Another day is here and you still haven’t started — let alone finished — that major piece of work you’ve been meaning to do.
Now the deadline is looming like the grim reaper and your anxiety levels are rising by the minute. Sound familiar? You tell yourself there’s always tomorrow. But, why not start today?
Procrastination is a habit that is just as ingrained as biting your nails or tapping your fingers when nervous. Being a serial procrastinator is not only bad for productivity but is also detrimental to stress levels and self confidence. This results in unfulfilled goals and feelings of guilt.
The key is to rid yourself of the fear of failure and negative thoughts. Here are 9 ways to stop procrastinating on those dreaded tasks and just get the work done.
1. Change Your Environment
If you’re finding it impossible to find your groove in your usual workspace, it’s time to change it up. Go to the park, a coffee shop, or even move to a different room. Physically removing yourself and working in a different environment may be the remedy you need to get into the right headspace and crank out the work.
2. Write Two To-Do Lists
If you have one long list of all your tasks, it is natural to want to complete the nice, easy tasks first and avoid more challenging ones. To combat this, create two separate to-do lists. Focus on the important tasks that you want to put off first. Once these have been checked off as complete, move on to your list of simple tasks.
3. Break It Down
It’s undoubtedly overwhelming to stare at a blank page and wonder how on Earth you’re going to write a 2,000-word masterpiece. A great technique is to break a task into smaller components so you can complete it in chunks. That way, it’s much more manageable and wards away feelings of anxiety and panic.
4. Create a Detailed Plan
Once you’ve broken your task into smaller parts, it’s time to make a plan. Using the deadline as a guide, give each mini-task its own completion date. Work out what resources you need and whether you’ll need assistance from other people. Print your plan out and have it next to you as a constant reminder of what needs to be done by when. Don’t forget to tick off each small task as you go. It’s a great motivator to keep going.
5. Eliminate Distractions
It’s all too easy nowadays to do something — anything else — to avoid doing something you don’t want to do. Create a new habit of switching off from social media, email and phone calls when completing important tasks. If you get distracted easily when working on your laptop, consider using an online distraction management tool such as Freedom. This solution blocks websites and apps so you’re not tempted to spend another 30 minutes browsing Wikipedia.
6. Get Inspired
Has someone already accomplished the very thing you’re trying to achieve? Look to them for inspiration and find out exactly how they stay motivated. You may feel you’re the only one struggling with procrastination but the fact is that everyone procrastinates from time to time. The difference is that some people push through and get things done no matter what. Use these people’s stories and be your own success story.
7. Give Yourself a Positive Motivator and Negative Consequence
Instead of having negative thoughts towards a task you particularly detest, think about what the implications of not doing it may be. Will your reputation be tarnished? Will you lose out on winning future work?
Attaching a consequence to an action, or inaction can be a powerful motivator. Similarly, allow yourself a reward once you have completed a task that was especially challenging. If you are rewarded with something that is valued by you, this will enhance feelings of positivity and personal satisfaction.
8. Get a Support Team
It’s easy to procrastinate when there’s nobody around to check on what you’re doing. This is a common plight of freelancers and anyone who works by themselves. One way to ensure procrastination doesn’t rear its ugly head is to enlist the help of others and tell them what you want to achieve. Make sure they check in on you often and will provide the encouragement you need to meet those deadlines.
9. Stop Trying To Be PerfectProcrastination goes hand in hand with perfectionism. Click To Tweet
Procrastination goes hand in hand with perfectionism, and it can be harmful to output. Sure, it’s important to do things right and take pride in your work, but there comes a point where what you’re producing is more than good enough. Ask yourself whether it’s worth spending another day or two on that same task, or whether you should leave it be and move on.
It’s not going to happen overnight, but it is possible to take steps to stop procrastination in its tracks and hop aboard the productivity train. Be brave and don’t let fear hold you back from getting things done today.
Let us know if any of these techniques work for you and whether you have any other tips to wave goodbye to procrastination in the comments below!