One simple trick to solve procrastination

Have you ever spent hours, days, weeks actively pursuing activities that make you happy at the moment, but leave you feeling miserable with nothing to show for the time spent in the end?

If that’s the case, you are most likely struggling with crippling procrastination, and you may find this article useful.

The trick I’m about to teach you worked for me, but it’s not guaranteed that it will work for you too. I’ve experienced many failures before discovering this simple technique that helped me retrain my brain and restore my joy, sense of purpose, and appreciation of the simple things in life.

If you don’t want to read the whole thing, the trick is simple.

Embrace delayed rewards by pushing the activity that you use to procrastinate to the end of your day.

Understanding procrastination

The first step to solving procrastination is to understand it. Looking at the definition of the word, it’s as simple as choosing to do something instead of what you are “supposed” to do.

Often, the reason people procrastinate is that they don’t find the activities they are supposed to do, rewarding.

The biggest challenge today is dopamine-induced laziness.

Everybody is fighting for our attention, promising solutions to our problems, or unadulterated entertainment.

Just like my title made you click to read this article, so video game developers, YouTube creators, journalists, and countless others compete with each other to become the recipient of your attention.

The only way they can become and remain successful is if their content is addictive. If your pleasure centers are stimulated, and dopamine is released in your system as a result of you watching a video, there is potential to get you hooked. The risk becomes greater if you are a person that is generally not aware of the effects dopamine has on the human nervous system.

Most of us use social media, video games, movies, TV, and other forms of entertainment to escape the reality of having to do boring things.

Habitual Procrastination

While it’s not a problem to watch one movie or play a video game for one hour here and there, these dopamine-inducing activities have the potential to become addictive.

Once the habit is formed, it is extremely difficult to go back to regular life.

“Watching videos is amazing because I learn new things” — you tell yourself in an effort to justify spending the past 5 hours on YouTube.

“I have nothing better to do” is another way people kill their creativity.

“This is fun, I’m having fun.” is the instant reward for future suffering.

Creating a habit out of procrastination is the only reason the word procrastination exists. Everyone rests and enjoys activities that are not directly related to their success in society.

Only when procrastination is on “autopilot” can it be called procrastination.

Breaking this state of automatically wasting your time is not easy, and you’ve already taken the first step to actually doing something about it. By reading this article you clearly demonstrate your desire to be free from your own procrastination habits.

And it is possible.

It’s not easy.

But it is possible.

Are you up for the challenge?

Breaking the cycle

If you are prone to wasting a lot of time on social media, make a commitment to push this activity to the end of the day.

I used to procrastinate with video games and YouTube videos. After I pushed these two activities to happen past 8 pm, my life has gotten significantly better.

This requires self-discipline, but it’s worth it. You get to do everything you ever wanted, and more. It also trains your self-discipline and that begins to affect other areas in your life.

Dopamine takes up to 8 weeks to reach equilibrium in the human brain and you need a “survival” strategy for this time. You will most likely fail often in the beginning, but as long as you keep coming back to break the cycle, you will succeed in the end.

Imagine a life where doing truly rewarding activities is not a dreadful experience. Where spending 4 hours studying, reading a book, writing, working, or other productive activities no longer feels like a punishment.

The secret is in delayed gratification.

If you can embrace the future rewards of your actions today, your life will gain more meaning and become more pleasurable as a result.

Instant gratification is the root cause of procrastination in today's world.

I’ve been practicing instant gratification for 20+ years and managed to break the cycle with this simple habit-forming trick.

By making the decision to only partake in dopamine-inducing activities past a certain point in time was the best decision I’ve ever made.

For me, this is 8 pm. Most often if I manage to get to 8 pm without watching a video or playing a video game, I’m able to avoid doing it for the rest of the night. I’m writing this article at 11 pm after a day spent reading a book.

I never thought it could be possible to feel motivated to do this until I got to experience it.

Not a “cure-all” solution

Try this strategy as a procrastination-breaker.

It may take some time for it to properly work, because you are retraining your brain to pursue long-term rewards, instead of short-term rewards.

Initially, life will feel boring.

However, as time passes your dopamine levels will reach equilibrium.

You will begin to find joy in the simple things in life, such as cleaning your environment, going out for a walk, making progress on your to-do list.

It takes time for a change, and the sooner you accept that procrastination is hurting your prospects of having an amazingly awesome life, the better.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article. Let me know if you would like me to elaborate on any topic related to productivity or procrastination.

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

This article is a collection of my own personal experiences with procrastination, past research, and results I’ve gotten by implementing this simple strategy. Bits of data presented in this article are guesstimates, so make sure to do your own research.

Wish you a productive life,
Zoran S.

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Zoran Spirkovski

Zoran Spirkovski

Zoran publishes a blog post on Medium every day. He writes about whatever is relevant in his mind on the day he writes. Follow to get updates.