By Ojo Precious
Procrastination is a habit – a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior. This means that you probably can’t break it overnight. Habits only stop being habits when you avoid practicing them. So, try as many of the strategies, below, as possible to give yourself the best possible chance of succeeding.
Forgive yourself for past procrastination: Self-forgiveness can help you feel more positive about yourself and reduce the likelihood of procrastination in the future.
Commit to the task: Focus on doing, not avoiding. Write down the tasks that you need to complete, and specify a time for doing them. This will help you to proactively tackle your work.
Promise yourself a reward. If you complete a difficult task on time, reward yourself with a treat, such as a slice of cake or some cookies. Make sure you notice how good it feels to finish things!
Ask someone to check up on you: Peer pressure works-definitely not negative ones, this is the principle behind self-help groups. If you don’t have anyone to ask, an online tool such as Procraster can help you to self-monitor.
Act as you go: Tackle tasks as soon as they arise, rather than letting them build up over another day. Rephrase your internal dialog. The phrases “need to” and “have to,” for example, imply that you have no choice in what you do.
This can make you feel disempowered and might even result in self-sabotage. However, saying, “I choose to,” implies that you own a project, and can make you feel more in control of your workload.
Minimize distractions: Turn off your email and social media, and avoid sitting anywhere near a television while you work! Aim to “eat an elephant beetle” first thing, every day! Get those tasks that you find least pleasant out of the way early. This will give you the rest of the day to concentrate on work that you find more enjoyable.
An alternative approach is to embrace “the art of delay.” Research shows that “active procrastination” – that is, deliberately delaying getting started on something so you can focus on other urgent tasks – can make you feel more challenged and motivated to get things done. This strategy can work particularly well if you are someone who thrives under pressure.
If you’re procrastinating because you find a task unpleasant, try to focus on the “long game.” Impulsive people are more likely to procrastinate because they are focused on short-term gain. Combat this by identifying the long-term benefits of completing the task. For instance, could it affect your annual performance review or end-of-year bonus?
Another way to make a task more enjoyable is to identify the unpleasant consequences of avoiding it. For instance, what will happen if you don’t complete the work? How might it affect your personal, team or organizational goals?
At the same time, it can be useful to reframe the task by looking at its meaning and relevance . This will increase its value to you and make your work more worthwhile. It’s also important to acknowledge that we can often overestimate the unpleasantness of a task. So give it a try! You may find that it’s not as bad as you thought, after all!
If you procrastinate because you’re disorganized, here are six strategies to help you get organized:
Keep a To-Do List: This will prevent you from “conveniently” forgetting about those unpleasant or overwhelming tasks.
Prioritize your To-Do List using important Principle. This will enable you to quickly identify the activities that you should focus on, as well as the ones you can ignore.
Set yourself time-bound goals: Setting yourself specific deadlines to complete tasks will keep you on track to achieve your goals, and will mean that you have no time for procrastination.
Use task- and time-management apps: There are numerous apps designed to help you stay more organized. If you’re prone to delaying projects because you find them overwhelming, try breaking them down into more manageable chunks. Organize your projects into smaller tasks and focus on starting them, rather than on finishing them.
Alternatively, you can create an Action Plan to organize your project. Start with quick and small tasks first. These “small wins” will give you a sense of achievement, and will make you feel more positive and less overwhelmed by the larger project or goal that you are working towards.
Procrastination can restrict your potential and undermine your career: It can also disrupt teamwork, reduce morale, and even lead to depression and job loss. So, it’s crucial to take proactive steps to prevent it.
The first step to overcoming procrastination is to recognize that you’re doing it. Then, identify the reasons behind your behavior and use appropriate strategies to manage and overcome it.
I hope this will be helpful to someone out there, get up and start moving, time waits for no one.