How to Overcome the 4 Siren’s Songs of Procrastination

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How to Overcome the 4 Siren’s Songs of Procrastination


Don’t feel bad – we all procrastinate to some degree. But what does procrastination have to do with Sirens? Well, after the Trojan War, the Greek hero Odysseus was said to be on a journey home across the Mediterranean to the island of Ithaca. He had to navigate past the dangerous Sirens, who were known to lure sailors into the dangerous ocean waters with their hypnotizing songs. On the advice of a good sorceress, Circe, he ordered his crew to help him trick the Sirens. He told them to tie him to the mast and plug their ears with wax so they couldn’t hear the Siren’s song. The trick worked, and Odysseus and his crew safely made it past the frustrated Sirens and reached their home port.
Our number one productivity killer is procrastination. We all fall prey to it at one point or another. The Siren’s songs of procrastination are sweet and tempting, and they make us feel good in the moment. However, we quickly regret following their tunes as they make us feel guilty and keep us from achieving our goals.
Lazy dog procrastination

There are 4 main Siren’s Songs that make us procrastinate:

1. Social Media

Of course! The lure of knowing what’s going on around us, and the fear of missing some online news is strong. A survey by DeskTime has shown that on average, 12% of our working day is spent on Social Media. YouTube is the biggest lure with 85%, closely followed by Facebook at 78%. Statista did a global survey in 2023 which shows that our average Social Media usage has grown to 151 minutes per day – that’s 2.5 hours! In short, endless scrolling is getting in the way of beating procrastination.

2. Minor Chores.

Because there is a reason we try to avoid a task, minor chores at work or around the house suddenly become a lot more important. Can you hear this Siren’s Song growing louder? This is a mind trick that makes us justify our decision to abandon the work that we really need to do and put it off as long as possible.

3. Snacks.

This Siren’s Song is particularly tempting and effective. Our body gangs up on us to interfere with completing a certain task. We get hungry or thirsty which tells us we can’t sit down and do the work yet, there’s a stronger physical need that has to be satisfied first… at least that’s what out mind tells us

4. Napping.

Oh how comfortable it is in LaLa Land! We become tired, and our body tells us we need a nap. We think that after this nap we feel refreshed to start the task. Sounds like a plan, right? However, this is a typical Siren’s Song – it is another lure to keep us from doing the work we want or need to do! Next time, when you’re about to start a task and you suddenly feel tired, note that this is typical and you should find a way to beat procrastination from this Siren’s Song.

Tiles you said tomorrow yesterday

But why do these temptations to procrastinate work so well?

We are caught in an endless hamster wheel (the procrastination cycle) of manipulating our minds to feel good about putting off the task. This is how it works:
Overview procrastination cycle
Siren’s Songs are distractions from a task that you need or want to complete. To overcome procrastination, it is important to understand WHY you procrastinate. It could be that the task is too hard, perhaps it’s too complex and you feel overwhelmed, or maybe there is a fear of failure. If you can address the reasons for your (conscious or unconscious) reluctance to start on the task, it becomes naturally easier to get it done eventually.

3 tips on how to get out of the cycle and overcome procrastination once and for all:

  1. Become aware: Ask yourself today, what really holds me back from doing this task or going after my goal beyond the Siren’s Songs? Is your mindset a strong growth mindset
  2. Start small. If you can even take the tiniest step towards completing the task. For example block time, make an appointment, or talk it over with a friend or colleague. This will trigger your reward hormone, Dopamine, and you will feel a boost of motivation and confidence to take the next step.
  3. Find an accountability partner. An accountability partner is a close colleague, friend, or family member that you tell about your task, plan or goal. Ask them to check in with you about your progress, and celebrate milestones with them. Being accountable to somebody else triggers our natural inner desire to make other people proud of us, and not to let them down.
We hope this gives you some insight in WHAT makes you procrastinate, and HOW to overcome procrastination. The big question is the WHY. Try and find out what your main reason is for procrastinating, and make some changes from there.

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