Procrastination is a funny thing. Are you here reading this instead of doing some work? If so, well done for acknowledging that you’re procrastinating. Get back to what you’re putting off and come back in 25 minutes.
Procrastination can be seen as performing one task when you know you should be doing another1. The current version of you knows completing some work or going for a run will be great but that’s later. Right now social media and junk food seem like so much fun.
Whether we like it or not, procrastination is part of life. Everyone struggles with it at some point. The key is identifying it and having a plan in place to overcome it. Below are 7 tips you can take today to get back on track.
How often do you forget to brush your teeth first thing in the morning? You’ve probably been doing it for years. As such, you’ve created a routine. Routines are a great way to teach your brain to perform tasks without your thinking mind having the chance to interrupt.
By taking the time to build habits and routines around work and exercise, you develop a system where you just perform the tasks. There is no space for procrastination in your habits.
Use small steps
As we’ve mentioned before, small steps can be used to achieve big results. They can also be your gateway out of procrastination. By making something so easy you’re almost tricking yourself into doing it. Combine these small steps with a reward and you’ll be climbing your ladder of success in no time.
The Pomodoro Method is a great way to focus your attention for short periods of time. The idea is simple. You set a timer for 25 minutes. During this time, you work on your task without distractions. After the 25 minutes, give yourself a break. Scroll through Instagram, go for a walk whatever you want to do. After 5 minutes, get back to work.
In one hour you’ve completed 50 minutes of work. Now take 15 minutes to celebrate. Then repeat.
Don’t like the numbers, that’s fine too. Adjust them to suit you. Keep the work time below 45 minutes and the break below 10. The key is that during your working times, you must solely focus on work. Even if you stare at a blank screen for 25 minutes, you’re telling your brain that this is work time.
Get an accountability partner
When inaction is going to let somebody else down, procrastination is forgotten. If you’ve ever been to the gym, you’ll know it’s much easier to go if you plan time with a friend. Find a friend that has tasks or goals and talk to them about helping each other out. It’s amazing how much easier it is to complete something when there is a second person involved.
It’s also great because on the days when you’re really struggling you have someone to talk to that will motivate you to get on with the tasks.
If you’ve ever procrastinated on an assignment, you know that there comes a point when the pain of procrastination outweighs the pain of starting. It is at this point when it’s all systems go. The task you’ve been putting off must be done.
Set yourself small deadlines to keep you on top of the tasks. They will keep you focused and on target. If it helps, use an accountability partner or something else to make the deadline as real as you can. Having a consequence is great motivation.
Change your environment
Focusing is a lot easier when your distractions are out of sight. Designing your environment to support focus can be something as simple as hiding your phone during work times. If you spend time on the computer, use apps to block content and hide anything that is not relevant to the task at hand.
We return to James Clear for this idea. We live in a world that is so distracted, we’ve been told that unless you can multi-task you’re doomed. It is celebrated when you appear to perform multiple tasks at the same time. But Clear quite convincingly argues that ‘You can’t be great at one task if you’re constantly dividing your time.’1
Procrastination isn’t always bad
There is a way that you can use procrastination to your advantage. While this isn’t a way of telling yourself that you’re being productive, use the time when you’re avoiding tasks to do other things. Have you wanted to learn a language, build a skill or read more books?
Why not become a mindful procrastinator and use your time a little more wisely.
Something very interesting happens why you begin the task that you’ve been putting off. On most occasions, you discover that once you’re performing it, the effort is far less than you anticipated. You also get a sense of accomplishment because you’ve started and maybe even completed something that you were putting off for a long time.
Like any habit, procrastination can be beaten. It will take some planning and a lot of effort but by using the ideas above you’ll set yourself up for success. There will be days when you slip up and hours go by. Yet there will be days when you don’t slip up at all. As you build a ladder of consistency, procrastination will become part of your memory.