The Thief of Time: 10 Ways To Beat Procrastination

Here are tips on how you can better get a hold of your precious time.

English poet and dramatist Edward Young, in his long poem Night Thoughts, points to procrastination as the thief of time. Time is a valuable commodity and can well be a target for theft.  But who is the real culprit and what can we do to protect time?   

In a thief’s guild, there is always a leader, the mastermind of all criminal plans. And in order to stop a thief from continuing its rampage of stealing time, you must take down its leader.

In this case, the mastermind of procrastination would be no other than our own selves and our emotions.  Identifying and acknowledging this is the first step to taking down procrastination. 

You would need to know and recognize that your own emotions are the master thieves. Since these emotions belong to you, you will then realize that you have control over them, and in effect, over your minion, procrastination. 

You have to be the Mastermind behind the Mastermind, just like in Ocean’s Eleven. It’s all about becoming a better thief to steal back the time that was taken away from your possession.

Here are some tips on becoming the better Mastermind. 


1. Identify why

When procrastination strikes, you need to know the reason behind it.  It could be simply because your body needs to rest. Or maybe you’re going through very stressful times, making you lazy and put off doing things. Knowing why would give you an edge and allow you to solve whatever it is that’s holding you back, so you can move forward. It’s important that we always acknowledge the elephant in the room.

2. Plan ahead to avoid distractions

Distractions cause procrastination to set in, so you must have laser-like focus on the task at hand. In order to have this, the first thing you must do is to make a plan to accomplish the task. The next challenge would be to remain on that path. Any diversions that are not relevant to whatever it is you are trying to accomplish should always be set aside for later. 

In this day and age, technology has made it easy for procrastination to have a one over on you.  With social media and email notifications and other online distractions, you can easily fall into its trap. You can remedy this by turning off automatic notifications on your computer once work begins. Avoid opening too many programs and browsing tabs, and only have what is needed open and ready.  


3. Take action now, not later

This happens all the time and we do not really notice it because we are always trying to be perfect with everything.  We fear the mistakes that might happen. But if no action is taken, nothing will even come close to perfection.  While doing the task, try not to think of the mistakes that you might make.  

Always remember the adage “Practice makes perfect”.  This means that you have to keep on doing something repeatedly until it becomes a habit, and then second nature to you.


4. Break it down

There are times that tasks seem overwhelming and these huge tasks are the allies of procrastination.  And I’m sure procrastination always has a big laugh when you cower in fear of these tasks. Huge tasks may seem scary at first and make us lazy because they always look impossible to accomplish. 

The trick is break a large task down to smaller ones. Once you do this and work at chipping away at the block piece by piece, you are bound to accomplish and finish the task in no time. 


5. Clean up

Procrastination loves a messy workplace.  It is perfect for distractions and getting you off course.  You need to fight this by creating an environment conducive for work and setting the stage for your success.  Procrastination will run away from all of this and never return once you get in the habit of taking away clutter and allowing yourself to focus on whatever is in front of you.  


6. Celebrate the small victories

It’s not an easy task to beat procrastination.  So whenever you get to accomplish even the littlest of things, congratulate and reward yourself for the progress.  Do it in any way you can by maybe taking a quick break and celebrating the success of getting things done.  Pat yourself on the back for coming this far.


7. Be realistic

You will always set yourself up for failure when you decide on unattainable goals.  It is always nice to dream the impossible dream. But when you set out to accomplish something that is impossible, it only becomes more unreachable if you set a timeline that is not realistic. You will definitely fail and then fall victim again to procrastination. Look at a task and set realistic goals in order to accomplish them.


8. Psych yourself out: control your thoughts

It is a funny thing that when we focus on something be it negative or positive, we tend to gravitate towards that thought. So if we tell ourselves that we will not procrastinate, we most likely will. 

The best way to get out of this tricky situation is to always focus on the positive. Instead of thinking that we will not procrastinate, we should switch this type of thought into what we want to accomplish and how amazing it will feel after finishing it. Tell yourself “I will do this and I will accomplish this,” and you will.


9. Become results-oriented

Focus on results!  Every time you have a task in front of you, we usually think about how difficult the process will be. This kind of thinking actually stops us in our tracks.  By focusing on the end result and how great we would feel once we have completed the task, we move and inch our way to that success and that feeling of accomplishment. Keep your eye on the target.


10. Don’t beat yourself up

One thing that procrastination does is make you feel bad about yourself.  It puts you on a downward spiral and you end up procrastinating even more.  Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve found yourself procrastinating again. Acknowledge this and move past it.  Do not let procrastination win the psych warfare.  


These tips can help you win the battle against procrastination, and finally become the Mastermind of the Mastermind. 

Remember that procrastination is ruled by emotion. Once you are able to take charge of your own emotions and feelings, there will be nothing to guide procrastination towards your path. It will lose its grip on you, and you can free yourself from this habit, leaving time in your own possession and control. 

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