7 Tips to Beat Procrastination

Is procrastination a serious challenge in your life? Admittedly, it can be difficult to do things we don’t want to do.

Even when we know that waiting too long will create a lot of challenges, getting started can still seem impossible. Unfortunately, when procrastinating affects your job-related tasks, it can have a negative impact on your professional career as well.

So how can you kick this annoying tendency to put things off and start getting them done instead?

Try these strategies:

  1. Schedule when you’re going to do it. Make an appointment in your calendar for the day and time you’re going to work on the task. This is far more effective than just leaving everything up in the air until the right moment seems to present itself.
  2. Consider scheduling just enough time to get started. A long, unpleasant task can be very difficult to start. Think, “I’m going to work on this for 20 minutes.” That’s easy enough that you should be able to sit down and get busy. Interestingly, once you get started, you’ll probably spend a lot more than 20 minutes on it. Getting starting is the tough part.
    • Make it as easy to get started as you possibly can.
  3. Break the task into smaller parts. Larger tasks can seem overwhelming. By dividing the task into manageable parts, it will be psychologically easier to tackle the project. It’s easier to do 10 small things than one big thing.
    • For example, once you’ve done five small things, you know that you’ve completedfive things, instead of just starting on the one big thing without deriving any sense of accomplishment. So break that task down into smaller bites.
  4. Which part is the most dreaded part? Frequently, there is a small part of the task that is really holding you back. Is it possible to get someone else to take care of that part of the task for you? Can you outsource it? Many times, if someone else handles the part you dread, everything else will fall into place.
  5. Pick the best time to do it. We all have times of the day that we’re better at certain tasks. We have times when we’re better at concentrating, others when we’re more creative, and other times when we have more energy. What’s the proper time for you to tackle the task? Do you need quiet and privacy? Do you need access to certain people?
  6. Get what you need to complete it. Make a list of the tools, supplies, and resources that you’ll need to both begin and complete the task. It’s hard to get started when you know you can’t get finished.
  7. Reward yourself! Give yourself a reward for completing the task. You’ve earned it! It doesn’t have to be anything big, but we all like a little treat now and then. A little additional motivation never hurt anyone.

Imagine how much better your life would be if you could kick the procrastination habit out the door. Unfinished tasks have a profound effect on your sense of well-being and peace of mind. Living with the stress that procrastination can cause isn’t necessary. Start using the tips above and remove the challenge of procrastination from your life. You’ll be so glad you did!

A Procrastinator’s Guide to Becoming More Punctual

By some estimates, 20 percent of people consider themselves to be chronic procrastinators and many more put things off on occasion. If procrastination is getting in between you and your life goals, try these suggestions for getting things done with less delay.

Understanding Why You Procrastinate

  1. Spot perfectionism. Procrastination and perfectionism often go hand in hand. You may be setting your standards so high that they intimidate you from doing your best. Determine if you’re avoiding important tasks because you’re anxious about how well you’ll perform.
  2. Make up your mind. You might procrastinate because you find it challenging to make decisions. You keep developing more options and telling yourself that you’re doing background research rather than buckling down to more concrete work.
  3. Analyze your feelings about the last minute rush. Maybe you’ve become conditioned to the euphoria you feel when working under pressure. You may need to find more productive ways to motivate and reward yourself.

Changing Your Thinking

  1. 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.
  2. Drop the dread. Worrying about a project can often be more unpleasant than just doing it. Try adopting a neutral state of mind when you start listing all the reasons why you put off a project, like doing your taxes. You may be pleasantly surprised at how effectively you can reduce the stress you place on yourself.
  3. Hold yourself accountable. Take charge of your life by acknowledging your own abilities and making a commitment to give your best efforts to the things you care about. For example, get started today on your resolution to exercise daily rather than waiting until some hypothetical time when you’ll feel more energetic.

Developing New Habits

  1. Schedule your time realistically. Take an inventory of how you currently use your time. Calculate how long it really takes you to complete your typical errands compared to the overly optimistic scenarios that keep putting you behind schedule.
  1.  Minimize distractions. If checking emails and surfing the web are eating up your time, put those distractions out of reach temporarily. See how much more you can accomplish when you focus only on the task at hand.
  2. Manage interruptions. Some interruptions are inevitable. Remain flexible so you can get back to work quickly rather than letting a five minute phone call turn into a wasted afternoon.
  3. Break tasks down into manageable chunks. Set intermediate deadlines for yourself. If your final proposal is due in a month, allot time for each section, editing, and proofreading.
  4.  Practice with small endeavors. You can turn almost anything into an opportunity to reinforce your new habits. Wipe down the kitchen counters immediately instead of saving up all of your cleaning for the weekend.
  5. Reward your progress. You might procrastinate because it allows you to spend time on things you enjoy more than the things you’re trying to avoid. When you do your grocery shopping before work rather than sleeping for another hour, pay yourself back by serving up your favorite dish for dinner.
  6. Expect setbacks. You’re likely to experience some backsliding. Look for the temptations that pull you off course and develop strategies to overcome them. If you feel lethargic after dinner, schedule your toughest work early in the morning when you’re more alert.

Overcoming a tendency to procrastinate will help you accomplish more and feel better about yourself. By devoting your energies to meaningful activities rather than trying to avoid them, you’ll enjoy more peace of mind and a richer life.