For Tomorrow

how to beat procrastination and get things done

Doctor appointment, weight loss, replying to an email, following up with someone, and so many other things can be done tomorrow as well. We can always start something from tomorrow. We can always push back the deadlines and still manage to live and be alive. But is this the way you’d like to live? This should be the question.

We all have at least one role model in our life. Do you see procrastination in that person? Does she leave everything for tomorrow and she is still your role model? If not, then you know that she is your role model because you love how she does things that you like and appreciate, On Time. The only reason that she is now your role model is her “Let’s Do it Now” attitude. You both love tennis. But she is your role model because she is actually doing it. You both love healthy lifestyle, and know how important it is. But she is your role model because she actually puts effort in doing it every day.

Procrastination is the only barrier between you and your best self.

It is not family. It is not opportunity. It is not money. It is not luck. It is commitment.

Procrastination can make someone who was supposed to be champion winner an ordinary person who has the champion winners’ posters on her room’s wall. She sometimes replaces their faces with her own. It gives her the sense of satisfaction with minimal work.

Well if you are tired of chasing others who are living your dreams, it is time to stop. Yes, I am not asking you to do anything, just stop. Stop for a moment and think. Do you really want to achieve what you are chasing in your role models? Is there anything in life that you want it so bad but never thought of giving it a try? Or you don’t feel like doing anything about it today because there is always a tomorrow coming that you hope you’ll have more energy to do it?

Stop and think again. You just need to decide one time. As soon as you decide, you have to respect yourself and keep yourself committed. The best time to do anything is Now. You can’t and won’t be a champion winner today, but take one step towards it now.

Now is the only time that can tell you if you are made to win or if you are made to lose. We all come to this world with the hope of making it a better place for everyone. But then over time we forget, we do things wrong, we form bad habits, and we get use to our low standards. But it is never too late to wake up and make the changes.

It takes time of course. First, it takes few weeks to get yourself to stick to your plans. And 3 months to improve the sense of commitment in yourself and one year to make sure you are the doer person. And 3 years to be a role model for others.

Days pass one by one. Why don’t we form them as we wish. This is a gift that is given to us. We are free to form it as we like. But how many of us use this opportunity and this gift? Let’s start now.

Decide to push procrastination away. This is only possible if you set rational deadlines. Give yourself incentive after meeting your deadlines. These little steps, this commitment and  energy is what will give you everything you wish to do and have in life. It is not easy. If it was then everyone was doing it right. It takes a bit of energy to start it. But it takes lots of commitment and guts to continue.

Can you say no to your best friend just because you are supposed to do something for yourself and that the deadline is approaching? Can you leave an amazing party early because you have deadlines to meet? Can you ask your children to wait because there are some things you have to do every day and you can’t skip even one day not doing it? It gets hard and harder. Your commitment to do your tasks will be put to the test. You will face situations that it is really hard to decide and almost motivates you to skip your deadline for something else. That is where most people leave the route to success. The route where it leads to championship. The route that leads to a better person, healthier life, fit body, peaceful mind or whatever that is the end goal for you.

If you think you can skip once and it should be ok, you are completely wrong. One takes you to two, and two to three and so on… And then it comes the time you have to restart and push yourself again and this time it gets even harder to start.

Procrastination comes from a Latin word. Pro means for, and cras means tomorrow. It is that simple. Don’t look at the complicated “procrastination” word. It is as simple as “for tomorrow”. Sometimes looking at the procrastination word gives you the credit to say it is too complicated to deal with it. It sounds like a strange disease that I don’t need to know about it. But it is a simple disease of leaving everything for tomorrow.

You can cure yourself  simply by just taking some steps today. Then build from that. Then make it harder for yourself. Have you ever gone to the gym? have you ever decided to grow your muscles bigger? The only way is to start light on weights and once it gets easy for you add to it. Again once it gets easy add more weigh. This is the only way you can make your muscles bigger and bigger.

Now with your commitment to do your tasks on time, to beat procrastination, and to achieve your goals and become successful, you have to start light and then add to it.

You can start by taking one step towards your goal today. Next week, each day you can take two steps. Then make it even harder. Make the phone calls you had to do months ago. Take tasks that are harder for you to do today but you have to do them. Life puts you to the test. You will end up in situations that you have to decide and choose between your commitments and family, friends, and helping others. Of course these are all great and amazing and you have to care about others too, but this should not give the excuse to leave your commitments. The stronger you become the harder life tests you.

And then a day comes that you see yourself winner of this battle. That is when you feel everything in life is manageable. That is when people that you had to say no to, now cheer for you and have you as their role model. That day is when you hold your head high and see yourself as a winner.

Here is a great study from my favorite writer and teacher Dan Ariely that I got to know through my husband. He is done a great experiment with his students that is worth to take a look and learn.

Dan had three classes. He was giving assignments to each class with different form of setting deadlines. First class he said they can set their own deadlines. And once they set it, they can’t change it. They have to be committed to those deadlines. Late papers would be penalized at the rate of one percent. Then Dan told the second class there will be no deadline at all. They can hand in the papers at the end of the semester if they wish. And for the third class he gave strict deadlines for each assignment. Papers had to be given on fourth, eights, and twelfth week.

Here was the result:

We found that the students in the class with the three firm deadlines got the best grades; the class in which I set no deadlines at all (except for the final deadline) had the worst grades; and the class in which Gaurav and his classmates were allowed to choose their own three deadlines (but with penalties for failing to meet them) finished in the middle, in terms of their grades for the three papers and their final grade. What do these results suggest? First, that students do procrastinate (big news); and second, that tightly restricting their freedom (equally spaced deadlines, imposed from above) is the best cure for procrastination. But the biggest revelation is that simply offering the students a tool by which they could precommit to deadlines helped them achieve better grades.Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

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