Just imagine, it’s four in the evening, the time is running and you have to juggle with a plethora of files that need to be completed by five. How does the last-minute pressure feel? Nerve-wracking right, which is the least we can say. Procrastination is a devil we all fall prey to every once in a while. Whether it is the task you have been procrastinating for a week and are working fiercely now to get it done by five pm. Or the laundry you were planning to do three days ago but your inner procrastinator didn’t allow you to. Everyone has put off a task they ought to do and have later cursed themselves for not working on time. Procrastination proves to be nothing but, a ‘guilty pleasure.’ So, how to stop procrastinating to achieve the level of productivity you always wished to?
7 Sure-Fire Ways That Will Help to Avoid Procrastination and Laziness
Here’s a list of 7 sure-fire ways that will not only ease the stress off your mind but will also make you achieve more in less time.
1- Recognize When Procrastination Kicks In
The first step is in recognizing the onset of procrastination. Keep a track of your thoughts to realize when the initial thoughts of procrastination creep into your mind.
Realize that the first few minutes of starting a task are always difficult. It takes time to develop an interest in a particular task because you are human and not a machine. Humans take time to get used to anything whether it is a task or a person.
Although it’s hard to work on something you are not fond of, you still have to do it no matter what. Even if you are interested in the task but the moment you think of it as ‘work’ is when you actually feel the pressure. Whether it is now when you can work on it and handle it piece by piece giving your fullest. Or days later when you have to pull an all-nighter and rush through it just to find yourself exhausted in the morning, you are supposed to complete the tasks!
To stop procrastinating you have to track your thoughts and never give in to the urge of delaying an important task doing something unimportant. Stop waiting for the right time or the right mood to start something. Instead, follow the 15-minute strategy. Start the task with the idea of doing it for just 15 minutes. Once you start working you’ll more likely be spending much more time on it than you thought.
So, If the thought of doing the task later, pops up in your head know that you are about to procrastinate. Don’t give in to the urge easily rather start the task and you will find yourself enjoying it after a few minutes for sure.
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2- Get Rid of Distractions to stop procrastinating
Amid all the things happening around it gets hard to focus on the task that needs to be done. When you keep turning your attention to something insignificant like checking the status update of your friends or going through the email list, you are draining your mind of all the energy. Till the time you get back to work you no longer feel the urge to do it. Or are just not in the mood.
According to a study, distraction is one of the major reasons leading to procrastination in students.
Choose a suitable environment where you would be least distracted by someone or something. Avoid sitting anywhere near a television. You might also listen to some classical music or whatever you prefer to shut down the constant chatter of your siblings, in case you are a freelancer.
If you are a student and have an exam coming try waking up early in the morning before dawn. It will help in improving your attention span as distractions are the least in the morning. By the time everyone’s up you would be halfway through your work already. I would recommend you using the 5/20 rule, though it is used by nutritionists! My modification of it says that work for 20 minutes and then rest for 5 minutes. In this way, you’ll work earnestly as you would get full 5 minutes to indulge in your favourite activity after just 20 minutes!
So, instead of procrastinating tasks by getting distracted, optimize your environment. Turn off your phone and focus on what needs to be done rather than giving away the urge of checking social media.
3- Goal Setting will help to Stop Procrastinating life
Now that we have sorted a way to get rid of distractions, we are here on the third way to avoid procrastination and laziness. Goal setting is important as it helps you visualize your goals.
It not only helps in focusing on the short term goals but also helps in reorganizing your resources for the long-term goals.
Along with initiating goal-oriented behaviours, it helps you to keep a track of your progress. When it comes to overcoming procrastination goal setting becomes crucial as it helps you take control of your life.
When it comes to goal setting there are some important tips to be kept in mind while setting them. Firstly. Make a to-do list. List down all the tasks you have to do for the day. After that label each task as urgent or important according to the category they fall. Now, keep in mind that urgent tasks are those that need your immediate attention. On the other hand, important can be dealt with after getting done with urgent tasks. Let’s say you have to complete the annual report and submit it by 5 pm. While an email from your boss asking about the progress of the report is urgent.
Stephen Covey wrote about this principle Eisenhower Decision Principle in his globally acclaimed work ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.’ It’s a must-read for you if you suffer from chronic procrastination and are on the lookout for some productivity tips.
Summing it up, make a to-do list and start prioritizing the most important tasks. Divide the task into smaller manageable goals to not dread the inner procrastinator within you.
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4- Address the Elephant in the Room First
Procrastination always stems out if you have to work on a task that is hard but important as well. However, it is advisable to address the elephant in the room first thing in the morning. Because our daily biological clock is the most active in the morning and that’s when you are the most productive.
The harder the tasks the more energy and concentration will it require. Getting done with the difficult tasks the first kind of eases the burden and gives you a sense of accomplishment. You’ll also feel productive as you would have already completed the most dreaded task of the day. It’s important to prioritize your day and plan it accordingly.
For instance, if a task is difficult it would be requiring more time. So, It’s better to get done with the hardest tasks first when you are fresh in the morning instead of rushing through it and doing it half-heartedly later.
It is also easier to focus on them in the morning when you are fresh than doing it further in the day when you are already drained off of the energy.
5- Divide the task into small parts to stop procrastinating
Thinking about any task as a whole can be daunting as hell. But, breaking a task into smaller chunks can be just what you need to stop procrastinating further. The moment you think of a task as one big project is the moment your mind start making excuses of avoiding it.
It instills in your subconscious mind that the task is too big to handle and therefore completing it would take an eternity. Just as you can’t eat a burger as a one big whole similarly you can’t do a task all at once. There are certain strategies that helps in improving your productivity and in stopping procrastination. One of which is dividing a task into smaller chunks.
If you have to write a 2000 words essay think about making an outline first. Gather all the points. Organize them into suitable sub-heading and start filling in the information one by one. Writing 150-200 words under a sub-heading isn’t that difficult a task but thinking of it as writing 2000 words is nothing more than dreading your mind of doing it.
So, train your mind strategically and handle every task wisely by dividing it into smaller achievable sections. You won’t be spending more than 15 minutes on each section with this trick.
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6- Find a Partner who will Keep You on Track
After you have made a to-do list, set proper deadlines, and minimizing distractions, comes to a crucial point that will keep you on track if you are a person who never goes back on your word. Find yourself a partner to whom you will be accountable. It can be a friend, a colleague, or an instructor. But, just work in collaboration with someone.
Also, if you are the only person to whom you are accountable to you’ll most likely brush it off your shoulders and take it lightly. However, when you include someone in your plans you will have the added fear of being accountable to someone which will compel you to work on your tasks immediately. Along with the accountability factor, you will also have a comrade to celebrate your accomplishments however insignificant they might be.
This will not only reinforce the thought of not being alone in it. But, will also stop you from procrastinating tasks that you planned on completing before your next meeting. The thought of being accountable to someone can help kill your inner procrastinator.
So, find yourself a partner who will keep you on track whenever your inner procrastinator tries to drift you astray!
7- Celebrate Your Accomplishments
A little reward here and there never killed anyone, right? Right! So, to stop procrastinating and to stay on track you need to reward yourself quite often. Be it a cup of coffee at your favorite café or binge-watching the latest Netflix season, rewards can be anything. It’s easier to focus on a task whether big or small when something is at stake.
Instead of them being a source of distraction, treat them as rewards that you can only enjoy after completing the tasks you scheduled.
So, don’t be hard on yourself rather appreciate the good behavior and the timely work that you completed. Self-appraisal is always a good idea to boost your productivity and efficiency after all.
8- Don’t Beat Yourself Up for the Past Behavior
Coming to the last point, keep in mind that everyone procrastinates at a certain point in their life. Some might even practice it throughout their life. Always remember that no one is perfect. If you are producing one day then you might not be as productive some other day. Life is a mixture of highs and lows. But, you are here with the realization to overcome procrastination.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you ever put off a task occasionally. Studies reveal that cursing yourself for procrastinating will only make you feel worse. It’s even harder to focus on a task when you are stressed. Being frustrated and angry with yourself for wasting time and not starting earlier will only make you extra tired.
So, ease down a bit and forgive yourself to lessen the likelihood of procrastinating tasks in the future.
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While it might be hard to overcome procrastination easily. But, being aware of the reasons that lead to procrastinating things can help overcome it. All it requires is consistent efforts, practice, and time. So, let go of all the excuses and start with today by employing these strategies. As today is better than someday!