Procrastination is something that affects all of us from time to time. I believe that oftentimes when we procrastinate, it’s because we’re not doing work that we truly enjoy.
While procrastinating is just a part of being human, it can have a negative impact on your life if you allow it to become a habit. I want to share some of my favorite tips for overcoming procrastination.
1. Start by Working on Smaller Tasks
I believe that one of the best things to do when you have activities to complete is to start small.
When you start small, it makes it easier to get started, and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment once you’ve completed the activity. As you accomplish smaller tasks, it’ll become easier to take things a step further in accomplishing the big stuff.
Another thing you can do when working on smaller tasks is to reward yourself with a small treat once you’ve completed the task.
When you do this, it’ll give you something to look forward to when you’re finished. The website, Developing Good Habits has a list of 155 Ways to Reward Yourself for Completing a Task or Goal.
Furthermore, you can also give yourself small “punishments” if you don’t complete the task. For example, you aren’t allowed to watch an episode of your favorite T.V. show until the work is complete.
To take things a step forward, keep yourself accountable by sharing this with a friend or family member. Sharing your goals and the punishment you’ve set for yourself can have a positive effect on ensuring that you finish your work.
It’s easy to reward ourselves, but it’s a different story when it comes to the punishment part.
By including others in on it, if you don’t complete your tasks, you’ll have someone there to make sure you don’t watch T.V. until the activity is complete.
2. Eliminate Distractions
For many of us, things like social media and YouTube can be very distracting when we’re trying to get work done. It’s easy to find yourself scrolling mindlessly through Instagram or checking your friends’ update status on Facebook.
When working on a task, you’d be surprised how much work you can get done when you eliminate distractions. StayFocusd is a Chrome extension that limits how much time you spend on time-wasting websites.
3. Make a To-Do List
Creating a to-do list is a great way to stay organized when you have a list of things you need to accomplish.
Not to count, checking items off your list as you complete them can give you a sense of accomplishment by showing that you’re actually making progress.
When creating a to-do list, make sure you don’t overdo it with tasks, as you could end up overwhelming yourself and not accomplishing anything at all.
A powerful tool for organizing your to-do list is the Eisenhower Matrix (also referred to as Urgent-Important Matrix). The Eisenhower Matrix was inspired by United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and it helps you prioritize tasks by urgency and importance.
The Eisenhower Matrix categorizes tasks into 4 quadrants: important and urgent, important and not urgent, urgent and not important, and not urgent and not important.
4. Take Care of Yourself
Sometimes when I find myself procrastinating, it’s because I’m tired and need rest, or because I’ve been working on a project nonstop without taking a break and focusing on my mental health.
When lack of self-care is the issue, it’s important that you allow yourself to rest. Disconnect and take a nap, watch a movie, read a book, or go for a nice calming walk. Consider meditating, or sitting down with a nice cup of tea. Take some time to focus on yourself.
After you’ve allowed yourself to rest, you should be able to come back to your work refreshed.
5. Try to Find the Joy in It
When you think of the work that needs to be done as stressful, overwhelming, or difficult, naturally, you’ll find that procrastinating is easy to do.
Try changing your mindset about the work you need to complete, even if it means tricking your brain. Tell yourself that this is work that you look forward to doing, and you may find yourself looking forward to the work!
The trick here is to find happiness in the activity. Don’t go into the activity feeling dread. Instead, think of how privileged you are to be able to do the work you get to do.
Become fully immersed in each moment, and stay positively mindful of the experience. In time, your brain will begin to program itself to be excited about the activity you need to complete.
Breaking the habit of procrastination isn’t easy. However, with the right tools and mindset, you’ll find that it becomes easier and maybe even fun to accomplish what needs to be done.