Overcoming procrastination with Brian Tracy, eat that frog!
Procrastination. We all suffer from it. Why do we do it? And how can we overcome procrastination?
In a previous blog on self improvement, you learned how to use goal setting to make your dreams come true. Have you started doing this or have you been putting it off? Why do we procrastinate at all? And how do you get rid of it? In this blog I will explain and teach you how to overcome procrastination so that you too can start chasing your dreams today!
What is procrastination?
Procrastination is literally putting off tasks that you would rather not do. Often these are also tasks that you know the procrastination won’t even do you any good. You’ve probably put off a school assignment or report at some point. Maybe you did this for a few days or at worst for weeks. This is typical study avoidance behavior that students often do. But what does this behavior get you? It probably caused you to suffer from time pressure or even stress. The things you did instead of getting busy seemed fun, but in the long run the result is actually always negative. You always got yourself into it! That’s why this type of procrastination behavior is also called irrational procrastination.
Procrastination behavior according to Tim Urban
Tim Urban is a well-known procrastination blogger. On his famous blog “Wait but why” he has been blogging for years about his own bad habit of putting things off nonstop. In his famous Ted Talk called “in the mind of a master procrastinator” he describes his procrastination behavior in an interesting and recognizable way.
In his explanation, he describes procrastination using 3 characters:
- Rational decision maker
This character equates to our ability to think in the long term. This is the person who takes schedules and deadlines into account.
- Instant Reward Monkey
This character equates to our desire for instant rewards. Doing things we enjoy makes us produce endorphins and dopamine. This naturally feels better than cleaning or working. This monkey hunts for that yummy feeling nonstop. This causes you to spend hours gaming or watching videos on youtube when you should really be doing other things.
- Panic Monster
This character comes to life when the monkey has had a good time and deadlines are getting close. There is time pressure and now you can get busy with the things you need to do. Suddenly you can get more work done in a few hours than you have done in the past few weeks.
In practice, during a project you often start as a rational decision-maker. You think about how you want to do it, you make a schedule, set deadlines and everything seems to go well. Until suddenly the reward monkey shows up. It overrules the rational decision-maker and ensures that you are busy with everything except your project. As a result, nothing happens for weeks until suddenly there is chaos and panic. That’s when the panic monster comes around the corner who chases the monkey away.
Why do we suffer from procrastination?
Why do we put things off? Where does this behavior come from? Why don’t you exercise? Why don’t you start a business? The cause of procrastination behavior can vary from person to person and from situation to situation. There is no one reason why you don’t do the things you should do. Common causes are:
- Taking on too much
- Lack of motivation
- Many distractions
You probably recognize yourself in some of these causes, or even in all of them. This is very normal. Everyone has suffered from this at one time or another. But what can you do about it?
Here are five tips that can help you:
- Too much hay for you
Divide the work into smaller tasks. This gives you a clear overview of what you need to do and the threshold is lower. Start immediately with the smallest task and finish it. This will ensure better motivation!
- Lack of motivation
This is often because you are thinking negative thoughts linked to the task. Thoughts like “I don’t feel like it” or “I don’t want to do this”. Replace these thoughts with positive ones. Think about how you feel when the task is done. Also think about the fact that you can then do whatever you want!
- Suffering from perfectionism
Convince yourself that not everything has to be perfect. This is not possible at all. Everyone makes mistakes, that’s allowed and you learn from it. This also applies to you!
- Often tired or not fit
Take better care of yourself. Eat healthy, keep moving and get a good night’s sleep. When you are fitter you will suffer less from health and have better concentration.
- Lots of distractions
Very simply, make sure they are not there. Put your phone away and close your email. Lock yourself up completely so no one can disturb you. This sounds very simple and it is, but too often we don’t do it!
You’ve already gotten some tips on how to combat procrastination. Now I’ll tell you how you can really start to overcome your procrastination! You can overcome your procrastination in several ways but it is always important that you have a clear plan. Applying a tip or listening to tips once in a while can work fine in the short term. However, this is not going to help in the long run. In the book “eat that frog” Brian Tracy describes how you can overcome procrastination. The idea behind the book is that when you eat a frog first thing in the morning you have probably already had the worst part of the day. Brian Tracey describes 3 steps in his book that you need to perform to overcome your procrastination:
Step 1: Bring your frogs into focus.
First, you need to clarify exactly what you want and what is your goal. How to do this you learned last week in the blog goal setting. When your goal is concrete you then write down all the steps you need to take. Both big and small steps. It doesn’t matter how small the step is everything is part of it! When you’re done with this you will have a huge laundry list of tasks that you need to get done. This may make it seem worse and more work than you first thought. Don’t panic! That’s what step 2 is for.
- A-items are the most important tasks, these are your frogs. These tasks produce the most results and have the worst consequences when you don’t do them. If you have several of these prioritize them as A-1, A-2, A-3 etc.
- B items are tasks that have minor consequences, these are your tadpoles. These tasks are what you should be doing. But the world won’t end if you put it off for a day. You don’t start these tasks until after all the A tasks are finished.
- C items are tasks that you would like to do but that have no consequences if you don’t do them. You can only start with these after all A and B tasks are done.
- D items are tasks that you can delegate to someone else. Anything you can delegate you should delegate. This gives you more time to finish your A tasks.
- E-items are activities that you eliminate. These are tasks that are not necessary and only take up time. The only way to control your own time is to stop doing things that are not necessary.
When you are done with this you will see that it is not so bad how many tasks you have to do. Not every task is a fat ugly frog. When labeling your tasks, try to keep the number of A items small. We recommend that you label no more than 3 tasks as an A item.
Step 2: Separate frogs from tadpoles.
After you have a list ready with all your tasks, it’s time to distinguish between them. What are the high value tasks and what are tasks that are basically useless and not necessary. Or your frogs and your tadpoles. So it’s important to look closely at your list and determine what is frog-worthy. For each task, determine how important it is and whether it will impact your goal. You can do this using the ABCDE method.
Step 3: Start with the most fat and ugly frog
This is the most important step. This is where you will take action! It’s important that you first create time for yourself to work on that frog. Generally, the morning is the most appropriate time for this. If you do this later in the day, there is a greater chance that you will still postpone the task. So start working on that frog right after your morning routine! Don’t have a morning routine yet? Then read here how to create your own killer morning!
Another important point is to always complete your tasks completely. Don’t start on your second frog or your tadpoles if the first one isn’t finished yet. It is very tempting to start on new tasks, especially when you are full of inspiration and ideas. However, this has many drawbacks, before you know it you’re working on ten different things again and you get nothing done.