How to stop procrastinating
Procrastination is the habit of putting off tasks for a later date or time.
According to Wikipedia, procrastination is the act of deferring high-priority tasks with those of a lower priority or doing tasks that are more enjoyable and putting off important duties for later.
The key words when it comes to procrastination are habit and delay.
This delay pattern is one that very many of us have and one that often leads to more negative results than positive ones.
Though it is human nature to naturally procrastinate especially when under pressure, this is only to a certain degree.
When your procrastination begins to slow down your productivity, then it should be perceived as a problem and could even be classified as chronic procrastination.
Now we all know everyone procrastinates on something.
It’s important to recognize that you’re not alone, procrastination is normal, and there are tactics you can embrace to get through it.
In fact, procrastination is so common that several tactics have been tested and proven.
Here are the top ten ways to overcome procrastination.
1. Give it five (or ten)
With this tactic, the objective is to spend five or ten minutes doing the task that you’ve been avoiding.
The logic is that you can endure five minutes of anything.
And five minutes out of your day doesn’t impact much else.
Set yourself up for success by making a list of difficult things you have done or situations you’ve gotten through in five or 10 minutes.
Start each sentence with, “If I can _______ for 5 minutes, I can (insert task action) for 5 minutes.
Repeat these to yourself as often as needed.
If you’ve been avoiding cleaning off your desk, spend five minutes on the task.
When the five minutes is up, you are free and clear to stop working on the task.
Of course, most often, once you get into doing something, you can continue.
You’ll probably finish cleaning off that desk.
2. Be a realistic superman/superwoman
People have a tendency to feel that they can accomplish anything… So they end up over-scheduling things.
Over-scheduling is just as bad as procrastination, because if your daily schedule of responsibilities is too full, it is not realistic at all, and you will end up becoming frustrated with the results.
I know that many people feel like Superman when it comes to accomplishing goals and responsibilities.
If you are one such individual, there is no need to extinguish the image of yourself as a Superman.
However, I do want you to modify that image so that you will always be a reasonable Superman/Superwoman.
Remember how the Man of Steel worked?
He never really targeted multiple villains at once.
He just focused on one case/villain each time, and he gave that encounter his all.
3. Reward yourself
This tactic doesn’t work for everyone or every task.
However, it is successful for most, and it’s worth a try.
Look at the task or project you’re avoiding and create a motivating reward.
For example, if you’re procrastinating on writing a business plan you might reward yourself with a new piece of office furniture, business cards, or you might reward yourself with a day off.
Are you delaying starting that exercise program?
Reward yourself with a new fitness outfit after two weeks of exercising regularly.
4. Modify your environment
One of the most important factors that determine a person’s productivity in the office or in any situation is his environment.
A person’s immediate environment has a bearing on how effectively an individual may work on any given task.
Your environment can either enhance your ability to accomplish things or reduce it greatly.
In practical terms, your immediate working environment includes the following:
– Your desk (if you are working on a desk)
– People around you
– The space that surrounds you
If you can evaluate these three top components, you will be able to tell if your environment is helpful to your work or not.
Stress is very common in the workplace, and if the environment is not helping, the risk of procrastination will increase substantially.
If you can’t do anything to modify the immediate environment, try to fortify whatever space you do command.
For example, if you are in an office with cubicles that are tightly packed together, make sure that your desk is always free of clutter.
Clutter is never a good thing when you are working because your mind will always be virtually cleaning up whatever mess it sees.
If your desk is always clutter-free, your mind will be able to focus on more important things.
5. Find your why
Why are you procrastinating?
There is often an underlying reason.
Sure, maybe you just don’t like doing the task.
But maybe there is another, deeper, reason behind your procrastination.
For example, a writer may procrastinate on the last chapter of their book because they’re afraid of feedback, rejection from editors, or the revision process.
Dig deep and try to figure out why you are procrastinating.
Then, you’ll be able to face the project head on.
6. Discipline your internet use
If you work on a computer all day long, and your company doesn’t filter most of the websites that you can access, it is likely that your web-surfing habits are also contributing to your procrastination habit.
The problem is very simple: when you are doing something that is not work-related, time flies for you quickly, because there is no pressure and you don’t have to tax your mind as much.
However, when you are working, minutes feel like a whole hour.
That is why on the average, a person surfs the Internet for leisure more than for work. It is in our nature to seek enjoyment if we feel stressed or pressured.
Surfing fun or entertaining websites might relax you throughout the day, but if we look at the immediate and long-term consequences of having no Internet discipline, we will see that it’s just not worth it.
Imagine ignoring your work so you can watch videos or read “fun stuff” on the Internet.
7. Work on your discipline
The truth is that you can benefit from a little more self-discipline.
You probably don’t push yourself as much as you might.
You don’t stick to the task, and you give up too quickly – not all the time, but probably more than you’d like.
So, start working on your self-discipline.
For example, you might run for one minute longer or eat one more serving of vegetables.
Wake up 15 minutes earlier to make one more phone call each day.
Start learning to push yourself just a little bit harder.
It’ll overlap into all areas of your life, and you’ll be able to accomplish that project you’ve been dreading and avoiding.
8. Throw perfectionism out the window
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a good outcome whenever you set out to work.
However, there is a huge difference between a good/beneficial outcome and a perfect result.
99% of the time, if you aim for a good outcome, you will get the result that you want, because you acknowledge the fact that, while the result may not be perfect, it is still a good result.
9. Set realistic goals
One of the biggest reasons that people avoid some projects, goals, or tasks is because they simply expect too much from themselves.
A typical example is the weight loss goal.
“I’m going to lose 15 pounds this month,” sounds great on paper.
It’s specific, and it is time bound.
But is it realistic? Not really.
Sure, it’s possible to lose that much in a month, but it would require tremendous discipline, a great plan, and no mistakes.
Something that might be more realistic is “I’m going to lose a pound a week by cutting 500 calories out of my diet and walking for 20 minutes a day.”
This makes the plan feel more achievable, and you’re less likely to procrastinate.
When setting goals for yourself, make sure you feel 80-90% confident you can achieve the goals you set for yourself.
Procrastination is failing to get on with life itself. ~ Timothy A. Pychyl
10. Keep a list
Keep a list. A constant reminder of the things you need to do is a great way to avoid procrastination.
A small pocket notebook or even a note card works wonders for list keeping.
Keeping a list puts your daily to-dos in front of you at all times for quick reference.
Include your small goals on your list.
Get started early each day completing those small, easy goals.
Doesn’t it feel great to scratch through the things you’ve achieved?
Before you know it, the whole list is marked off!
11. How to stop procrastinating? Visualize the completed task
Imagine how you’re going to feel when the task is done.
How will your life be improved?
How will you feel?
It doesn’t matter if it’s a big project or a small one, this tactic works.
When you can imagine the outcome, it’s easier to get started on the work.
12. Set appointments you have been putting off
If you have been avoiding certain situations or completely putting off tasks such as a doctor’s appointment, don’t think about it.
Just do it!
Think about a scenario where a parent finally lets go of a child’s bicycle.
Chances are high that the child may fall, but they also may learn to balance.
In the same way, you can stop your procrastination just by diving into what needs to be done.
If it is an appointment that you need to set up, make that call now.
Don’t wait for the perfect time to make that call because as we mentioned earlier perfect does not exist.
Instead, simply make appointments for things you have putting off and get them over and done with. In other words, just do it already.
13. Make it fun
Think about what you can do to make the task fun.
Would it be more enjoyable to do it at a coffee shop?
Could you listen to your favorite music while you work on the task?
Or maybe you can enlist a friend to keep you company or help you out.
Even the most tedious tasks can be more enjoyable with the right approach.
14. Believe In Yourself
When you believe in yourself, you gain a passion for life and an enthusiasm that will help you get through the day.
Once you believe in yourself, you have the power to get over procrastination and reach your ultimate goals in life.
15. Positive mindset development
Wipe away all negative thoughts and language around the task you’re procrastinating on.
For example, if you catch yourself thinking, “I hate cleaning my desk.”
You might change that to “I love having a clean desk.
I feel more productive and creative when I have a clean desk.”
Then, you can focus on what is possible about the task or project and let go of the negativity.
16. Examine the consequences of immediate gratification.
Impulse control often lies at the heart of chronic procrastination.
Try asking yourself which activities will contribute more to your wellbeing over the long term.
You may enjoy watching several episodes of your favorite TV show back to back when it’s more profitable to spend that time studying.
Procrastination is a way of living in the past instead of the present moment. ~ Debasish Mridha
17. Break up projects
Break up large projects you’ve been procrastinating on into smaller bite-sized tasks.
Often, we avoid doing some things because we know they’re going to take forever.
You control this.
For example, instead of painting the entire house, you might paint one room each month until the project is done.
You get to decide how the project is managed and completed.
If you’re procrastinating on a work project, you may not get to decide how it’s managed but you can still break it up into smaller pieces that feel more manageable.
18. Work on your procrastination triggers
Which of these procrastination triggers fire at least once a week?
- “I don’t think I can make an impact by taking action on this.”
- “I don’t know where to start.”
- “I don’t think I can really make this work.”
- “I can’t take action until I make an important decision about this.”
- “I can’t work on this because I still have to work on something else.”
- “I’m waiting until I can do it perfectly.”
- “I really don’t care about doing the task in the first place.” `
- “I can’t work on this because if I screw it up, the consequences will be too terrible.”
- “I’m just scared to face up to this situation or task.”
- “I’m just too busy.”
Every time you catch yourself coming up with a procrastination trigger as an excuse ask yourself this question. “Is this really true?”
19. Group related projects
Sometimes a task you’re putting off doing is related to other tasks.
For example, cleaning your desk and updating your files are two tasks that may overlap.
When you group similar tasks and projects, it helps you be more productive.
It also helps you capitalize on a productive mindset and feel accomplished when you’re finished.
One project runs into the next, and you are done with that dreaded project before you know it.
20. Start some new habits.
Now that you know some easier ways to get things done, use these same tips each day for every project that comes up.
- Instead of just putting it aside for later, divide your project immediately into attainable smaller tasks, delegate what you can, and do something on it right away.
- Make it a point to do this consciously for a few weeks, and it will become a habit.
Most experts agree that it takes three weeks to turn a conscious action into a habit.
Look at the tasks and projects you’ve been procrastinating on both in your personal and your professional life.
Bernard Meltzer said: “Hard work is often easy work you didn’t get done at the proper time.”
One of these tactics is sure to help you push through and get the job done.
Identify the tactic that may work best for you and enjoy your success.
Procrastination doesn’t have to slow you down.
The longer you put off doing a task or project, the harder it’ll be to get it done because more work has piled up, conditions have gotten worse, and others involved are now irritated with you.
How to stop procrastinating
Make your job easier and your life more enjoyable by following these tips to overcome your procrastination and avoid it in the future.
You’ll be glad you did!
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