What’s an efficient way to overcome procrastination?

Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” — M. Scott Peck

If you can answer at any given time, to any given person, without hesitation, the question,”What’s your purpose in life?” you can go ahead and skip this article. If not, I urge you to read it closely. Your purpose must be the driving force behind improving your time management. Without a reason to do so, working on your time-management skills will not bring meaningful results.

Tips and techniques are great tools to have, but all the knowledge in the world will do you no good if you won’t implement it. You need a purpose to do anything in life, managing your time included. That reason must be big enough to overcome the inertia, bigger than the multitude of reasons to take a break, to let go.

The time management process starts in your head. Your mind is the only true source of your procrastination. But, it’s also the only true source of your productivity. The cynic or hardcore realist might find it hard to believe, but it is the truth. Nothing exists without first being created, and in your life, that creation begins in your mind.

Here is how the motivation story played out for me: I read Getting Things Done by David Allen in November 2011. Allen’s book contains the most brilliant time management system I have ever seen. Everything is explained very clearly and arranged methodically. The system’s simplicity and reported effectiveness led me to try it.

So, I tried and tried and tried …

Trying was all I could achieve without the internal motivation. Don’t get me wrong, every tip and technique, if used correctly, is fruitful. Even just trying Mr. Allen’s methodshaphazardly helped me manage my time better. But, by developing the motivation tostand firmly behind each technique, I began to see results that were greater by orders of magnitude!

Just think of someone doing his job because he is truly passionate about that work. Perhaps you have a coworker or friend who has that zeal for their work. Then think of someone who works just to get by. They may even do all of the same actions, after all it is the same job. But, the results they achieve and the amount of effort they both put in to achieve those results, are very different. Find just two examples from your experience and contemplate the differences.

In August 2012, I read another book that enabled me to manage my time even better thanGetting Things Done. It wasn’t a time management book at all; it was a personal development book titled The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. This book drove me to seek meaningful change in my life. The self-improvement I worked on as a result, led to the development of an impassioned motivation, different from anything I had ever felt before. This new vigor gave me the ability to extract far more value from my time than ever before.

That’s why I encourage you to search for your reasons first and, only then, apply these new time management techniques.

Why do you want to save time? Why do you want to be more effective? Why do you want to improve your productivity? What is the purpose behind those desires?

Forget wishes — they won’t sustain you long enough to implement the techniques and build a new lifestyle.

Find your purpose

Stephen R. Covey became a household name and multi-millionaire through the pursuit of his passion for helping others grow. He began his greatest work — The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the bible of effectiveness — with a search for self-awareness and personal values. The secret is more spiritual than technical, isn’t it?

I complied with his advice and doing so enhanced my effectiveness significantly. One of the first steps I took in transforming my life was to formulate my personal mission statement. It took me over a month of writing and rewriting, but it was worth every second. I advise you to do the very same thing.

Think of it as your greatest investment in your time management program, quite possibly your life. Your personal mission statement is THE key to improving your time management a thousand-fold. Why waste your time on minor tasks when you can invest a few weeks to skyrocket your awareness and motivation?

Lasting change must start from the level of principles and values. With this approach, you can do the (seemingly) impossible. This is how I’ve developed lasting and productive habits.

As of right now (October 2016), I track about 30 habits on Coach.me. In 2012, I tracked just two. And I have a few more which have become so automatic that I don’t need to track them anymore. Additionally, I have a few weekly and monthly habits that are also new. Overall, I’ve developed about 40 new habits in 2013.

Now, to the point: In 10 minutes on Google, I found countless links to pages with advice on creating or changing habits. All of them are compatible: start easy, start slowly; don’t try to revolutionize your life.

http://www.self-improvement-mentor.com: “Changing a habit is one of the most difficult tasks that a person can undertake.”
PsyBlog: “The classic mistake people make (…) is to bite off more than they can chew.”
Leo Babauta: “(…) too many changes at once. I’ve seen that fail many times. (…) One habit change at a time. Some people can do two (…) and actually stick to it, but that’s much more difficult. Once you get good at that, maybe you can do two at a time.”

By “at a time,” Mr. Babauta means 4–6 weeks of implementation. If diligent, it is possible to create 13 new, lasting habits in one year.

I didn’t know that advice going in, so I did it my way and implemented over three times as many habits. And I got rid of several that consumed far too much time, like playing computer games or watching TV.

In case you didn’t notice, 24 hours do not seem like enough to do all of my daily habits and have a life. But I still manage to do it, something I attribute solely to the power contained in my personal mission statement, my internal drive.

Science

There are three elements of behavioral change in BJ Fogg’s Behavior Model: Motivation, Ability and Trigger. According to the model, motivation and ability are interchangeable. So, if you have low motivation but high ability, you can still succeed with your change. And vice versa — if you don’t know how to introduce a change, but your motivation is high, you will find a way to succeed.

Finally, I had found something to explain my success: I have enormously high motivation (found through developing my mission statement). My abilities probably pale in comparison to the abilities of many people out there, and yet I have become more effective and successful than ever before!

If you don’t buy the ‘feelings approach,’ then refer to the science. Do you want to manage your time efficiently, but don’t know how? Then your Ability factor, in this area, is low and you need … that’s right, a high motivation. Again, this is where a personal mission statement can clarify what things drive you and help you to develop a new sense of motivation.

Define your life’s purpose and your path to success will become evident. I’ve done many different things, for many different reasons, but I found there is no motivation like that which came with the realization of my life’s purpose.

If you haven’t already, I strongly recommend that you read the first two chapters of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and write your personal mission statement. If you want to save some money, you can buy my book “A Personal Mission Statement: Your Roadmap to Happiness” and learn how to compose one. Or, if you have a lot of time for research, you can figure out it on your own; browse the Web and you will find volumes of advice about the process.

The action-oriented may see this step as a waste of time, but I assure you that action without contemplation is the true waste of time. Why? Because only sustained action brings lasting results. Without a purpose, sooner or later you will give up, even if you are — like me — extremely stubborn.

An example: I have been doing push-ups every day for half my life. Before I found a good enough reason, I started and abandoned this habit more times than I like to count. It took me about a decade to figure it out. My stubbornness was enough to keep me going for a year or two at a time, but it’s the internal sense of purpose that has kept me going consistently for the last six years.

Your mindset is the foundation of your ‘personal house.’ Walls and a roof without a foundation is no more than a tent, and a tent probably won’t withstand heavy rain or high winds.

Action Items

- Create your own personal mission statement or use any alternative method which will help you to answer the question, “What is your purpose in life?”

- If you are an action-oriented, down-to-earth type of person, study BJ Fogg’s Behavior Model first.