“Procrastination – Worst enemy of effectiveness.”
So, here you are again. You’re reading up on ways to stop procrastinating instead of actually working toward your goals. Far too often, it’s easy to find ourselves putting off an important task – even when we know we shouldn’t.
How many times have you found yourself browsing Facebook when you should be working? Going to the fridge for the fourth time to look for a snack that you already ate? Browsing videos on Reddit? Texting your BFF about something that can wait until later?
Procrastination isn’t just about work, though. It can also affect other important parts of your life. You might be avoiding going to the dentist, delaying an important conversation, or simply waiting for a while before making a life-altering decision.
Sometimes it can feel like it’s not that big of a deal to procrastinate a little while longer. In the end, though, we end up being harsh with ourselves because deadlines have approached, time has run out, and we’ve missed out on what could have been great opportunities, simply because we didn’t take the time to do something when it needed to be done.
Fortunately, there are strategies that can help people – like you – focus on what matters and resist your impulses to do other things when you should be concentrating on something important. Let’s dive right in and talk about them.
Step 1: Making the Realization that You’re Procrastinating
It’s important to realize when you’re procrastinating versus when you’re actually just re-prioritizing a work load. If you’re delaying one task because another important one came up, then you aren’t really procrastinating. However, if you are putting things off indefinitely or switching focus because you’re avoiding something, then you might be. Look at these warning signs:
- Filling your day with low-priority tasks
- Having an item on your to-do list for a lengthy amount of time (especially if it’s important)
- Reading through your emails over and over without making any decisions about them
- Starting a task – and then stopping because you need a snack, or coffee, or a walk
- Spending your time on unimportant things like Facebook memes or Reddit videos, YouTube, etc.
- Waiting until you’re in the “right mood”
In January 2019, I made a promise to myself that I would replace all time-wasting activities with productive ones in order to see what a difference not being lazy makes in one’s life. And it’s a big difference. I now completely understand the phrase, “Time is money.”
Step 2: Figure Out the Reason Behind the Procrastination
Before you can figure out how to solve procrastination, you need to understand why you’re doing it. For example, are you intentionally avoiding a task because it might be unpleasant or boring? If that’s the case, you should take the steps to get it done quickly and then guess what? It’s over with!
You might also have poor organization that makes you feel overwhelmed. Using a schedule or a to-do list can help you get in the right mindset for getting your tasks complete. I talk about how I multitasking secrets here. Another type of procrastination comes from perfectionism. Some people believe that it’s better to not to do it all if you can’t do it perfectly. An example would be writing a novel. You might be scared to work on it because you don’t want to mess it up. In this example, remember that you can always edit a bad page, but you can’t edit something that was never written. The same goes for any task that you need to do. You can always fix up something that didn’t work right the first time, but if you never start, you’ll never get that opportunity.
Another part of procrastination is not being able to make good decisions. If you can’t figure out what to do, you’ll most likely put it off. If this is the case, remember that it’s better to make a bad decision to make no decision at all. Once again, you can always fix something that’s done wrong!
Step 3: Use Anti-Procrastination Tips
Remember that procrastination is a habit, which means that’s it a behavior that is deeply ingrained in a person. You won’t be able to break it overnight. Use the following strategies to help give yourself a chance to succeed:
- Working on forgiving past procrastination. Self-forgiveness can go a long way toward making yourself feel more confident and positive about yourself. This can promote the ability to avoid procrastination in the future.
- Commit yourself to whatever task you’re doing. Focus on doing it, instead of avoiding it. Write down the task you need to finish and give yourself a deadline. This can help you tackle your workload.
- Give yourself a reward, especially if you finish a hard to do task on time. This can be something simple like a piece of cake or an extra coffee from Starbucks. Rewarding yourself can make you feel better about completion and encourage more of it in the future!
- Ask for help from your friends and family. Peer pressure can actually help you finish your task. If you know that someone is going to be checking in on your progress, you’re not going to let them down.
- Minimize the amount of distractions you have. Maybe you need to take a break from Social Media for a while or avoid having the television on while you’re working. Even avoiding your email can do wonders. Make sure you ask people to leave you alone while you’re finishing an important task too.
- Focus on getting the less pleasant tasks out of the way first so you can work on things that you really enjoy.
- Keep a To-Do list. This will help you from “accidently” forgetting something that’s unpleasant or overwhelming.
- Tackle your hardest tasks when you’re at your peak performance. When you’re feeling your best, you should do the hardest things on your list. If you can’t complete them while you’re doing great than you probably can’t finish them when you’re at your worst.
- Set a timer for work. Start with small intervals. Tell yourself that you’re going to work at your to-do list for at least five minutes, then fifteen minutes, then thirty minutes. Setting a timer will allow you to have something to push toward. Then you can reward yourself when you complete a section!
Whatever reason you have for procrastinating, you can beat it. You can get those to-do lists done, and you can finish your projects. Just remember not to be too hard on yourself. We all have moments where we need to take a breather. The important thing is that after your breather, you get right back into it, and complete what you started!