You have an assignment due; the deadline is hanging over your head like a dark cloud. You should have started working on it last week, and you could even begin the assignment now, but as your anxiety grows, your procrastination causes you to remain inactive.
Procrastination, also known as the act of delaying or postponing something, festers inside many of us, especially if we are feeling overwhelmed with the importance of a pending task.
If you are tired of putting things off until the last minute, you can learn how to overcome procrastination. The first place to start is to understand why you procrastinate in the first place.
From there, you can apply these six steps to help you move forward in completing tasks, thus managing your time and energy more effectively. Don’t delay when you can start today!
1. Causes Of Procrastination
You cannot change a habit unless you first understand why and how it serves you. Generally, there are four types of procrastinators and your own procrastination most likely developed roots due to one of these four key elements.
Stress and anxiety over poor time management
Failure to set realistic deadlines
The drawn of immediate gratification
In addition to these fundamental points, additional reasons can also include a lack of confidence in your skillset or a strong disinterest in said project(s). Sometimes even a fear of conflict could result in procrastinating on a much-needed conversation with someone who may trigger you.
To start, consider the source of your habit to delay action. Once you can determine the root cause, then you can address the significant issue that is holding you back from productivity.
2. Create A Manageable Schedule
If stress over a hectic schedule is your obstacle in overcoming procrastination, you may have trouble prioritizing your tasks. You may believe that you can accomplish every assignment, and while that may be true, life has a way of throwing us curveballs.
“If you’re procrastinating because you’re overwhelmed or hate your work, first ask yourself if the task really needs to be done at all.” From there, create a list and scale your responsibilities from most to least important.
Then, you can take your most essential tasks and divide them up into bite-sized chunks. When you do this, it accomplishes two things; you maintain control over your schedule by developing a set of mini-deadlines, and you declutter the menial duties from your primary focus.
3. Embrace Playtime
Perhaps in understanding procrastination, you realize that you are more of a high-spirited person who prefers to spend time on enjoyable activities. So you delay your responsibilities until the last minute because you just want to have fun.
You may be the type of person who is motivated by instant gratification. In this case, you can make having fun your reward for completing a task.
As mentioned above, you can still create mini-deadlines to make your duties more manageable, but be sure to intersperse enjoyable breaks or fun activities to congratulate yourself on completing a milestone.
This way, you are working towards a pleasurable goal as opposed to a pending deadline.
4. Avoid Perfectionism
If you are prone to perfectionism, procrastination probably comes pretty easily. In attempting to polish your projects to an unattainable level, you are most likely working against the clock while battling the anxiety that comes with an impending deadline.
Best-selling author and life coach Marie Forleo has addressed how perfectionism can harm productivity using an impactful statement and three-word hashtag; “If you wait to get it perfect, you will never get it out there. #ProgressNotPerfection.”
You can also consider this; the aspects of a project that you want to perfect may actually go unnoticed by the person or people who are reviewing it. However, it will not go unnoticed if you deliver a project past the expected deadline.
Save yourself the anxiety and cut yourself some slack. Procrastinate on perfectionism and choose steady progress instead.
5. Choose Interesting Tasks (whenever possible!)
When you are fully engaged in a captivating topic, your focus is effortless. You may find yourself having fun because you are more engrossed in the content than the deadline.
Of course, we don’t always have the freedom to use which responsibilities come our way, but whenever possible, opt for assignments that appeal to your interests. It may even be possible to switch out projects with another person, so each of you are doing work that you enjoy.
When we encounter boring matters and tasks, our attention will wander as the process becomes arduous. And as we become more restless, we lose our momentum; thus, the desire to procrastinate creeps in.
Even if a responsibility lacks your initial curiosity, you can try and utilize your creativity in order to make it a more pleasurable job. Find aspects within a duty that you may be able to expand on and inject your personal style.
6. Remove Distractions
If your attention span is already short (and these days, whose isn’t?), distractions can fuel procrastination. Diversions can take the form of cluttered surroundings, noise pollution, and multitasking; in particular, Smartphones make for a guilty culprit.
You may enjoy background music or working while surrounded by the chatter of other people; maybe you work from home and often get side-tracked by environmental factors. But if you are prone to procrastination, outside forces could further perpetuate this habit.
If possible, try to maintain a quiet workspace. Commit yourself to only checking emails once a day and defer personal calls and messages until you have a break; you can also remove notifications from your phone (or turn it off altogether).
If Not Now, When?
Why do you procrastinate? Is it because you are consumed with perfectionism, or that you lack confidence in your skills? Do you really work best under pressure?
Putting something off until later may feel like a quick fix but ultimately, procrastination causes more pressure and stress. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing now.