We can all relate to those moments where we know what we need to do, but we just cannot seem to get ourselves to actually do it. This is something that we all struggle with from time to time, and that’s exactly what procrastination is. We tell ourselves there’s ample time and we’ll take care of that task or assignment, which just doesn’t feel like a priority right now. Before we know it, the deadline is looming over our head and the clock is ticking ominously. In this blog post, we will discuss how to overcome procrastination – 10 strategies to boost your productivity.
Procrastination is a major obstacle to productivity and success. If you’re always putting off work for tomorrow or later, you know it’s a problem. Luckily, you are not alone and this is something you can overcome with some effort and motivation. So, let’s dive in!
1. Break it down into Smaller Chunks
One of the main reasons for procrastination is being overwhelmed by the size or complexity of an errand. Many tasks have several sub-tasks, which is why just thinking about it is exhausting or off-putting. Therefore, next time undertaking a chore seems equivalent to climbing Mount Everest, consider dividing it into smaller manageable parts. Complete one small step at a time to put yourself at ease. This technique will make it easier to get started and remain in control of what you’re doing.
For example, if you need to write a report, break it down into smaller steps such as outlining, researching, writing the introduction and so on. By doing this, you’ll be able to make progress on the task without feeling burdened or intimidated.
2. Set achievable Goals
‘Go big or go home’ is a common mindset that is detrimental to our existence. We want to do and achieve the maximum in one go, which is impractical. Setting attainable goals is the way to go if you wish to preserve your sanity and well-being. When we establish objectives that are too difficult or unrealistic, we are more likely to procrastinate because the tasks ahead appear to be too much of a challenge.
The right strategy is to set goals that are reasonable and doable, but still stimulating enough to push you out of your comfort zone. For example, rather than aiming to get all the heavy grocery bags from the car in one round, make an extra trip or two. The extra trip/trips will take up lesser effort, give you some much-needed exercise, and will actually save time (because you can move faster and easier while carrying less).
3. Clock your Tasks
Allotting a specific time-frame or using a timer can be an effective tool for conquering procrastination. Set a timer for a specific amount of time, such as 25 minutes, and work on the task without interruptions during that period. When the timer goes off, take a short break (about 5 minutes) before moving on the next errand on your to-do list. If you were unable to complete a task in the allocated time, try again and work on better time management.
This approach is called the Pomodoro Technique – it can help you to stay focused and avoid distractions. By breaking the job at hand into smaller work sessions, you shall be less likely to be fraught and more likely to make headway.
4. Remove distractions
Distractions are the primary cause for procrastinating, which is why you need to eliminate as many as possible. Do not let social media or activities in your surroundings sidetrack you from work. For starters, you can try switching off your smartphone because that is indeed the biggest distraction in our lives. If you cannot afford to turn it off then at least turn off all unnecessary notifications, and put it away at a distance; this way you won’t be tempted to check it every 2 minutes.
Moreover, you need to close excessive tabs on your computer, which are not related to your work. You may consider using an app or browser extension to block distracting apps/websites during your work sessions. If there is too much commotion or disturbance around you, get up and find a quiet place to work.
5. Create a Schedule
When you have too much on your plate and you don’t know where to start, procrastination might seem like the easy way out. If you make a list of everything that needs to be done and assign a specific time of the day to carry out each task individually, it gets easier to keep up with targets. Creating a schedule can help you avoid delays and evade the consequences of missing deadlines.
Organize your work and break times to make the most of your day. Stick to a proposed timetable as much as possible, as this helps develop a routine and create a sense of structure around your work. When creating a schedule, be sure to include time for exercise, meal times, socializing, and other activities that are important to you. Balancing work and other activities prevents burnt out and keeps you motivated to be productive.
6. Find an accountability partner
Having someone to hold you accountable can be a powerful motivator. Find a friend, colleague, or family member who can help you remain persistent on completing an assignment, so that you don’t dilly-dally. More than often, we need someone to give us a reality check and bluntly tell us that we’re wasting precious time. Your accountability partner is someone who knows how to put you on a guilt trip, and give you the pep talk you need to achieve your goals.
Set regular check-ins with your accountability partner to review your progress and discuss any challenges you’re facing. Having someone to talk to about your aspirations and developments helps a person remain dedicated and driven.
7. Resort to Positive Self-talk
Most procrastinators tend to underestimate themselves; they undermine their true potential through negative self-talk. This habit leads to low self-esteem, anxiety, and lethargy. If you’re always having negative thoughts about your abilities and past achievements, it’s time to change your mindset. Your successes, little or small, do matter. Be proud of the progress you have made rather than beating yourself up over failures. Every failure paves the path to success, so stay positive and consider them your learning process.
Instead of thinking “I’m never going to be able to finish this task,” try thinking, “I’ve completed difficult tasks in the past, and I can do this too.” By embracing positive self-talk, you’ll be able to build your confidenc, and overcome any intrusive thoughts or emotions that may be holding you back.
8. Reward yourself
Rewarding oneself for reaching targets and completing tasks is a formidable approach to self-development. Give yourself a pat on the back every time you finish an assignment on time and tick everything on your to-do list for the day. Treating yourself right is essential for your well-being and mental health. When you feel good on the inside, the urge to procrastinate won’t get anywhere near you.
Help yourself to your favorite dessert, go to the movies, watch an episode of your favorite show or plan an outing with a special someone to celebrate. These little rewards you give to yourself will definitely encourage you to do better and be a go-getter.
9. Prioritize your tasks
Prioritizing your tasks can help you to focus on the most important things first and say goodbye to procrastination. Make a list of all the tasks you need to complete and then rank them based on their significance and urgency. Start with the crucial errands and work your way down the list.
When you finish the important tasks early, the rest becomes a piece of cake. You are able to escape the panic mode or feelings of frustration that lead to procrastination. When you start early to get your chores done, you are usually free to relax and enjoy the rest of the day by noon. You’ll be surprised by how much time you have to invest in yourself.
10. Break the Bad Habits
Identify any bad habits that may be contributing to your procrastinating tendencies. For instance, if you tend to procrastinate by watching TV, limit your screen time and make time for more productive activities. Breaking bad habits isn’t easy, but it is a vital step to overcome procrastination. To break bad habits, you need to recognize the triggers that cause you to engage in distracting activities.
If you are spending too much time on social media, you need to understand what influences you to log onto social media; for example, the reason could be boredom, the fear of missing out, stress, or anxiety. Once you’ve identified the triggers, you can work on developing healthier habits to replace the bad ones. For example, you can try reading a book or going out for a walk to cut down screen time.
Elijah Cole is the founder of The Witty Minds blog and a professional content creator. His expertise lies in creative writing and lifestyle blogging. At Witty Minds, he is the lead writer, editor, and publisher of all original content.