Putting things off can take a toll on your productivity and happiness, and procrastination is one of them. Sometimes it can be the result of a lack of motivation or just not knowing what to do next.
If you’re looking for simple yet effective ways to beat the procrastination bully in your life, you’ve come to the right place!
Tune in to this episode and find out why we’re procrastinating in the first place, four important tips to procrastinate less, and how to implement these tips into your daily life.
Connect with Dhiren:
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- 01:23 Where the word procrastination comes from and what it actually means
- 01:37 Why we as humans always put things off until tomorrow (or the very last minute)
- 01:59 Parkinson’s Law
- 02:50 The procrastinator’s dilemma
- 04:20 Our pursuit of perfectionism
- 05:24 The four best tips that I’ve come up with to beat procrastination
- 06:26 Tip #1 Set up deadlines, set up real deadlines
- 06:42 A bonus tip for tip #1 – Break things down into smaller steps
- 07:18 Tip #2 Simply get started
- 08:49 Tip #3 Setting up rewards because our mind loves getting dopamine hits
- 09:31 Charles Duhigg explains why setting up rewards is so crucial in The Power of Habit
- 10:03 Tip #4 Working in time slots has proven to be the most effective way to get work done
- 10:39 4 steps to effectively use the Pomodoro Technique.
Four Tips to Beat Procrastination :
- Set up deadlines. Use the Panic Monster character in your mind to create artificial but real deadlines. Bonus tip: Break down complex projects into simple yet actionable steps.
- Get started. No matter how complex the project might be, getting started is the best way to beat procrastination.
- Give yourself a reward. Set up rewards for yourself along the way as you complete these tasks.
- Work in time slots. Use tight but snappy time slots to get work done, such as the Pomodoro Technique.
Four Steps in Using the Pomodoro Technique :
- Decide what tasks you need to complete. Make sure these are very clear and actionable, actionable tasks, not something very vague and ambiguous.
- Set up a timer for 25 minutes using any phone or any Pomodoro app that you can find on your app stores.
- Actually work on that specific task for that timeframe until the bell rings.
- Take a short five-minute break at the end of that timer. Get up, drink a glass of water, maybe watch some TV, or check your mobile phone and then come back and repeat this Pomodoro step four times. At the end of the fourth time, make sure you take a longer 15 to 30-minute break and catch up with whatever you need to catch up.
“We as entrepreneurs and founders want everything to be perfect. We are big believers in the “measure twice cut once” and as a result, we end up delaying something that we’ve been wanting to do because we want it to be perfect.” – Dhiren Bhatia
“We think it’s motivation that causes action, which then gives you more motivation to work on that task. But actually, research has proven it’s action that causes motivation, which gives you more motivation to create action.” – Dhiren Bhatia
“So if you find yourself stuck and not motivated to do things, give yourself a reward. Give yourself something that you like. It could be as small as having your favourite cup of coffee if you finish this task, or maybe something as big as going on a trip if you finish a really big task, make sure that you have something to look forward to.” – Dhiren Bhatia
Hello elevated entrepreneurs a very big welcome to the second season of the Elevated Entrepreneur podcast. And to kick this episode off, I have one very important question to ask all of you.
Do you find yourself procrastinating? Do you find yourself doing the things that you shouldn’t be doing and putting the things that you should be doing on the back burner? That is exactly the problem I’ve had? And I’m looking to answer that question. In this episode, I want to talk to you about the two very important principles regarding procrastination.
And I’m going to share with you my four best tips on how to beat the procrastination bully. So if this is your jam, if this is the problem that you’re suffering from, or you know, anybody who’s suffering from procrastination, get them to listen to this episode, because they will thank you for ever. So grab your headphones, turn up the volume, and let’s cue the music.
Hey there, welcome to the Elevated Entrepreneur podcast. This podcast is designed specifically for entrepreneurs and founders to implement winning habits, mindset and systems, so they can elevate your entrepreneurship game and quit the hustle game. My name is Dhiren Bhatia. Let’s get started.
So really interesting that the word procrastinate comes from the Latin word procrastinate, sorry, what does procrastination actually mean? Well, literally, it means putting off things till tomorrow. So the big important question is, why do we, as founders and entrepreneurs, put things off until tomorrow?
And how is it that we find ourselves doing so many other things? By the time we get to the end of the day, we ask ourselves a question, what is it that we’ve really done today? And I MIT entrepreneurs have not one, not two, but three answers for that question, or at least I think their answers to this question.
The first one is thanks to a very famous British historian named Cyril Parkinson, Cyril Parkinson in the 1950s coined something that was very interesting to the conversation of procrastination. And that is called Parkinson’s Law. Basically, what Cyril found was that work expands to the time that is allocated to that work. So if we have something that we are working on, and we continue to work on it, we will continue to keep working on it till we exhaust the time that was allotted to that particular task.
And in the event that you did not allocate an end time, guess what happens? We continue to work on that same very task till no end. The second answer is what I call the procrastinators dilemma. And the procrastinators dilemma is actually explained by Tim urban in his very famous YouTube video, where he talks about the presence of three different characters in our minds. One is the Instant Gratification Monkey.
The second is the Panic Monster. And the third is a rational decision maker. We all have these three characters in our mind at all given times. And when we start to work on something that is really important when we start to work on something that the rational decision maker in our minds has decided to work on, guess who shows up, it is the Instant Gratification Monkey, that starts knocking on our attention, and starts to divert our attention to something else that gives us gratification at this very moment.
A really good example is that every time that I start to work on a very critical presentation, a phone call, or a WhatsApp message is going to happen. And the Instant Gratification Monkey in my mind is now pulling and pushing my attention to check out that WhatsApp message or that phone call and see what those two things have in store for me and feel that instant dopamine rush, because now, those are the things that are going to give me gratification in this very moment.
And the solution to this problem is through our friend, the Panic Monster, who we’re going to talk about in just a few more seconds. And that now brings me to the third and final answer to this burning question on this podcast episode. And that is our pursuit of perfectionism. We as entrepreneurs and founders want everything to be perfect.
We are big believers in the measure twice, but cut once. And as a result, we end up delaying something that we’ve been wanting to do, because we want it to be perfect. So for many entrepreneurs, it might be that podcast they want to start or the YouTube channel they’ve been wanting to start a case in point. I did not start this podcast because I procrastinated for two years.
As I was seeking professionalism. I wanted the podcast to be perfect, have the perfect intro have the perfect outro I wanted to have all of my episodes planned ahead of time. And guess what ended up happening? I did not get to start this podcast until March 2020 When COVID kicked me on my butt and I got into action. And now using action as a segue.
I want to talk to you about the four For best tips that I have come up with to beat procrastination. And the first step is actually going back to our friend, the Panic Monster. So we’ve talked about the Instant Gratification Monkey and the rational decision maker characters in our minds. But the third one, which is the Panic Monster, tends to show up when we have real looming deadlines to get to contend with.
When we have real looming deadlines, our mind kicks into high gear, typically one or two days, or maybe three or four days prior to that deadline. And we start working on that task, and we end up delivering our best work. In the absence of a deadline. However, a mind tends to procrastinate.
So if you’ve been wanting to start a podcast or a YouTube channel, and not have a deadline, your mind will continue to divert to things that are more real, more looming, and the ones that give you gratification today or tomorrow. So setup deadlines, set up real deadlines, which you will then hold yourself accountable to make that thing happen.
There’s one more thing that I need to add here, almost like a tip within a tip. And that is breaking things down into smaller steps. If we are talking about a task, such as starting a podcast or a YouTube channel, it can be quite a complex project to run with. But if we were to take that project, and break it down into real actionable steps, then our mind finds it much more easier to get that done.
For example, you might first want to start with buying your mic, naming your podcast, figuring out what you’re going to be talking about who you’re going to be talking to, if you give yourself these very clear milestones in your project, then you’re more likely to not procrastinate and actually get stuff done.
Which now brings me to my second best tip, and that is very simply getting started, no matter how complex the project, taking the first step, whether that’s putting everything down on paper, breaking the project down into simple easy steps, whatever that step may be getting started is going to give you a lot more success, because we tend to have a very misconstrued view on motivation and action.
We think it’s motivation that causes action, which then gives you more motivation to work on that task. But actually, research has proven it’s action that causes motivation, which gives you more motivation to create action. Let’s take the example of going to the gym to prove this point. Most mornings, I tend to have a big battle with my mind.
Every morning when I need to get to the gym, I tend to be lazy and procrastinating because I don’t want to get out of bed. I’m really cozy. And I can give myself 1000 reasons why I should continue to sleep in. However, getting out of bed and putting my gym clothes on which is taking action has now given me the motivation to get to the gym.
And so what I will do, when I find myself in those situations is close my eyes and push myself out of bed and go to the washroom to change. That’s all the action I need to take to give me the motivation, which will give me more motivation to get to the gym, and do the things that I need to do to make my life better.
The next step that I want to leave you with is setting up rewards, it’s really important that we create these artificial sets of rewards, because our mind loves getting dopamine hits. And when we reward ourselves with something after completing a task or mind remembers that dopamine rush, and it would like to see more of that.
So if you find yourself stuck, and not motivated to do things, give yourself a reward. Give yourself something that you like it could be as small as having your favorite cup of coffee, if you finish this task, or maybe something as big as going on a trip if you finish a really big task, make sure that you have something to look forward to.
In fact, this is beautifully explained by a very famous author named Charles Duhigg, in his book, The Power of Habit. And in this book, Charles explains that we as humans are creatures of habit, we tend to do a lot of things that are habitual, because we love to do things on autopilot. And we’re also reward oriented creatures.
So anything that we give ourselves as bounty for completion is going to help us stay focused and bring more motivation for that task. And my last but my most favorite tip is working in time slots, working in time slots has proven to be the most effective way to get work done. Remember at the beginning of this conversation, I told you that work expands to the time allocated to it.
So whatever work that we have, if we are to constrain it in very short but sharp time slots, we will be more productive and much more effective with our time. A good example of this is the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique basically is working in 25 minute time slots with a five or 10 minute break at the end of that slot. So here’s how you can use the Pomodoro Technique.
The first step is to decide what tasks you need to complete and make sure these are very clear and actionable tasks. Not some thing very vague and ambiguous. And a great way to check if your task is clear and actionable is to run a quick quantification check.
Can you actually quantify that task using some metrics, whether it’s percentage of completion number of things done, or finish something that you can actually measure, such as writing one chapter of this book or outlining one episode for this particular podcast. Those are great, quantifiable, and actionable tasks.
The second step is actually to set up a timer for 25 minutes, using any phone or any Pomodoro app that you can find on your app store’s. The third thing to do is to actually work on that pacific time specific task for that timeframe until the bell rings. And the fourth step is to take a short five minute break at the end of that timer.
Get up, drink a glass of water, maybe watch some TV, or check your phone, and then come back and repeat this Pomodoro step four times. At the end of the fourth time, make sure you take a longer 15 to 30 minute break and catch up with whatever you need to catch up. I’ve had some of my most effective and productive days because of this very technique, despite working for less than four hours in one single day. And that is how we beat procrastination out of the gate.
Four very effective ways to beat the procrastination bully in your life. So let’s recap those four tips. The first one is to set up deadlines. Use the Panic Monster character in your mind to create artificial, but real deadlines so that your mind can start to work towards those deadlines.
Sub tip within the first step is to remember to break down complex projects into simple but yet actionable steps. Tip number two is to get started no matter how complex the project might be getting started is the best way to beat procrastination. Tip number three is to give yourself a reward set up rewards for yourself along the way as you complete these tasks.
And the fourth tip is to work in time slots use tight, but snappy time slots to get work done, such as the Pomodoro Technique shared in this episode. I hope that you’ve enjoyed these four amazing tips. And I can’t wait for you to tell me which one was your favorite tip. If you’d like you can head on over to elevated entrepreneur.fm/speak and record a quick voice note and tell me your best tip. And tell me a tip that I did not mention in here that I can then add into the show notes for other listeners to pick up on as well. That’s it for this episode. Thank you and much love and I will see you in the next one.
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