Chanakya Thoughts: Three ways to overcome procrastination

A lot of people are feeling guilty for not able to complete their work on time. And they feel that procrastination or postponing the work to be done, has become a habit.

I have been asked by many people this question, ‘How to avoid procrastination?’ And in this article would like to give you some practical Chanakya solutions to avoid procrastination and become more ‘proactive’

So, to begin with, there is a big difference between being a procrastinator and being lazy. A lazy person, by design, avoids the work. Lazy people do not feel guilty for not completing the work on time. But a person who is procrastinating work is ‘aware’ that the work has to be completed in time and feels bad that it is not happening.

So, the real problem of postponing a work is about ‘time management’ which after a point becomes a habit. And we are not able to break away from that habit.

What would Chanakya advise us, “Having found a matter for consideration, he should not allow time to pass” (1.15.45)

It is very important to know that time is the most important resource that we have in our hands. If we know how to use every minute of our day, we will be super productive.

It is one thing not to waste your time. But, it another thing to use all your time efficiently. How does one do that? Chanakya is advising us in the above sutra – First, find a matter for consideration and then do not allow time to pass.

So, let us decode this advice:

1. Find a matter for consideration

It is interesting to note that we do not ‘think’ properly before starting anything. Just because someone tells us to do something, does not mean we actually ‘have’ to do it. We can consider if we need to do it, or not do it.

There are three scenarios when new work comes to us. First, do it yourself. Second is to delegate this to someone else. And third is, not do it at all. You will have to consider all options before we actually take up the new work.

Imagine you have ten things to do in a day. And suddenly someone gives you new work. Now, the list had become eleven things to do. But what is more dangerous is that you will lose time thinking about the new work that you will not even do the previous ten things in hand.

And half of your day is gone wondering what to do. And at the end of the day, you would have completed just three things to do. Your guilt starts from there. Even if you want to do it, your mind is not available. So, what is the solution?

2. Do not allow time to pass

So, if a new work has come to you. First ‘think’ before you actually start the work. You can always do the new work later, or you can delegate it to someone else. Or simply refuse to take up the work. So, do not waste your time too much in analysing and wasting your mental energy. Just take a decision.

If you have considered to do it, then just begin. Remember, beginning the work is half the work done. After you have decided to do it, don’t look back. And once you start, things become easy and you will go by the flow. Remember, it is only a starting problem. Later you gather momentum and work just happens.

3. Make a list

If you want to get a lot of things done in a single day, always start by making a list. Look at the list again and again. At least five to ten times a day. When a task is finished, just strike it off. You will feel nice. If new work comes in, add it. Keep your enthusiasm high. Be like a live wire. Think, take a decision, start it, do it…And keep moving on.

The work itself with give you energy. Overthinking will drain your energies. So, one should know how much to think and how much not to think. Chanakya knew that work never gets completed. It just gets added. But you do your best and go to bed peacefully, to be ready with the new list for the next day.

(The writer is Founder Director of Chanakya Aanvikshiki Pvt Ltd, a best selling author and an expert on Chanakya’s teachings. He can be followed on his twitter @rchanakyapillai)

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