Procrastination isn’t your problem only. It’s a universal problem that is spreading like a plague. In our previous post, we discussed the reasons why we procrastinate, today we will discuss how to stop procrastinating.
Oftentimes, people find themselves procrastinating when they’re aware that they shouldn’t. The worst thing is, procrastination goes beyond work and can negatively impact other areas of your life. Avoiding doing a home repair can leave you surviving during the cold seasons.
Avoiding solving a problem only makes it worse. Putting off a crucial life decision, such as going back to college, marriage, divorce, or changing a career path, can result in many wasted years. So, how can you stop procrastinating for good? Here is how to stop procrastinating:
Whether it’s a deadline on the calendar or a chore on your to-do list, you’re more likely to pay attention to what’s important right now. However, it’s more difficult to prioritize tasks, which are not urgent. From saving for retirement to organizing your house, you probably have things you avoid getting around to. Therefore, both small and big tasks stay ignored at the bottom of your numerous to-do lists for weeks, months, or even years.
Consider the bigger picture, instead. People are wired to think about the present needs more than about future needs. This phenomenon is known as temporal discounting and it can trigger procrastination. If you’re putting off the things that you should do today to improve tomorrow, it means you might recognize the present moment only. To be exact, you pay attention to your emotions right now without recognizing any possible consequences of your procrastinating habit.
For instance, you need to complete a big project this week and you know that your boss will get angry if you miss the deadline. Despite realizing this fact, you just delay the project because you don’t feel like doing it today, tomorrow… and when the deadline comes, you start feeling anxious and angry at yourself. The next time you put off something, think about the possible consequences or wonderful reward waiting for you if you do a task on time.
As banal as it sounds, the baby steps still work. When you have a long to-do list jam-packed with the tasks you hate, procrastination can appear in a blink. When looking at your to-do list, you might feel disorganized, confused, and overwhelmed, and it’s okay. Allow yourself to experience all those feelings, take a few deep breaths, and check out your list again.
Prioritize the tasks you need to do urgently and write a short plan for each. Each task should feature a number of baby steps that you could take without putting anything off for tomorrow. The biggest challenge almost every procrastinator faces is the beginning. They have difficulty starting doing something and once they start, they do the task perfectly and on time.
The first step is tricky, yet once you take it, you’ll find the courage to banish your negative thoughts and worries and do what you need or have to do. Procrastination isn’t about hating or avoiding the task, after all. It’s about shying away from negative emotions and feelings.
If you don’t like the task, you might replace it with another one. For instance, you need to complete the project, but you’re cleaning your room or volunteering at an animal shelter. While cleaning is essential and helping animals is amazing, you don’t have to use these tasks just to avoid another one. No matter how much you dislike the task, you’ll have to do it anywhere. If you do it right away, you won’t spend a week or so worrying about how and when to do it.
Statistics show that perfectionists are more prone to procrastinate than other people. Perfectionism might be helpful in some situations, but in general, it leads to self-destruction. High standards can help you perform better at work, but due to them you can procrastinate. Instead of completing the task and start another one, you keep dwelling on that first task trying to make it perfectly perfect. The truth is, nothing can be perfectly perfect.
Don’t be so hard on yourself and allow yourself to make mistakes. Of course, it doesn’t mean you should do the task in a slipshod way. However, perfectionists blow off most tasks and projects because they’re sure that there’s no way they can meet the high standards they set for themselves.
Overly high demands will only slow you down and eventually affect your self-esteem. When your self-esteem is low, you’re more likely to have mood swings, anxiety, and depression. This will result in a habit of constantly putting off things since you don’t feel like doing anything.
Gone are the days where multitasking was a precious habit everyone strived to achieve. Single-tasking has been shown to increase productivity and reduce the likelihood of procrastination. If you have a long to-do list and you feel overwhelmed, without realizing where to start, aim to do one task at a time. Start with the most challenging task and put the energy into it.
Procrastinators spend most of their energy on excuses. No wonder they feel anxious and depressed. Instead of coming up with excuses, focus on actions. This way, you’ll fight anxiety and be satisfied with completed stuff at the end of the day.
Do you want to buy something? Is there any meal that makes you feel awesome? Do you like to travel? Think about how you can reward yourself after completing a certain task – especially if you don’t like it. Have a look at that task, take a few deep breaths, smile, and promise yourself that you’ll get a brilliant reward after you complete it on time. Make a list of the things that could make you happy and keep it handy when creating a to-do list. You can reward yourself for each completed task during the day.
Social media, smartphones, TVs, and gossiping have been reported to promote procrastination. Social media is considered the biggest source of negativity and jealousy. If you’re a very sensitive or jealous person, positive or negative news from your friends could spoil your mood and make you delay your work. One of the fastest ways to stop procrastinating is to get rid of distractions.
There are special apps, like AppDetox, that help to block distractions on smartphones. There are also apps, like Procraster, which help to identify the biggest sources of procrastination and provide tips on how to limit or eliminate them. The timer apps can also help you focus on work, not distractions.
If you like to listen to music while working, look for the sounds without lyrics. Songs with lyrics can reduce your concentration and evoke sad emotions, depending on what you’re listening. Consider listening to instrumental music to boost your focus and calm your mind.
If you have a phone addiction, consider breaking it. Phone addiction has been recognized as the biggest distraction in the offices. Turn off your phone in the office or leave it in another room if you’re working from home. Stop paying for mobile internet to avoid temptations or replace your modern gadget with an old-fashioned push-button phone. This method of fighting procrastination sounds disastrous but oftentimes it’s the only way to combat a phone addiction and increase the productivity levels.
When you’re surrounded with people who bring you down or who have a habit of procrastination, you’re more likely to procrastinate, as well. Some people could encourage you to procrastinate on purpose as they might want you to have problems at work. Negative people or pessimists can steal your energy, too.
See who surround you and how they affect your mindset and productivity. Imagine talking to Steve Jobs for at least 5 minutes. How would you feel? Chances are, you would get inspired to do every task on your list without any hesitation.
And now, imagine talking to a coworker who has always been envious of your success or your personal life. Her words can destroy your productivity and desire to work in a matter of a few minutes. Stay away from toxic people or at least limit your communication with them. Don’t let them steal your energy.
Each of us has various productivity cycles, which depend on various biological, behavioral, and psychological factors. For instance, you might have higher productivity in the morning, while your coworker might work better at night. Or, vice versa.
Identify your productivity cycles to know when you’re most productive and plan your day according to those cycles. Moreover, find out your slump times to know when you struggle to focus or get tasks completed. If you notice that you’re more productive in the morning and less productive after lunch, consider scheduling your tasks accordingly.
It’s not easy to stop procrastinating. It may take a lot of time and effort before you learn how to be maximum productive. The first step is addressing it and learning how to stop procrastinating. So, stay patient and work on eliminating procrastination from your life for good.