It happens to even the best of people. Maybe it’s chores to be done, work to complete, or maybe its a long-term dream of yours that’s been put off for years. In any case, none of these tasks are important to you at this time. The day has been long and your stress levels are high, so why do something when you can wait? You grab a drink, take a seat, and focus on relaxing before whatever tasks life decides to throw at your next. While the temporary relief is nice, you know deep down that you have succumb to a bout of procrastination.
Procrastination is a common issue that many people struggle with, often leading to decreased productivity and increased stress. Whether it’s putting off a work project or delaying personal goals, procrastination can prevent us from reaching our potential. In this article, we’ll discuss eight tips for overcoming procrastination, allowing you to take control of your tasks and improve your productivity.
Identify the Root Causes
The first step to overcoming procrastination is understanding why you’re procrastinating in the first place. “Knowing is half the battle” is a popular quote for a reason, after all. Common reasons include fear of failure, perfectionism, or feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand. Knowing this fact, we must first self-reflect and try to find the “why” behind our procrastination. Once you’ve identified the root cause, you can develop a targeted strategy to address it.
Break Tasks into Smaller Steps
Large tasks can seem daunting, making it easy to put them off in favor of less intimidating chores. This is even more likely on the days where we’ve already had a lot to do and are already stressed out from the days’ previous events. To combat this, break tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. Cleaning the house can start with cleaning a single room; getting caught up on laundry can start with doing a single load and then waiting. This can make it easier to get started and help you maintain momentum as you progress through the task.
Set Clear Deadlines
Deadlines create a sense of urgency and can help you stay focused on your goals. For tasks without external deadlines, set your own timeline for completion. That way, it’s not always left up to your mood and feeling at any given moment. Just make sure your deadlines are realistic and hold yourself accountable for meeting them, otherwise this will quickly prove to be an ineffective strategy.
Use Time Management Techniques
Partially tied in with our last point – effective time management can help you overcome procrastination by providing structure and focus. If we are able to make the rest of our daily tasks more structed and manageable, then we will have a lot less stress overall when it comes time to deal with those tasks which we normally procrastinate on. We recommend looking into techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique, time blocking, and/or the two-minute rule; all of which can help you prioritize tasks and make the most of your available time.
Develop a Reward System
Create a reward system to motivate yourself to complete tasks. This can be as simple as allowing yourself a short break after finishing a task or indulging in a favorite activity once a larger project is completed. Some people might think this is a silly practice, but rewarding yourself for a job well done can help reinforce positive habits and make it easier to overcome procrastination. Just make sure that the reward is not something that could potentially lead to an unhealthy habit such as overeating or abusing substances!
Procrastination often thrives in environments filled with distractions and clutter. There’s a reason why we often feel more focused and in-control in an environment that’s clean and tidy versus one that’s cluttered and dirty. Identify the things that tend to sidetrack you, whether it’s social media, noise, or clutter, and take steps to minimize or eliminate these distractions while you work. We’ve found that changing our phone setting so that everything displays in grayscale (black-and-white) can actually be quite helpful for minimizing the addictiveness of social media scrolling!
Focus on Progress, Not Perfection
Perfectionism can be a major contributor to procrastination. If we’re trying to do something perfectly, then we’re more likely to wait until a moment where we have the motivation to perform at a “perfect” level (which rarely happens on a day-to-day basis!) While perfectionism can be a blessing in certain circumstances, remind yourself that progress is more important than perfection, and that it’s better to complete most tasks imperfectly than to never finish it at all. This mindset shift can help you let go of unrealistic expectations and tackle tasks more effectively.
Develop a Routine
Establishing a consistent daily routine can help you build productive habits and minimize procrastination. Set aside specific times for work, breaks, and leisure activities, and try to stick to this schedule as closely as possible. One of our favorite books (Atomic Habits) suggests “Habit Stacking” if you already have pre-existing routines. The point of Habit Stacking is to directly tie a new habit to a pre-existing habit, that way you’re less likely to forget the new habit you want to perform. For example, “I want to start doing 5 pushups before bed every night, so I’m going to always to it right after I brush my teeth.”
The Right Path Vs. The Easy Path
Overcoming procrastination requires time, effort, and persistence, but the payoff is well worth it! By implementing some or all of these strategies, you can take control of your to-do list, boost your productivity, and achieve your personal and professional goals. Remember that change won’t happen overnight, but with dedication and consistency, you can conquer procrastination and become a more productive version of yourself!