When we procrastinate, we delay an important task, usually by focusing on less urgent, more enjoyable, and easier activities instead. It’s different from laziness, which is the unwillingness to act. That being said, when procrastination starts to prevent you from achieving your goals, or contributes to a sense of unhappiness, it’s time to make some changes. The following steps may just be what you need to stop procrastinating!
Number 1 – Break It Up
One of the reasons we procrastinate is that, subconsciously, we find our task overwhelming. To make it less intimidating, break it down into smaller sections and focus on one part at a time. Not only is the resulting amount of work more manageable, it doesn’t look as overwhelming. Besides, once you complete the smaller pieces of the task, you will feel a sense of accomplishment. This helps reinforce your determination to tackle the rest.
Number 2 – Have A Plan
Jumping into a task or project without a clear picture of what’s involved and how you’re going to handle it, can jeopardize the outcome. Without a plan, the tendency is to use any excuse to put off doing what’s required. You might even give up at the first hurdle. Creating a plan will at least provide a road-map that you can reference.
Number 3 – Have A Positive Attitude
Another way to combat the self-doubt that often leads to procrastination is to start thinking more like an optimist: highlight the positive, and minimize the negative. Look more closely at why you might feel that you can’t do the task, and challenge those views by actively looking at reasons you can – your strengths, resources, and your successes in similar things you’ve completed in the past. Focus more on why you can do this, and less on why you think you can’t.
Number 4 – Change The Environment
Your work-space should make you feel inspired, so take a look around. Does the environment motivate you? Or does it make you want to sleep? If it’s the latter, you should consider changing things up a bit.
Number 5 – Stop Looking For Perfection
Perfectionism can hinder progress. Tweaking and altering your project endlessly is not going to make you happy with the end result. If anything, your relentless focus on tiny details will only make you frustrated. When you find yourself procrastinating out of perfectionism, you can help yourself by relaxing your standards. Shoot for ‘good enough’ and work your way up to ‘great’ – if you have time and energy.
Number 6 – Ask For Help When You Need It
Many times an unexpected hurdle or addition to the project or task throws you for a loop. If you’re working diligently and start to feel overwhelmed, it’s okay to ask for help. In fact, it’s the smart thing to do. Just don’t dump your responsibilities on someone else’s shoulders.
Number 7 – Get Rid Of Pit Stops
If you find yourself procrastinating a little too much, maybe it’s because you’re making it too easy for yourself to procrastinate. I’m talking about all those distractions around you that take up lots of your time – such as social media, binge watching Netflix, window shopping on Amazon, and so on. Now, I’m not implying that you should deactivate your Facebook and Instagram accounts… But, simply disabling notifications for social networks and emails can make a huge difference. Procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions, rather than counteracting them with harsh restrictions.
Number 8 – Create A Timeline With Specific Deadlines
Having a single deadline for a task is like an invitation to procrastination, because it allows us to think that we have plenty of time, and we delay the work until it’s too late. When you break down your project into smaller parts, and assign a specific deadline to each, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your project can be broken down into monthly, weekly, or daily tasks. This creates the urgency for you to act, because if you do not complete a task by its deadline, it will jeopardize the rest of the project.
Number 9 – Review Your Goals
One of the reasons why we procrastinate, is because there is a misalignment between what we want to achieve and what we are currently doing. If this is the case for you, it might be time to take a step back and review your goals. We often outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we fail to adjust our goals to reflect that. So take some time out. Go on a short vacation, or go away for a weekend to reorganize yourself.
Number 10 – Find People Who Inspire You
The people we spend time with, influence our behavior. It’s always helpful to have someone who inspires you, or someone who pulls you out of your comfort zone in order to get things done. Find people who motivate you, and hang out with them more often. Or, find people who have already accomplished what you are planning to achieve. Seeing living proof that your goals are achievable, is one of the best triggers for action.
Number 11 – Reward Yourself
Another way to motivate yourself to complete a task, is to create a reward that you will give yourself once it’s been completed. Do something you enjoy when you complete a task. Have a coffee with a friend, take a nap, or go for a walk. Whatever it is, this reward will help solidify a healthy pattern of completing items on your to-do list.
Number 12 – Just Do it!
In the end, it all comes down to taking action. Nothing will happen unless you take action, no matter how much thinking, planning, and strategizing you do. So, whatever it is you are procrastinating about, if you want to get things done, you need to take control and start somewhere. Just do it. There’s no better time than right now! Procrastination is a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior, and you probably can’t break it overnight. So don’t beat yourself up, if you slip every once in a while. Habits only stop being habits when you avoid practicing them, so try as many of the strategies mentioned as possible to give yourself the best possible chance of succeeding.