When we procrastinate we delay an important task usually by focusing on less urgent more enjoyable and easier activities instead. It’s different from laziness which is typically just a lack of energy or motivation to act.
That being said, when procrastination starts to prevent you from achieving your goals or contributes to a sense of unhappiness, it’s definitely time to make some changes. The following proven methods may just be what you need to stop procrastinating!
Have a positive attitude
Another way to fight procrastination, is to start with a more positive attitude. Look more closely at tings that are positive, and avoid the negative where you can. You may feel that you can’t do a certain task, because of some negative emotion.
However if you consider your successes in similar things you’ve completed in the past, this will change your mood. Focus more on why you can do this and less on why you think you can’t.
Break it down
One of the reasons we procrastinate is that subconsciously we find our task overwhelming. To make it less intimidating, try breaking it down into smaller sections and focus on one part at a time.
Not only is the resulting amount of work more manageable it doesn’t look as overwhelming. Besides once you complete the smaller pieces of the task you will feel a sense of accomplishment. This helps reinforce your determination to tackle the rest.
Ask for assistance
Sometimes you may find that an unexpected hurdle or issue with your task or assignment throws your motivation away, and you start to actively avoid it. If that happens to you and you start to feel overwhelmed, ask a colleague or friend for help.
You may find that they bring a different perspective and help you solve the issue and move on, a lot faster than if you kept at it yourself.
Plan it out
Jumping into a task or project without a clear picture of what’s involved and how you’re going to handle it can jeopardise the outcome. Without a plan, you may find that you have a tendency is to use any excuse to put off doing what’s required.
You might even try giving up at the first sign of trouble. Creating a plan will at least provide a road-map that you can reference.
Another way to motivate yourself to complete your task at hand, is to promise yourself a reward that you can enjoy, once it’s been completed. Do something nice for yourself, such as catch a movie or have coffee with a friend.
Maybe try taking a nap or going for a bushwalk. Whatever it is this reward will help solidify a healthy pattern of completing items on your to-do list.
Change your location
Your work-space should make you feel inspired so take a look around. Does the environment motivate you, or make you want to sleep?
If it’s the latter, try changing location. For example, sit in the sunshine or find a brighter part of your home.
Perfectionism can often hinder progress. Tweaking and altering your project endlessly is not going to make you any happier with the end result. If anything, your relentless focus on tiny details will make you frustrated and depressed about the whole thing.
When you find yourself focussing on elements of perfectionism, try and help yourself by relaxing your standards. Aim towards being ‘good enough’ and work your way up to ‘great’ – if you have the leftover time and energy.
Review those goals
One of the reasons why we procrastinate is because there is a misalignment between what we want to achieve and what we are currently doing. If this is the case for you, you may find that it is the perfect time to take a moment and review your goals.
We often outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves however we fail to adjust our goals to reflect that. So take some time out. Go on a short vacation or go away for a weekend to reorganise yourself.
Create multiple deadlines
If you simply create just one single deadline at the end of a large bit of work, then this is an invitation to procrastinate, because it allows you to think that you have plenty of time ahead of you.
Instead, try breaking the work down into logical parts, and give them each a deadline. For example, step one in 2 weeks, step two in 3 weeks, etc. That way, you can find yourself slipping at a point, then you can speed up to make up for lost time.
If you find yourself procrastinating a little too much, maybe it’s because you’re setting yourself up to have distractions around you. You know what I am talking about, things like social media, or binge watching your favourite Netflix show, calling up friends for coffee dates and so on.
Now, don’t go crazy and deactivate your Instagram or Facebook accounts, however try keeping them closed during work hours, or delete their apps from your phone entirely. Things such as disabling notifications and closing your emails can make a huge difference.
In the end it all comes down to taking action. Nothing will happen unless you take action about your procrastination and admit to yourself that you want to get things done, and that you need to take control and start somewhere.
Procrastination is a deeply ingrained pattern of behaviour and you probably can’t break it overnight. So don’t beat yourself up if you slip every once in a while. Habits only stop being habits when you avoid practicing them. Give it a go!