Procrastination is something we all experience to a certain extent. Whether we procrastinate by watching an extra episode of our favorite show on Netflix, or spend our time procrastinating, anxiously thinking about what needs to get done- it’s a hard obstacle to overcome.
“With 88% of the workforce admitting that they procrastinate at least once a day, it’s safe to say this is a widespread issue.”
The reasons we choose to procrastinate are complex, and usually individualized. It may be from too many distractions, a lack of interest in our current occupation or schooling, or fear. Whatever it is, procrastination can cause problems for anyone. Although there is not one simple trick or solution to “cure” procrastination, there are a few helpful tips out there that might work for you. But before trying out these tips, there are also some things to consider when thinking about overcoming procrastination.
- A major part of facing procrastination, is the sole act of recognizing that we’re engaging in. Once you achieve that level of awareness (which is no small feat), try to become aware of why you are procrastinating. As mentioned, we procrastinate for a lot of different reasons. Recognize the specific things that are leading you to procrastinate: your habits, schedule, thoughts. However, once you get a gage on why this is happening, you will have a much better start to addressing how to stop it.
- The next thing to consider is your feelings. Assess how you feel when you procrastinate. Assess how you feel when you have a productive day. Assess how these feelings are tied to procrastination in your life. More time than not, our feelings have a major impact on our actions. Once you assess how your feelings are playing a role in this cycle, you can utilize these tips accordingly.
- The final thing to look at in terms of procrastination is your overall outlook. What do you want to get out of your day? What do you want to get out of completing this one task? Do you feel like it’s impossible to get everything done by a certain time? Do you feel like you have all the time in the world, and feel no rush to start working on whatever it is that you need to accomplish? Your outlook may be affecting why it is that you’re procrastinating. Altering this outlook may in turn be a helpful step in overcoming procrastination.
Now that you’ve given some thought as to why you’re procrastinating, check out these tips that may you help in the process.
- Make a list and break it down
- When you’re feeling extremely overwhelmed, you may hit a wall and not even know where to begin. Making a list is not only is the first step in starting to do something, but can ease certain anxieties and create a starting point for you. An important part of creating this list is really breaking it down into individualized steps. What does each task entail? Put every step on that list! This way, you can cross things off as you go and don’t see putting in work as getting the entire thing done.
- Eliminate Distractions
- Even though this may be difficult, in today’s world- we have endless distractions available to us at all times: social media, TV, our phones, our pets, music, other household members etc. Creating a space where you aren’t tempted by the various other things you could be doing will limit that temptation. When you decide to get started on your list, try to find a space where you can commit to being focused and aren’t around things that can take you away from whatever needs to get done.
- “Easy” Tasks First
- When you’re making your list, add your “easy” tasks first! It may be responding to an email or making your bed. Once you have crossed off some things from your list, you’re already in a mentality of getting things done… so, why not keep going? If you try to get your most difficult task done first, you may begin to feel defeated and revert back to procrastinating. In addition, once your easy tasks are done, your list will look less intimidating and you may feel an urge to just finish it off.
- Power Hour
- Forbes writer, Vanessa Loder, suggests a “Power Hour” for those who struggle with procrastination. She describes a power hour as an hour that consists of “putting away all distractions and working in concentrated chunks of time”. She mentions twenty minute intervals, followed by short periods of rest, to harness optimal performance of your brain and body. This technique may be especially useful if you find it difficult to concentrate for extended periods of time. It’s hard to focus when you’re feeling drained, so this might be a perfect method to make sure when you get done to it, you’re energized and ready.
- Treat Yourself!
- The final suggestion for all the procrastinators out there is to treat yourself. As discussed, we all struggle with procrastination. That being said, getting things done is an accomplishment, and sometimes you deserve a treat to acknowledge that. As you complete tasks from your list, give yourself a little reward. This could be 10 minutes on your phone, an episode of your favorite show, your favorite snack- whatever entices you. And when it comes to the bigger things, make a plan that excites you! Having something to look forward to is like the light at the end of the tunnel. It will give you motivation to finish what you’re doing, and add something positive to this difficult, dreaded task.
At the end of the day, procrastination is normal. But it is important to seek out whatever tools you have available to try to work on it. Procrastination comes with some difficult feelings, sometimes severe as anxiety and depression. Procrastinating does not equate to being lazy. We live in a high pressure society, and it is perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed by the idea of getting started.
If you’re beginning to feel like procrastination is taking over your time and life, try out some of these tips to overcome it.