At some point in time, procrastination plagues us all, some more than others, but everyone at some point gets a bite from the bug. We’ve all heard the quote, “Why put off till tomorrow what you can do today?” For some of us, this is the only motivation we need, while others struggle with putting things off for weeks, months, or even years.
Procrastination doesn’t have to be a way of life for you; you can overcome it. With a little focus and the right attitude, coupled with some practical tips and techniques, procrastination can be a thing of the past.
Here are five strategies you can use today to help you bite the procrastination bug back:
1. Set small goals.
Many times, we feel overwhelmed with a task, so we continue to put it off until we have no choice but to complete it. Now throw on all the new projects we received while we were putting off the first project, and you have a prime equation for some serious procrastination. Setting small, quickly achievable goals can help you avoid procrastinating in the first place so you don’t get overwhelmed.
Here are some tips for setting those small goals:
- Break your big project up into smaller steps. These steps can be completed systematically one at a time. Make sure you have well-defined end points for each smaller goal, that way you have something to keep you going.
- Setting small goals provides you a nonstop feeling of accomplishment as they’re attained. With each individual success, you feel better about yourself, and this motivates you to continue.
- Giving yourself break points allows you to focus on each individual task and takes the overwhelming feeling out of the job. In addition, they give you a prime place to get up, move around, and refresh yourself for the next step.
2. Avoid distractions.
We all do it. We sit down to start working, but have to get back up and grab some coffee. Then we sit back down and check email, then voicemail, and then email again just to make sure no one sent a message while we were checking the voicemail. How long did that take?
- Try checking your email only twice a day instead of every 5 minutes. You need to have some time to focus!
- Get everything you want, need or think you need before you sit down to start working so you can concentrate.
Start giving some of your responsibilities to others instead of hogging them for yourself and creating more stress. Stress leads to procrastination, procrastination leads to tight deadlines, and tight deadlines lead to more stress; it’s a vicious cycle.
4. Keep a list.
A constant reminder of the things you absolutely need to do is a great way to avoid procrastination. A small pocket notebook or even a note card works wonders for list keeping.
- Keeping a list puts your daily to-dos in front of you at all times for quick reference.
- Include your small goals on your list. Get started early each day completing those small, easy goals. Doesn’t it feel great to scratch through the things you’ve completed? Before you know it, the whole list is marked off!
5. Turn work off.
When you’re done for the day, shut down everything work related. Don’t take it home if you can help it. Turn your brain off at the end of your workday. By giving your brain a break, you help avoid over exhaustion and keep your mind fresh for the next day.
- Spend some time doing the things you love to recharge your batteries for the next day.
Pick one or two of these techniques and try them out for three weeks. Studies have shown it takes 21 days to form a habit and if you truly want to beat procrastination, you have to make productivity a habit.
When you’ve made a habit of one of the strategies, pick out another one, and before you know it, you’ll be the personification of productive!