For some, procrastination is a frequent visitor, for others, it stays over as an uninvited guest.
To procrastinate is to spend our time doing nothing important and put away vital tasks until tomorrow.
But the thing is ‘tomorrow never comes’ and the deadline extends forever.
A serial procrastinator delays even the simplest tasks –
- Clearing out the trash
- Washing the dishes
- Cooking food
- Getting out of their couch
- Refusing to attend events or occasions
In short, a procrastinator puts off things and slacks away from any real work.
If you’ve been in familiar territory, we’ve got good news. It’s time to say goodbye to your procrastinating lifestyle.
Here are 9 ways to deal with procrastination.
1. Redo your Work Environment
A work desk is a sacred place and it must be free of distractions to ensure you don’t procrastinate.
Avoid keeping the following items on your work desk –
- Snacks and bits of food
- Crumpled Paper
- Dirty Coffee Mugs
- Candies and Sweets
- Personal Hygiene products
All of these items serve as distractions and make you lazy. When you prepare to work, your productive instincts should automatically ‘switch on’.
A clean work desk helps you concentrate better and prevents you from reaching out to any distracting pieces.
2. Listen to Motivational Music
The thing about motivation is it doesn’t stay long. And once it leaves our minds, we are back to our old procrastinating selves.
When you listen to motivational music or podcasts during segments of your day, you maintain a steady inflow of motivation.
Music also helps to reduce work stress and calm you down. Being emotional is linked with procrastination.
A good way to get a daily dose of motivational music is to create a playlist for work. If you don’t feel like creating a playlist there are plenty of artists that create relaxing music or focus-inducing sounds.
Here is a small list.
- Sounds of Nature – This playlist is ideal to soothe your mind; it almost feels like you’re working in a forest.
- Creative Music for Studying – A playlist perfect for getting in the mood to read or study.
- Uplifting Music for Positivity – In a bad mood? This playlist is great to calm you down.
- An Empowered Motivational Speech – Sometimes we need the right push to get back into the flow of things!
As you can see, there’s plenty of music and sounds to help you focus on your goal. Having music as your focus buddy is a great way to prevent procrastination.
3. Break down your Daily Tasks
People procrastinate not because they are lazy, but sometimes the task is too large to complete. And, it’s easier to give up.
Fortunately, no task is big enough that it can’t be broken down.
If you had a 50 kg rice bag to carry, would you be able to do it?
But imagine if you broke it down. Carry 5 kg bags 10 times or 10 kg bags over 5 times. Now the task seems reasonable
Any giant task is impossible at a glance. Breaking it down to reasonable milestones lets you finish those tasks.
The next time you receive a task that seems impossible. Break it down to its smallest form, and start hitting the milestones.
Here are a few examples –
- Can’t concentrate while reading a book? Try a podcast instead
- Impossible to work for 2-3 hours at a time? Work for an hour, take a break and get back again.
- Need to send 100 emails by the weekend? Break it down to 50 emails a day and 5 emails an hour.
- Must complete a writing goal of 10,000 words a month? Simplify it to 350 words a day to hit your goal.
- Have a tiring journey to commute to work every day? Listen to the radio or play a game to ease your journey.
The answer is to break down tasks and you’ll start working towards them.
4. Aim to Achieve your Deadlines
One of the biggest reasons we procrastinate through our deadlines is because of a faulty mindset.
When we have a deadline, our minds assume everything can be completed in the last few days. So, why begin work from day 1?
It’s easier to put off tasks for the next day than to do them today. A chain of putting off duties leads to anxiety as the deadline approaches.
When we are anxious, we produce work at double the rate and half the quality.
Over time, our work quality suffers and clients suffer from inferior work output.
Paste a sticky note over your work desk that reads – “Deadlines are Sacred”.
Not fulfilling your deadlines is equivalent to killing your career in one swift blow.
The first step to delivering on time is by starting your work on Day 1. Ignore all other voices in your head and stick to the task at hand.
Promise to pamper yourself with quality time if you make the deadline.
5. Incentivize Yourself
Reward yourself every time you complete a task, no matter how small it is.
Worked for 4 hours straight? Great! Give yourself 2 extra hours of personal time.
Managed to take out the trash and wash the dishes? Order your favorite snack!
The bigger the tasks, the better the rewards.
You could also create a ‘Reward Journal’. Give yourself a series of tasks and write down the rewards next to them.
Here’s an example –
- Complete Daily Task – Reward: Take 1 hour of the day doing what you love
- Complete Weekly Goals – Reward: A Pizza Treat!
- Complete Monthly Goals – Buy 1 item from your Amazon’s wish list
A bit of warning though. Don’t over-reward yourself for simple goals, this causes you to burn your savings. Instead, only reward yourself with free time and small treats.
Treat yourself to something big only if you complete the impossible(all monthly tasks) and it doesn’t affect your monthly budget.
6. Start with the Hardest Task First
Alright, so you’ve written down your daily tasks and are wondering which one to strike off first.
That’s easy. Start with the one you hate the most and the one that takes the longest to complete.
If your to-do list of the day was –
- Writing Task (2 hours)
- Walk the Dog (10 minutes)
- Wash Dishes (20 minutes)
- Clean Home (45 minutes)
You start with your writing task, tidy your home, wash the dishes, and finally walk the dog. In that order.
Starting with the toughest task lets you get it out of the way. It lets the other less difficult tasks seem reasonable to finish.
Leaving your toughest task till the end of the day is a sure way of inviting procrastination back into your life. There’s a good chance you’ll put it off for the next day.
7. Use Time Blocks
Timing yourself every hour is a great way to prevent procrastination from showing its ugly head.
Google Calendar is an app that is excellent to add hourly activities as well as daily/weekly/monthly stuff.
Simply add your tasks in the preferred time slot and get reminded when it’s time.
Time blocks let you focus on the task at hand and keep the pressure of time against you. This lets you remain focused on the job and eliminates distractions.
8. Avoid Long Breaks
Procrastinators reward themselves with long breaks for even the smallest task they perform.
If you gave yourself a 2-hour break for picking up the mail, you’re a chronic procrastinator.
Usually, when you take a long break, you lose focus on the task at hand and proceed to do mundane things like watching videos on YouTube or chilling on Netflix.
The mind lets itself go wild if you don’t put a leash on it.
The best bet is to give yourself reasonable breaks of 5-15 minutes. Use your break time to walk, stretch, or grab a quick snack.
Don’t use this time to get on social media or call your friend. Gossiping is the dotting little brother of procrastination.
Breaks are great to eliminate burnout from work. But shouldn’t be used as an escape route towards procrastination.
The solution is to time your breaks.
9. Remain Accountable to Yourself
With all said and done, the bottom line is procrastination is a serious offense to yourself. It prevents you from achieving the good things in life while allowing you to be satisfied with a poor lifestyle.
If you don’t have someone keeping a check on you, it’s wise to be your own guardian.
Stay accountable to yourself by doing the following –
- Ensure a majority of your daily tasks are completed
- If you have an important event – prioritize it over other things
- Never compromise sleep for mundane activities like internet surfing, gaming, or gossiping
- Deadlines must always be honored
- Be grateful for your life and loved ones
- Love yourself!
Taking action is easier said than done. Don’t just promise yourself that you’ll do it tomorrow – instead do it then and there.
The only way to beat procrastination is by refining your willpower.
Think of procrastination as the little imp in your head that refuses to act and denies any priority that comes your way.
Now, ask yourself do you forever want to be at the mercy of this spoiled imp? Or take charge of your life and reach your life goals?
Everyone needs a reality check to assess their situation in life. Once that’s done, it’s a matter of putting their foot forward and making the necessary changes to stop procrastination forever.
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