We all have things in life we are not excited about, such as school or work assignments, working out, home improvement projects, etc. Pushing through these tasks can feel dreadful—we do anything to avoid actually getting started. The longer we procrastinate, the more likely things are to sit on our ‘to do list’ week after week, or eventually fall off completely. At some point this all catches up to us, which leads to conflict, more stress, and yes, you guessed it—putting things off longer.
So, in recognition of Fight Procrastination Day, let’s chat and chew about tips to help overcome the perpetual cycle of procrastination… tomorrow.
It starts with organization. The simplest way to help fight procrastination is to get organized. If you’re avoiding things because you can’t find all the necessary documents needed to get started, develop a filing system for your email, computer desktop, and folders that works best for you.
Determine when you’re focused. If you find it easier to knock out projects or errands in the morning, make it a priority to do so before the day gets underway. On the other hand, if you can accomplish more under the moonlight, feel free to keep outstanding work until everyone is sound asleep.
Understand the purpose of a ‘to do list’. I am guilty of rewriting my daily and weekly assignments over and over again, which come to find, is actually considered a form of procrastination. First, consolidate. If you’ve jotted down tasks on a Post-It note, back of a napkin, or in a notebook, put everything on one master list. Having everything in one place will allow you to prioritize better. Next, rather than succumb to feelings of added pressure, try to find a few small things you can quickly accomplish to boost momentum you need to tackle whatever’s leftover.
Build in breaks and rewards. If you lack the motivation to complete a project, make a promise to yourself that if you just get started, you will take a quick break in 45 minutes or treat yourself to a snack. When faced with a larger assignment, break it down into smaller milestones and set up rewards for reaching each deadline. It’s amazing how quickly you’ll adjust to your proposed schedule knowing something new is waiting for you!
Set a timer. Playing off of the last tip, when you are about to jump into a project you’ve been avoiding for days or weeks, use a timer to help keep yourself on track. If you promised yourself a break after 45 minutes of uninterrupted work, than make sure you actually take one. If the timer goes off and you find you’re in a good workflow, reset the clock and keep plugging away.
Send distractions packing. A lot of times we unintentionally, or intentionally, procrastinate because of disruptions or visitors. We also spend an unhealthy amount checking email, social media, and our phones. Use free apps like RescueTime and LeechBlock to help you eliminate the time you waste procrastinating. Remember, when it’s time to buckle down, it’s important to shutdown.
At the end of the day, you need to find a way to overcome procrastination that works best for you. If you try to mold yourself into something completely different, you’ll likely end up doing even less work than before. If you work hard, you can play hard, so for your next big project, make sure you’re putting together an all-star lineup to help you pull off the win! Have suggestions of your own for how to fight procrastination? Feel free to share in the comments section above.