We all procrastinate. There’s nothing shameful about that, it’s just human nature. And while it’s acceptable to be lazy from time to time, procrastination can become a very bad habit very quickly. Often we don’t even know we’re doing it. Especially in our age of technology and social media, it’s never been easier to “slightly postpone” your duties by checking your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, only to realize two hours later that you did nothing productive except scrolling (and judging).
Studies indicate that we lose about twenty days in a year to procrastination and activities that bring us no special benefits. Now stop and think about that for a moment. How many books could you read in twenty days? Or do anything else that is good for you, from going on a vacation to spending quality time with your friends and family? Once you put in numbers just how much of our precious time we waste, it becomes clear that we need to do something to make it right. Different people react to different methods when it comes to stopping procrastination, which is why in this article, we’ll give you a mishmash of different tips and techniques that you can try out to get your procrastinating habits under control. Like with every new habit, you need to be consistent and show perseverance in order to have permanent results.
This first tip sounds quite obvious, but it is extremely on point. One of the main troubles we’re facing when it comes to procrastinating is that we don’t recognize the mechanisms behind it. We’re so used to simply floating into procrastination mode that we don’t even notice.
Things and situations that make you procrastinate are usually daunting tasks, something that is excruciatingly boring or it takes up a lot of time you want to spend on something else. You probably encounter these self-imposed obstacles on your job, with your house chores or working on yourself in any form. Every time you feel the need to stop doing something to procrastinate stop for a second and try to understand what is happening in your mind. Are you trying to distract yourself? Have you convinced yourself you work best under pressure? Are you afraid that what you’re doing won’t be good enough? Are you convincing yourself that what you’re doing isn’t that important anyway and praising all the other things you’ve done right?
Chances are that your thoughts are a mix of aforementioned responses you have on doing something you don’t like, but as soon as you recognize them they will become a red flag. Every time this kind of thinking arises, notice it and understand you’re about to go into full procrastination mode. After that, all you need to do is continue working and the thoughts will disappear just as quickly as they appeared.
You don’t have to do it all at once
When we think about doing something we’ve got an aversion towards, you usually imagine hours of work at your table, with no break or rest in sight. Then, when you break this bleak picture by procrastinating, you feel satisfied, though it will only make it that much harder to get everything done.
The easiest way to prevent any job from becoming overwhelming is to separate it into smaller chunks and then work on each of those chunks one at a time. Once you start working on a small task within a bigger one, do your best to focus on what you’re doing right now, and leave all the other parts to the future. That way, not only will the feeling of being overwhelmed be gone, but you will also be more productive with what you’re currently doing.
Make a competition out of it
You can compete with either yourself or the passing of time. Either way try to make it more fun. Even if you’re not a competitive person, assigning yourself with how much time you’ll spend on something in a day will get you into competitive mood.
You know very well that if you don’t get things done in the allotted time, everything else you’re supposed to do (especially the fun stuff) gets pushed back. Why would you want to do that to yourself? If it is a big project that requires a lot of work to be done right away, then break it into thirty-minute sessions, after which you get a five to ten-minute break. Use that time wisely – open your window and let some fresh air in, play with your pet or just let go of your thoughts for a couple of minutes. Naturally, take some bigger breaks from time to time, so that you can eat in peace and for that time, do your best not to think about what else needs to be done.
Distractions – get rid of them
So much of our work is done on computer these days, and that is simultaneously a blessing and a curse. All the social media, fun websites, games, IM with friends that are procrastinating just like you are but a click away, so how can you resist them?
Thankfully, there are millions of people that are in the same predicament like you, and they’ve come up with some very useful apps to limit your procrastination to a minimum. Apps like Stay Focusd or Timeful are there to make you giving up social media as easy as possible, because they can limit your time on certain websites, after which sites will be blocked for the rest of the day. As harsh as it sounds, you’re probably aware that it’s necessary to get things done. There are some who suggest that completely disconnecting your internet connection is a good idea, but if you need the web for your work, then this isn’t really plausible. Other options are that you explore the internet in incognito tab or other security mode, so that even if you’re tempted to check your Facebook, you’ll have to login and that alone is enough to put you off of it.
Don’t wait for optimal circumstances
Here’s a procrastination tactic that provides us with an excellent excuse to fool ourselves and all around us. You make yourself believe that you simply can’t get something done unless this or that happens. While there are situations in which this is valid, most of the time waiting for optimal circumstances is nothing more than an excuse. Face the facts that things will never be perfect – all you can do is try your best and know that if you do not choose your moment, the moment will choose you.
Create to-do list of things you avoid doing
Great strategy for facing all your daunting tasks is to write them down. It’s easy to make a timetable with all different things that you have no problem doing, spend much more time doing all you like and then leave no time for what really needs to be done. When you get all you need to do, create a schedule of doing it and stick to it as much as your willpower allows you. Put the list somewhere where you can see it, either on your work desk or get one of those apps that pops up your to-do list every time you open a new tab.
Get over yourself
Yes, this seems like an advice you get from conceited people, who just happen to be time management gurus and juggle 25 hobbies with their job and volunteer work, but you do need to get over yourself.
Most of the obstacles and challenges about working on uninteresting or difficult tasks are mainly in our head. Even planning to get things done becomes a form of procrastination if you allow it, which is why you need to know when it’s time to start working. No, you shouldn’t wait for the night before deadline to do anything, because it will be sloppy and unfinished and no, you haven’t got enough time to spend an hour watching something on Netflix. Our first advice was to know yourself and our last is to overcome that lazy part of yourself that is so keen on procrastinating.
Like with most rehabs, getting rid of procrastination habits is often a slow process and you need to take it one step at a time to make it work. Don’t procrastinate to stop procrastinating (yes, it’s a paradox, and yes, it happens more often than you think) and know that all you accomplish you’re actually doing it for yourself and your improvement and if that doesn’t seem too important to you, then procrastinate away.
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