Many of us are no strangers to procrastination. No matter how hard we try, sometimes it’s just easier to put things off until later. Unfortunately, procrastination can sometimes lead to other unpleasant experiences. Stress, worry, and anxiety are the byproducts of procrastination.
If you’re a chronic procrastinator, know that you’re not alone. Everyone has tasks that they’d rather avoid, but not everyone procrastinates. In this article, we’ll discuss different strategies for overcoming procrastination and helpful tips for how to stay motivated, focused, and productive.
- Procrastination vs. Laziness
- Strategies for Overcoming Procrastination
- You Can Overcome Procrastination
Procrastination vs. Laziness
Procrastination is unnecessarily delaying decisions or actions. It’s done by almost everyone, and most of us experience it during our lifetimes. However, as frustrating as it can be, it’s still a constant occurrence for some people.
Despite their good faith and intentions, procrastinators will avoid taking action, even knowing that doing so could have negative repercussions. Or their delay in action can be unintentional.
Laziness, on the other hand, is different from procrastination. Laziness is a voluntary choice to avoid actions. Those who suffer from laziness have no interest in accomplishing goals or tasks, no matter the consequences. They’ve made a conscious choice.
The main difference between the two is that procrastination unnecessarily delays action, while laziness is voluntarily choosing to not exert any effort to achieve a goal or complete a task.
Strategies for Overcoming Procrastination
There are several strategies for overcoming procrastination. One or more will help you kick the procrastination habit and have more productive days.
Acknowledging that you have a problem is the first step to overcoming procrastination. This may not seem like an important step, but it’s crucial. Accepting that you put off tasks you don’t want to do for whatever reason can help focus your mind. Understanding that you have an issue with starting or finishing jobs is part of overcoming it.
It’s possible to retrain your mind and accept that there’s a better way to do things. When you’re aware that you have a task that needs to be started or completed, take note of the things preventing you from following through.
Are you doing something urgent that’s stopping you from the other task, or are you using it as an excuse to step away from what needs to be accomplished? Being aware that you’re a procrastinator can help to change your tendency to not start or complete required tasks. You may feel that you’re just easily distracted when you’re a chronic procrastinator.
2. Figure Out Why
Once you’ve acknowledged that you’re a procrastinator, the next step is to figure out why. Take a look at your to-do list, either on paper or mentally, and identify which tasks you leave uncompleted or not even started. Understanding why you put off certain chores or tasks can help you to overcome your procrastination towards them.
Most procrastinators tend to put off tasks that they find boring, difficult, unpleasant, or stressful. Certain jobs can cause anxiety, another reason some put them off for as long as possible. Identifying which emotion these tasks are associated with can help to overcome the problem.
One of the strategies for overcoming procrastination is to attach meaning to the task. If a particular task is difficult and you constantly put off its completion, try to see it more as a challenge than as a difficulty. Attaching new meanings to jobs can change the way you view them.
3. Get Moving
Sometimes the most challenging part of accomplishing a task or a chore is starting it. We experience stress at the mere thought of what we have to do. We quickly create unrealistic justifications for why we should put it off until later, knowing they’re invalid excuses.
Diving straight into that thing we don’t want to do is a hurdle that must be crossed. Once a project or task is started, even those jobs we aren’t particularly interested in get easier. If it doesn’t feel easier, it’s at least not as horrible as we had imagined it would be.
Forward movement creates momentum, and once a task we’ve put off for a while has been started, it becomes much easier to power through it. Stay focused, and soon you’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel.
4. Remove Distractions
Distractions make it easy to justify not starting or completing tasks. One of the most tempting distractions is our phones and access to social media.
Many of us are guilty of the Pavlovian effect of immediately reaching for our mobile devices each time we hear a notification. For chronic procrastinators, this is the kiss of death. Once the device is picked up, it’s far too easy to fall into the rabbit hole of endless scrolling.
The temptation to pick up the phone to check notifications can be overwhelming for some. Turning off your phone and putting it out of sight can be beneficial when it’s necessary to focus on a task or project.
For procrastinators who work in a brick-and-mortar office, closing your office door could help to eliminate co-workers from distracting you with unnecessary small talk. Placing yourself in an interruption-free zone could be all needed to avoid distractions and end your procrastination.
5. Allow for Scheduled Breaks
It’s essential to allocate a block of time for each task or assignment, but it’s also equally important to schedule breaks. Breaks can be seen as a reward for accomplishing a goal or getting closer to completing it. Breaks are important to keep your mind and body fresh and adequately rested.
After an hour or more of working on a task, give yourself a chance to cool off and refresh. This is not the time to pick up your phone and play.
A more productive way of taking a quick break is to completely step away from the task. If it’s work-related, remove yourself from the workspace. Go outside and get some fresh air. A vigorous walk, even for a few minutes, can invigorate you to complete your current task or move on to the next one.
6. Set Priorities
Having a written to-do list can help to see what your priorities are. Physically writing them down on paper can help you focus on what needs to be done.
For those tasks with a firm deadline, highlight those and list them in the order they’re due. Remind yourself of the possible repercussions of not completing them on time. This could include getting a lower grade on a school assignment that’s handed in late or not getting a work promotion due to not meeting goals on time.
For some, it can be helpful to tackle the biggest projects first. Getting them out of the way can lessen stress and the anxiety they cause as they remain unfinished.
Getting those problematic or undesirable tasks done early in the day can provide another benefit. Once that job you kept putting off can be checked off your to-do list, it could provide the motivation to get other tasks completed.
7. Focus on a Single Task
Procrastinators are notorious for starting several tasks and bouncing back and forth between them.
Each time they feel frustrated or unmotivated over their current job, they switch gears and move on to something else. This can be counterproductive and hinders accomplishing any of them. Even a short break of a minute or two to check something unnecessary will only prolong the time it takes to complete your current task.
If a single task can be broken down into smaller, more manageable steps that are easier to complete, this tactic can help. Small victories can assist in completing the entire task. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
8. Reward Yourself
It’s essential to recognize your achievements, no matter how small. Give yourself a small reward if you’ve put off doing the dishes sitting in the sink for hours or days. Patting yourself on the back for jobs well done, especially those you despise and put off, can help provide motivation.
Rewarding yourself for completing a task doesn’t have to be an elaborate treat. If you’ve been putting off doing the laundry, tell yourself that once it’s washed, dried, and folded, you can sit down for a few minutes and enjoy a treat.
9. Accept That You’re Not Perfect
Even the most hard-working and efficient people will fall short now and then. Procrastinators who are making progress with getting more done will also have off days.
Feeling guilty over not accomplishing your entire to-do list can be counterproductive. Celebrate your victories and accept that you may not complete everything you’ve set out to do on any given day. It’s crucial to consistently try to not put things off.
Give yourself permission to make mistakes. Procrastinators who are also perfectionists have issues with every task, chore, or assignment being done to absolute perfection. Thoughts like these can feed to need to procrastinate. Having unrealistic goals of perfection is counterproductive. Accept your faults but continue to do the best that you can.
Chronic procrastinators need to remember that imperfect action is worlds better than no action at all. Even baby steps are steps that are moving in the right direction. With practice, small steps become bigger ones. The commitment to overcoming procrastination can be a great motivator.
10. Increase Your Motivation
Tracking your victories is a helpful technique to keep you motivated to accomplish your tasks. This can include recording how many hours you’ve been able to stay focused on your jobs or how many days or weeks you’ve crossed off everything on your to-do list. Tracking accomplishments visually can help to keep you motivated.
Other motivation techniques include keeping your work environment pleasant and inviting. Removing unnecessary clutter from your workspace can do wonders. Adding your favorite music also assists with motivating you to get things done.
For some, soothing or comforting music can help to set the mood to get tasks completed. Others may need more uplifting and energetic tunes to keep their stamina high.
You Can Overcome Procrastination
There are many different strategies for overcoming procrastination. Not all of them will work for everyone. The key is to find what works for you and continue using these tools to your advantage.
To-do lists, setting priorities, and scheduling blocks of time work for most people. Identifying why you procrastinate can also be helpful. Removing distractions like mobile devices and social media can also be of great value.