Procrastination is nowadays a big issue for a lot of people. Postponing tasks, avoiding them is a common thing in our lives. Almost every one of us has experienced it before. Whenever there is a task which feels unpleasant for us or a task we don’t like or don’t enjoy doing at all, we tend to postpone it until we can’t avoid it anymore (for example due to deadline).
I also procrastinate time to time. Recently my procrastination became unbearable, so I’ve decided to do something about it. I’ve decided to read the book The End of Procrastination by Petr Ludwig. Unfortunately, the book hasn’t been translated to English yet (it’s in Czech language only), but I found it very inspiring, so I’ve decided to make the Hub about it.
First, let me give you a little bit of information about author.
About Petr Ludwig
Petr Ludwig is a Czech publicist and instructor. He gives lectures in a field of personal development and lately he focused mainly on the topic of procrastination. In 2013, his book The End of Procrastination was published. He is also a founder of GrowJOB institute, which provides lectures to individuals and firms (you can check website of this institute in English).
In his book, Petr Ludwig describes reasons of procrastinating and presents a few tools which can help you to overcome or lower your procrastination. Some of the tools presented in the book were invented by Petr Ludwig himself, some of them were took over by other authors and simplified in order to be more friendly to users. I will introduce you some of the tools described in the book (not all of them – it would take a lot of space to translate all of them). But first, let’s talk a bit about procrastination.
Author of the Book - Petr Ludwig
The term ‘procrastination’ comes from Latin (pro-crastinus means ‘belonging to tomorrow) and as I mentioned in top summary, it means postponing tasks and duties. Instead of completing difficult tasks we tend to do not-so-important things as: watching movies/series, cleaning, playing computer games, etc.
Petr Ludwig believes that procrastination, which became quite common nowadays, is caused by so-called decision-making paralysis – we have so many options, so many possibilities that sometimes we don’t know which possibility to choose. This decision-making paralysis can actually lead to procrastination.
In order to fight with procrastination we need to improve four specific areas of personal development: our motivation, action readiness, outputs and objectivity. In order to do so we can use few tools presented in the book.
I’m going to tell you a bit about each of those four areas and explain some of the tools.
Reason or reasons which lead us towards our goals or desires, and influence our behavior or the way we act, that is motivation. According to Petr Ludwig, there are three main types of motivation:
This kind of motivation is often used by employers – they can use bonuses and punishments to make their employees to do unpleasant tasks. External motivation can also be anything that makes us do something we don’t want to do (for example: with taking out a mortgage, people can’t change their job so easily or move away).
Inner motivation with goals
This motivation is short-term. After achieving desired goals and successes people are usually immensely happy, but this joy lasts only for short amount of time. After that people usually set another goal, another success they want to reach and their hunt starts again.
Inner motivation with process
There is the old saying: The journey is the goal. It summarizes this inner motivation. It is important to set a goal, but it should be more like vision, something long-term. This vision should contain life meaning, something we want to do in our life.
Aiming for our vision, achieving our goals, that all can make us happier. While achieving our goals, we can improve our skills. In the end it can lead us to mastery in our chosen way. Also doing what we want to do can lead us to the state called flow (flow comes wherever we see challenge and employ our strengths). Flow can absorb us. In this state we just want to do what we’re doing – there is no time for anything else, nothing is more important. It prevents procrastination. It helps us to grow.
But there is another important thing to remember. Moving towards our goal can put as into flow, it isn’t the only thing which can do that for us, though. The other thing which can do that for us is cooperation – activities which have meaning hidden inside them (for example: helping others, trying to achieve a goal together with another people). Cooperation or group visions are important at international and large companies – they need to motivate their employees in order to be the most effective.
So, which tool you can use in order to improve your own motivation? It is personal vision. I’m going to translate the manual for creating your own personal vision. It will be brief, though.
Before you start with vision-creating, you should go through several steppes which can actually make vision-creating easier. The steppes are following:
- Make your own personal SWOT analysis – write down your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
- Make a list of your greatest successes – it can give you positive reaction whenever you feel down or lack confidence
- Analyze activities you wish to do
These are main pre-steppes before creating your own vision. You should take your time while creating your personal vision.
Now, you have your personal vision. You know what you wish/want to do in your life but how can you force yourself to do so?
It is important to build up habits. Do you know the situation (it is quite common in the beginning of a new year) when you make a resolution – you start to exercise, stop smoking, change your life – and it will last, like, for one or two weeks? Petr Ludwig is convinced that this situation occurs because we set too difficult goals for ourselves.
He describes that it is necessary to set low goals first and then slowly raise our standards. For example: imagine you want to improve your physical condition with running. You should start with running about few hundred meters. You shouldn’t start with setting a goal – I will run five kilometers every day. Take it easy.
Of course, there are tools which can help you to build up your habits and strengthen your will. Let’s introduce them.
I’m not sure about translation in that case. But the important thing is that this tool can help us to build up our habit. How does it work?
A bossing-card is a table lined on a paper. You should have had one table prepared for each month. In this table you should write down habits you want to learn and minimal limit. For example: at running you can set minimal limit – to run one hundred meters every day.
Every day we should check whether we accomplished our set goals. If we did so, we can mark it with green point, if we didn’t than with red point. If there was anything else we didn’t manage to do, than we mark a whole day with red point. Of course, there are situation which we can manage to accomplish all of our goals in (illness, sudden difficulties, holiday, etc.) If it’s like that we can mark that with blue point.
We really should try our best to fill our bossing-card with green points. If there is too much red points in your bossing-card, you can always use restart (make a thick line in your bossing-card and start over). You shouldn’t start over more than once in a month.
This is another useful tool.
Write down your daily tasks on a piece of paper. Mark the most important tasks with red circles, less important with blue circles and the least important with green circles. Connect circles with cursors in a way you plan to complete them (you should start with the most difficult tasks – everything else will be then easier).
If you are able to reckon how long it will last to complete each of those tasks then add times to your tasks. Also, whenever you complete one of your tasks, cross it out.
Outputs can be materialistic or emotional. These outputs occur whenever we are doing what we want to do and experiencing flow. Simply said, outputs occur when we are satisfied.
But sometimes, even if we do what we want to do, we are simply not happy. A lot of sudden problems can emerge and we can easily fall down into depression. When we sink into depression, we’ll feel negative emotions and thus we’ll likely procrastinate. In order to avoid sinking into depression and negativity, we can use some tools. For example:
- Inner game – when a situation occurs, we can freely decide how we are going to react to this situation; so if something negative happens, decide in your head that you switch your automatic negative reaction to a neutral or positive one
- Coping with our failures – try to perceive every failure as something what was needed in order to teach you something important
- Overcome strokes of fate – this one is always difficult; what is important in these cases it is always get up and move on
To be objective is really essential. You need to be like it in order to judge correctly your own strengths and weaknesses. Only if you do it, you can make a proper use of them. So how can you improve your objectivity?
- Lifelong learning – if you improve your skills and abilities in a chosen area, you can judge rightly how incompetent you had been before
- Search for high quality information
- Don’t express your opinion in topics you don’t know anything about
- Look for external feedback
- Improve your critical thinking
- Listen to other people’s arguments
Quote to Remember
So, this was just a short and brief summary of ideas written in Petr Ludwig’s book The End of Procrastination. There are more tools, I haven’t written about and all of them are more detailed described. All of them also have amount of improvements, so they are more effective in that way. I just wanted to give you these advices so you can start to fight with your own procrastination using this basic set of tools.
I will consider writing more detailed hubs about all of Petr Ludwig’s tools. I didn’t want to make this hub to be immensely long.
Anyway, I believe that the tools mentioned above are worth trying. So far, a bossing-card has worked for me pretty nicely. Try it as well.