
Consistently avoiding procrastination is no small task. Self-discipline takes relentless practice. And once you’ve found your motivation and start your hustle, that challenge of being self-discipline is put to the test. But, once you start to identify and stop excuse-making, find your motivation, and master self-disciplined, ‘procrastinate’ won’t even be in your vocabulary.