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A Unique Type of Procrastination: Getting Carried Away in Work

Today, I’m going to show you an idea to help you stop getting carried away in almost any task. Wait, what? That’s right: stop reading that book, stop writing that essay, and stop doing your homework!

A workaholic staying in the office late after working hours
Don’t burn yourself out and respect your mental health.

Whilst attempting to end your procrastination, you might have stumbled upon the concept of “momentum”. In essence, this is what causes you to get carried away in work (in “the flow”).

In short, regular procrastination is due to the initial resistance of starting whatever task it is. However, once you do overcome that initial barrier, it becomes easier to continue working.

As indicated by homeostasis, humans—for the most part, at least—resist change. Learn more…

Of course, how long you can then hang onto a task depends on how often you practise doing unfavourable things; push yourself to do homework more frequently, and you slowly begin to accept it.

You may have overcome the initial procrastination, but what about the procrastination of stopping? That is to say, getting carried away so much that you resist stopping the task.

Also, note how this is a different way of looking at procrastination: when you just can’t stop getting carried away with something that will sabotage you. On the contrary, it’s typically seen as when you just can’t start an (intimidating) task.

I prefer the former since it is applicable to a wider range of scenarios.

Related read: How to Stop Wasting Time Online: My Proven 5 Step Strategy

It’s Not Just Work—You Can Get Carried Away with Your Hobbies, Too

Even though it can be easy for some to get carried away with work-related tasks, not everyone can relate. For this reason, I don’t want to paint the wrong picture:

You can equally get carried away with unimportant, non-work-related activities such as your hobbies.

Programming, for example, is a super-engaging activity that I can easily get sucked into. Consequently, time flies before your eyes and you don’t know where it went. But you don’t want to stop.

To clarify, it’s those things that make you forget to eat, drink, and perform various other bodily functions; these things make you not want to finish what you are doing.

What’s more, regardless of who you are, there are moments when you probably need to stop doing something. Next, I’ll show you why.

Demonic children wasting their time who can't stop getting carried away with playing video games

How Do You Know When to Stop?

At this point, you might be wondering why it’s bad to unable to disengage from work. (That is in addition to other, less important—yet time-robbing—activities.)

So, when should you cease your revision session? After all, there’s no point knowing how to stop getting carried away if you don’t know when to do it! Here are my suggestions:

Firstly, it wastes time by increasing your inefficiency. For instance, if you spend too long taking breaks between work, you’re going to have a mightily long working day; sticking to your schedule is important.

Secondly, getting carried away with something can intrude on your sleep, which is so important. For this reason, I’ve written an article all about preventing sleep procrastination specifically.

Lastly, failing to move on when you could be doing something more meaningful undermines priority. Often, it is necessary to stop getting carried away in order to complete a task of higher priority. On the other hand, you could spend too much time on tasks you’ve prioritised.

Related tips: How to Kill Your Stubborn Sleep Procrastination Depression

When You Can Use a Schedule, Everything is Simpler

Furthermore, when you stick to a schedule, you know exactly when to stop doing what. So, you can deliberately integrate all necessary and important tasks into the day—leaving as little to chance as possible. Here are possible triggers to stop:

  • At the end of a Pomodoro
  • At a specific time of day
  • After/before a meal
  • Upon completion of a pre-determined quantity of work (e.g. 500 words, 2 topics, etc)

So, Why Is it So Hard to Disengage and Delay?

In spite of clear plans, it might still be hard to delay a task for later. To exemplify, my hobbies can be sufficiently fun that I lose track of time. Equally, I can easily get carried away with a problem I’m facing—be it whilst programming, or with this website etc.

With this in mind, what is the cause of this procrastination?

In truth, I couldn’t say for sure, but I could definitely guess based on my personal experience.

False Importance

Firstly, we perceive the task to be of importance. Accordingly, sometimes you must ask yourself how much of a real difference your activity is going to make.

In fact, an “important” task on your to-do list could probably be safely delayed for a month, say, without any real impact. Although, this is seldom how you think when you actually begin the task: as soon as you’ve started, you feel obliged to finish it—and that’s terrible.

False Urgency

Secondly, we perceive the task to be urgent. While it does have a deadline attached to it, that doesn’t mean you have to finish it right here and now!

On the other hand, something without a deadline could still be perceived as tremendously urgent. Nevertheless, I’m sure that setting up your new computer can be delayed for a few more years…

Use your computer wisely: Ultimate Checklist for the Best Initial Windows 10 Setup

Enjoyment Carries You Away

Thirdly, we like what we are doing, so, in some ways, we might intentionally ignore the time. Therefore, it is necessary to learn the art of delaying further gratification for later.

It’s Difficult to Break Up Your Task

Broken glass fragments: break up your task to stop procrastinating on finishing it.

Lastly, we might be overwhelmed with the task so much that it’s less simple to delay and pick it up later. To exemplify, when programming, I might have about several hundred tabs open in my browser. In addition, I am working on multiple code files and I’m in the middle of doing something.

I could simply shut down my computer, though, my mind will constantly be buzzing with all that I need to do. Moreover, I’m likely to forget what I needed to do immediately after as well as those 367 URLs.

What Stops You From Getting Carried Away in a Task?

Next up is how to fix your disengagement procrastination.

To begin with, you’re not going to stop what you’re doing without a good reason to do so. Accordingly, awaken yourself to the greater motive. In other words, remind yourself of the reason why you must stop doing something right now.

Think about the other important tasks on your to-do list, leaving plenty of time to relax, and your mental health.

Perhaps you need to get to sleep, and not stopping now results in sleep deprivation hence a lack of productivity. In this case, you can use my “pink sheet method”.

Afterwards, you’ll want a way to easily pause and subsequently resume your sessions. So, I suggest creating some form of to-do list to make it crystal-clear what you need to do when you pick the task back up. Also, this could be a to-do list, Kanban board, or even a sticky note—given that it’s specific to the activity.

In order to reduce friction, there must be an effortless way to wrap up your session. Offering simplicity and organisation, Infinite Tabs Manager allows you to collapse and store all selected tabs.

Then, at a later date, you can easily pick up your session by re-opening them. (Make sure to note that you’ve collapsed the tabs in your task’s to-do list, though.)

Plan your week effectively: How to Be Productive with This Powerful Tool—Guaranteed

It’s Probably Not as Important (nor Urgent) As You Think

When you’re in the moment, sometimes you can fall into the trap of losing a sense of priority. In other words, you become deluded—thinking that the current task is more important or urgent than it really is. Consequently, resistance builds, and there’s no disengaging now.

A lot of the time, you could snap back to reality as a result of asking yourself a few questions. For example:

  • Dealing with imaginary urgency: What’s the worst thing that could happen if I delay this task for another day/week?
  • Dealing with imaginary importance: What real difference will completion of this task make to my life?

In fact, if you really boil things down to the roots, you might end up with this conclusion:

Life is pointless; hence everything is frivolous, and I have no purpose—why be here on Earth?

Therefore, one could conclude that there is no task that is genuinely important nor urgent. So, don’t treat a task as such.

Rather, focus on the prioritisation of tasks in order to achieve your goal as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Wall clock: You can always pick a task up later and prioritise other things.

The Essential Truth: You Can Pick It Up Later

As you might have already realised, the secret to not getting carried away in a frivolous task is to accept that you can pick it up later. That’s correct—there may be absolutely no need for you to be doing what you are doing right now!

To demonstrate, sometimes I have been distracted by work directly after eating dinner. However, I am really supposed to commence my teeth-brushing routine immediately.

Because I am generally organised, I have quite a bit of freedom with regards to my time—nothing is urgent. Accordingly, there is no task that truly takes priority over my existing planned activities at 18:37 on a Friday.

And the same applies to you.

Is it worth making so many sacrifices to do that specific task right here, right now?

Evidently not, since what you could have done today can be done tomorrow. As a matter of fact, this is a controlled form of procrastinating for the sake of the greater good.

Delay your tasks when not doing so is self-sabotage; procrastinate on the unnecessary excess, in other words.

As a result, you’ll find immense happiness and satisfaction.

Be Prepared to Deal with Temptation During Task-Deprivation

After a while, though, you might find that you’ve been delaying a task for so long—and the temptation to complete it is real. In which case, you’ll need to either:

  • Remind yourself of the importance (or lack thereof) of the task
  • Remember the necessity of delaying in order to avoid being carried away
  • Re-assess your productivity system to ensure you can “legally” have time for that task

Strengthen your mind: 9 Self-Control and Discipline Strategies: Break Free Now!

Conclusion: You Can Pick It Up Later

I’m sure that getting carried away in our work is a problem for a lot of people. And even if that’s not the case, frivolous activities are equally—if not, more—easy to be carried away with.

This is because we incorrectly overvalue certain tasks during the moment. Instead, you must enforce the objective point of view and see things for how they accurately are.

Furthermore, I think the most powerful cause of procrastination of finishing is the fear of not completing the task.

As a result of reading this article, I hope you have an increased awareness of how to stop being carried away with tasks that will sabotage you.

Remember: you can always pick the task up later—it will never go away.

So, delay the gratification of completing the task; procrastinate when necessary.

Plan Your Week with KanbanFlow
Boil things down to the essential tasks.

Also, a good book to read if you are struggling with juggling too many overweighed tasks—it will teach you to focus solely on that which matters:

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Then, before you go, tell me this:

Which activities do you frequently get carried away with? And, if applicable, how do you stop getting carried away with them?

* * *

Questions? Thoughts? Suggestions? Please leave your ideas in the comments below!

Thank you for learning at Cryptic Butter!

How to Stop Getting Carried Away in a Task and Delay It
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How to Stop Getting Carried Away in a Task and Delay It
When you’re in the flow of a task, it can be difficult to break out. So, how do you stop getting carried away, disengage, and stick to schedule? Read on: Learn to immediately delay and pick a task up later with ease.
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Cryptic Butter
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Posted by Luis Thiam-Nye

If you want to learn how to use technology to increase your productivity, you should visit Cryptic Butter! I also have a GitHub project.

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