Have you ever agreed to do something and then promptly proceeded to put it off until later? Whether it is work-life or personal life, everyone has put off tasks at some point. If you find yourself consistently leaving things until ‘later,’ then you might have a procrastination problem on your hands. We will cover 8 tips to help overcome procrastination.
What is Procrastination?
To put it in simple terms, procrastination is the act of delaying or putting off tasks until the last minute or past the intended deadline. Many of us are guilty of that – some more than others. Some might say that it is a lack of discipline and accountability that leads to procrastination.
The silver lining is that even the toughest of procrastination habits can be overcome with the right strategies in place. Let’s look at some effective methods to overcome procrastination.
Tips to Overcome Procrastination
1. Stop Catastrophizing
One reason procrastinators continue delaying tasks is that they love to catastrophize a situation and make a big deal out of it. A task may be tough or unbearable, but eventually, it must be done. Making mountains out of molehills will get you nowhere, so it is best to take things step by step with a positive attitude rather than expecting the worst and freezing.
Taking things at face value will give you the much-needed motivation to face them head on and accomplish tasks in time. You’ll start to tackle the tasks rather than simply thinking about them. This is the most popular tip to overcome procrastination.
Many successful people today make the first few hours of the workday their most productive. Taking on the difficult, important, and perhaps most dreaded items first will help you get things done faster. One of the reasons for this is that you have the most willpower at the beginning of the day.
Starting is the hardest part. Once you have tricked your brain into starting the task, the rest will follow. Your brain will have an instant desire to see the rest of the task through to completion. So, start with the hard-to-do bits and make them have higher priority.
3. Reduce Distractions
If you are the kind of person who gets distracted by small or minor things, then that can be a big issue when it comes to starting and completing a task. A common distraction is your cellphone, especially when it is chirping during a project and breaking your focus. Its mere presence is enough to distract you and throw you off course. So, turn off your alerts or put your phone on airplane mode so you can focus on your task with 100% attention.
Shut down or mute all the messengers and chatting applications. Thinking about everything else you need to do other than the task at hand? Put a notepad near you, or open up your digital notepad on your computer. When another task pops into your mind, write down a quick note reminding you about what needs to be done and then get back to your current project. Don’t spend more than 30 seconds thinking about something else, or you’ll shift your focus away from what you’re already doing.
4. Set Shorter Deadlines
Some people tend to delay working on assigned tasks right up to the last minute out of sheer habit. If this is your style of working, then this can cause extra stress that may detrimentally affect the quality of your work product. The best way to deal with this is to break up the task into several portions and assign a different deadline to each part. This gives you a range of shorter deadlines that force you to complete a substantial portion of your work before the final due date.
For example, a three-chapter report due in a month can become three small papers in your mind, each due a week after the last. With 3 weeks of shorter deadlines, you can feel accomplished as you finish each one and move on to the next.
5. Increase Difficulty
It may seem counter-intuitive to you, but increasing the difficulty of a project can be a route to feeling more engaged and motivated to start it. For some people, feeling under-challenged or bored can make a task difficult to push through. Empower yourself to make it into a more robust project by perhaps adding more creativity and ingenuity. This could bring some motivation to see you through to completion. Your brain may experience a greater sense of reward and satisfaction by completing a more challenging task.
6. Become Self-Aware
How many times have you delayed getting to work on a task because you were simply not in the mood to do it? This is a common reason for procrastinating and here is another tip to overcome that procrastination.
The next time you are about to begin a task, first take a moment to notice how you’re feeling. Sometimes, you need to notice and name the emotion you’re experiencing in order to acknowledge that you may not like how you feel about undertaking that particular task. You may actually be attempting to avoid the way you feel when you are procrastinating. For example, negative feelings may arise when you think of a group member of the project that causes you stress. Or, you could be having mood dampening issues in your personal life that spill over into your work life, causing a lack of motivation.
If you realize that this is what’s going on for you, you’ve taken a major step forward. Tell yourself that while it is unpleasant, you can tolerate how you feel as you do it. Keep the task itself isolated from the negative factors that affect your mood. Then set yourself a small goal. For example, challenge yourself to do this unpleasant task for a half hour. Set a timer. When your time is up, pat yourself on the back and consider what your next goal will be. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to build a tolerance to how you’re feeling when you don’t want to do something.
7. Get Into the Habit of Scheduling
https://ignitepotential.com/2019/04/5-ways-to-build-a-new-habit/No doubt you use a scheduler, but are you making it fully work for you? There are different styles of scheduling, such as block scheduling of time versus detailed scheduling hour by hour. Find out which way works for you for your best accountability.
As you schedule items, tie someone to that deliverable. For example, if your boss asked you for something but didn’t give you a deadline, figure out when you can do this within your own schedule. Then, send your boss an email about the deadline you set. A technique like this solidifies your self-imposed deadline. You can easily use coworkers as well. Let them know that you would like them to look over a document and then set the deadline letting them know when you will get it to them by.
8. Think About Your ‘Why’
Consider the value of what you need to get done. What is the impact of what you’re doing, and why does it matter? This can be a concrete answer that is connected to the task, or it can be a big picture answer where you think about the impact the company is making. Helping yourself see the bigger context can be quite motivating, especially as you see how your particular task will fit into the objective and goals of the overall project or vision. Engage yourself into tackling the task by determining your own sense of commitment and identifying your Why.
Conclusion to Overcoming Procrastination
Picking up the following habits will not miraculously happen overnight. However, incremental changes will eventually become second nature. Consistency will help you develop lasting positive habits to overcome procrastination tendencies, and help you continue your professional and personal development.
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