In a world that’s fast-paced, the concept of procrastination is becoming more and more detrimental in our lives. Persistent procrastinating is often synonymous with the idea of laziness. It creates a feeling of failure or stress that we’re unable to get things done in an efficient way.
But we all do it. We’re all united in our ability to avoid difficult tasks in favour of something more easy or enjoyable. For some of us, it’s become more of a habit and something we’re aware that we need to change.
Whether it’s fear of failure, overwhelming feelings, avoidance or convincing yourself you’re just too busy to get something done, you can improve your ability to be productive and start eliminating your procrastinating ways.
1. Locate your procrastination triggers
If you find you’re really putting something off day after day, it might be a good idea to identify the source of your procrastination.
Ask yourself why.
Understanding your feelings behind your avoidance can help you move past it. Perhaps it’s lack of self-confidence, fear of failure or it’s just too intimidating.
Identifying the reason and shifting your mindset can really help you get back on track.
2. Simplify anything complicated
Overthinking and perfectionism is a massive catalyst for procrastination. When the goal is important to us but fear comes to the fore, our mind starts complicating it as a way to keep us from it.
We put things off because we’re waiting for the perfect moment to start or when a situation changes, but know this is just an illusion.
The perfect time is always now.
Don’t let your mind over-complicate anything. If an excuse comes up tell yourself it’s not true. It’s always much more simple to get on with achieving your goal than you think.
3. Break things into bite-sized pieces
A lot of the time procrastination comes from overwhelming thoughts.
If something feels too big to tackle and we don’t know where to start, it feels like a struggle. This is also true if our goal is too vague and lacking direction.
Break down larger tasks into smaller ones and turn them into daily or weekly goals. Smaller steps may seem like the slower approach to achieving a goal, but it often leads you much more quickly to where you want to be due to the powerful momentum you get going.
4. Do the difficult stuff first
Even if you feel you’re not a morning person, the beginning of the day is when your brain is most productive. Use this window of time to get the more difficult stuff done.
If you leave your difficult tasks to later, you’re much more likely to put it off because you’re tired and lack motivation.
Finishing lots of simple tasks at the beginning of the day such as reading all the new emails only gives you a false sense of being productive.
5. Take planned breaks
Our brain isn’t designed to work continuously on the same task and this could be a reason for procrastination.
Make sure you take regular, structured breaks away from your task so that you can come back refreshed and ready to be more productive.
6. Reward yourself
It’s really important to acknowledge and reward yourself for achieving even the small tasks. It creates a sense of motivation and releases those feel-good, productive emotions that spur you on to achieve even more.
Make your reward proportional to the task you completed so getting a bite-sized task done gets you a cup of your favourite coffee or snack. Then plan a weekend away or fun activity for the bigger stuff.
7. Re-clarify your goals
Much of the time procrastination tendencies form simply because we’ve outgrown our goals. We’re ever-changing and so are our wants in life. Try looking over your goals and ask yourself if they’re still what you want.
Take time out to regroup and ask yourself what you really want to achieve:
- What steps do you need to take?
- Is what you’re currently doing reflecting what you want?
- What do you need to change?
Write things down, scribble them out and rewrite.
8. Create a timeline with deadlines
It’s common to have a deadline for a goal which seems like a good idea but this is basically an open invitation for procrastination.
If it’s a self-created deadline with no pressure, we tend to justify pushing it back each time it comes into sight and feel we haven’t yet done ‘enough’ to get there.
Create a bigger timeline then within that, establish deadlines along the way. The beauty of this comes when each deadline completion is dependent on the next. It keeps you on track and keeps you accountable for being in alignment with the overall timeline.
9. Write out a to-do (and a not–to-do) list each day
Writing things down is powerful and psychologically increases your need to get things done.
Each day, make a habit of creating a list of the tasks you know you’ll try and avoid.
By doing this, it brings these ‘difficult’ tasks to your mind’s attention instead of keeping them locked away somewhere in your avoidance mode.
Remember, think how satisfying and productive it feels to cross of a completed task.
Change your habits and your mindset
Procrastination exists for many reasons and only we know for ourselves what these triggers are. Understanding the source of your avoidance tendencies is important in moving them out of the way.
But mainly understand that just creating a few new habits and integrating them into your daily life will help start the productivity momentum. Shifting your perspective and mindset towards your goals is key to becoming that productive, successful person you know you really are.