How To Stop Procrastinating
Procrastination is the thief of time. Even if you think you are being clever by delaying a sticky task until you are in a better frame of mind, you have made a rod for your own back. With even less time to complete something that was already challenging, you’ve just added more stress to completing the job. You can’t win but you still manage to convince yourself that procrastination will pay off in some way, somehow, when it is best avoided completely. Luckily, with a little refocusing you can get out of the habit of putting off until tomorrow what is best done today.
Accept Your Limitations
Everyone is gifted with different sets of skills and we all have our limitations. The fact that some people perform best under stress doesn’t mean everyone can. If you are someone who just can’t perform up to the mark at the last moment then the sensible thing to do is plan your tasks ahead of time and avoid the last minute stress. Keep diary planners with you or find another way to keep track of what you need to do. This will raise your performance level and save you from unnecessary anxiety. Learn how to accept your limitations and you can perform well despite them.
Discourage Procrastinating Urges
The urge to procrastinate or delay a task is quite natural. It’s a desire we all experience from time to time. The key is to discourage all such urges and not fall prey to these thoughts. There might be a little pleasure or relaxation in avoiding a task but it usually remains lurking in the back of your mind as an anxiety so that nothing is gained from your procrastination.
Eliminate The Sources Of Distraction
Once you have committed to perform a task the best favor you can do to yourself is to remove all sources of distraction. If the task is on your computers or notebooks, close all unrelated tabs and focus solely on the desired work. This will increase your performance and remove the distractions that could cause you to procrastinate.
In the physical world eliminating sources of distraction are more difficult but you can achieve it by at least keeping your working space free from undesired material and by keeping your phone out of sight. This will help you in focus better and eliminate the opportunity to avoid the task and take advantage unnecessary delays. You can even consider wearing wireless headphones to eliminate outside distractions, but you have to use this trick carefully or else you will more distracted and find it difficult to concentrate.
Apply The Pomodoro Technique
One effective way of getting rid of procrastination is the Pomodoro technique. According to this technique set a time limit for each task and give yourself a short break as a reward. For instance, work for half an hour giving the task your full attention and then spend 5 minutes on a more favorable task like browsing the web or checking your messages.
It has two benefits. First, the reward itself will motivate you to perform the task well and avoid procrastination. Secondly, by setting time limits, you will have a clear picture of the work ahead and won’t feel overwhelmed by the mere thought of the work to help with being on time and avoid procrastinating.
Asking someone to hold you accountable for uncompleted tasks helps defeat procrastination. Tell a friend or colleague about your committed task and ask them to inquire how you are progressing as the deadline approaches. This pseudo accountability will help keep you focused on avoiding delays.
Public announcements of your self-administered tasks are another useful tactic against procrastination as the publically failing to reach designated targets dominates the procrastination urge and avoidance thoughts to keep you on the track.
Keep Your Workspace Clean
Keeping your workspace clean and free from clutter also helps keep you focused. The unnecessary material on the desk can be a distraction that keeps you from your tasks and delays the completion of work.
A clean and tidy workplace is more welcoming and motivates the worker to work more efficiently. Adding proper lightening and comfortable seating will yield added benefits. Keeping your workspace organized with the equipment you use most handy will also eliminate the chances of distraction and avoidance.
Teaming Up Is Better Than Working Individually
If you are working on a project that might be of interest to any of your friends or colleague then it’s better to team up with them. Teaming up keeps you focused on the task at hand and adds an element of accountability. Teaming up exerts peer pressure and bounds you to start the work on time and meet deadlines to avoid disappointing colleagues.
Don’t Aim For Perfection
When people commit to a task, they often seek perfection. Striving for perfection is itself stressful and often leads to negative self-thoughts around not attaining the desired level. Such negative thoughts are a leading cause of procrastination. These pessimistic thoughts make you doubt yourself and your ability and add to the motivation to avoid or delay a task.
Never aim for perfection but allow yourself a margin for mistakes. Assure yourself that even if you don’t meet the standard of perfection you’re aiming for then it’s not the end of the world. You can always review your work when it’s done and eliminate imperfections and correct mistakes. This way you will end up in good results and meet deadlines too.
Follow The 2-Minute Rule
The most difficult phase of a challenging task is to overcome the fear and get started. The two-minute rule, as suggested by the famous writer James Clear, is very effective in getting rid of overwhelming thoughts at the very beginning of a new task.
The two-minute rule says that instead of overviewing the whole task convince yourself to do it for just two minutes. These two minutes are often enough to overcome the inertia of just starting and immerse you into the flow of the work. Once started, a task is easier to carry forward and eliminates the majority of doubts that were there in the beginning.
Keep Plan B Ready in Mind
Our plans sometimes don’t work the way they are anticipated. Sometimes there is the intervention of some more important tasks and occasionally there may be natural distractions which get in the way of the completion of your task on time.
These unplanned interruptions lead to anxiety and create stress which impacts on your performance. To overcome this issue, always keep a plan B ready in mind for you to execute in case of emergency. This will help you in viewing the whole situation clearly and objectively so you are able to handle the situation effectively without undue stress.
The Two Major Reasons For Procrastination
Following certain tips will help stop you procrastinating, but it is important to identify main reasons for procrastination to handle the issue in a better way.
The Thrill Of Last Minute Tasks
Some people are adventurous and they find working a last minute thrilling. They often submit their assignments at the eleventh hour and book their tickets when only the last few seats are left. They are risk takers in their life and seem to suffer no lasting issues or ill effects from their last minute approach to life. Not everyone is as fortunate.
To get rid of this kind of attitude retrain your mind. Perform a few everyday chores at the last minute one day and next day perform the same tasks with complete planning and at scheduled time. You will notice the difference in the routine of both days and will find your day more organized and productive when planned ahead. Apply this principle to your bigger and important tasks to improve your performance scale.
The Fear of Being Successful
Some people are fearful of being over successful. They visualize that once they have demonstrated success at a difficult task they will be expected to perform to the same high level on all subsequent tasks. For many reasons, they doubt they will be able to meet expectations and fulfill demands placed on them once promoted. They assume, incorrectly perhaps, that being successful means a complete change in lifestyle.
To get rid of this mental state, you have to admit that life is full of uncertainties and there is no guarantee of being unsuccessful as there is no guarantee of being successful. Convince yourself to at least a try since most people are able to go with the flow on something challenging once they have started. Remind yourself that you succeeded because you have the potential and you worked hard and that you can overcome the challenges.
With a little retraining of the old grey matter, instead of giving yourself a hundred and one reasons to not to start a tricky task straight away, you can completely over turn the negative thinking that allows procrastination to win. Instead of believing you can relax before you start, picture yourself relaxing at the end when it’s complete and you’re reveling in the satisfaction of a job well done. Win against procrastination just once by start a task right away and it can be your motivation for getting down to work straight away over and over again.