Everyone has put off their tasks at some point in life- either for watching their favorite show, reading a book, or scrolling through Instagram. Procrastination is one of those things that even the most organized and dedicated people fall victim to. People who procrastinate have a full sense of the time they are losing and other detrimental effects associated with it- poor grades, low productivity, and mental stress, amongst others. Procrastination is the antithesis of productivity, yet people procrastinate most of the time. As William James (also known as the Father of American Psychology) has rightly mentioned, “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging of an uncompleted task.” Hence we have provided some strategies to overcome procrastination.
9 Strategies to Overcome Procrastination
Both working professionals and students should learn to overcome procrastination and avoid the stress that stems from poor performance or incomplete work. Research suggests that developing a schedule, improving time management skills, and carefully planning your tasks effectively are some of the ways to overcome procrastination. Therefore, broken down, here are 9 strategies for overcoming procrastination.
1) Create a planner
Start your day by creating a planner for all the tasks you want to accomplish. Put a start date, estimated time, and deadline next to each of the tasks so that you don’t fall into cognitive gaps while doing the work. Spend some time in prioritizing your tasks so that you know which one is the most important. You can go on planning your entire week with an estimated schedule of all your tasks. Once you are organized with your work, you will save a lot of time thinking about the work and just focus on working. This time-management skill will help you in a lot of ways to overcome procrastination.
2) Break down work into manageable segments
When you have a big assignment or project to finish, you might feel daunted or intimidated to start the work. At this point, if you divide the project into parts and start with each part at a time, complete it and then start with the next step, you will be able to break your work into manageable segments. Take all the items on your list and break them down into a series of steps. Once you have a detailed plan, you can process each task according to priority and start working on them. Further, you also procrastinate tasks that are vague and not clearly defined. Avoid this confusion and define your tasks clearly and schedule them as per the importance.
3) Get help in decision making
Not everybody is good at making decisions. Some of you may not be able to decide how to plan your calendar or prioritize your tasks. This is especially important for people at work who cannot choose between multiple tasks. When you are unable to decide, you procrastinate your tasks indefinitely. Alternatively, you can take help or guidance in your decision-making process. It could be your friend, colleague, or boss. Once you have made your decision and created your worklist accordingly, there are fewer chances of procrastination, and you will be able to complete your work on time.
4) Eliminate distractions
It’s hard to focus on work when you keep turning your attention to what’s happening around you. From laundry to social media, we have a cornucopia of distractions surrounding us, which triggers us to procrastinate the work in hand. You need to eliminate these distractions and assign time to yourself during which you do not focus on anything but your work. This is one of the classic strategies to overcome procrastination, and you will see a significant improvement in your productivity.
5) List the costs of procrastination
One of the proven strategies to overcome procrastination is to list down all that you will lose when you procrastinate. When you are putting off your tasks, think for a second of what you will lose with that. It is worth making a list of things you put off- be it personal or work-related- and then calculate the procrastination costs for each. When you have the list of adverse impacts of putting off your task- like mental stress, poor sales, delay in work, possible job loss, and others; your chances of procrastinating will reduce, and you will start paying detailed attention to your work.
6) Do the hard tasks first
Our biological clocks function differently for each individual. It is vital that you understand your work pattern and figure out the time you are most motivated to complete your tasks. Since we usually procrastinate the tasks that look difficult, it is essential to complete the harder tasks when we are most productive. For example, morning time could be the most productive time for working professionals, and they should try to complete their difficult work during that time. The harder the task, the more energy, and concentration you need to complete the task. Therefore, it makes sense to finish the hardest tasks during your productive time and then take up smaller tasks.
7) Set Aside Time for Cheats and Rewards
Though they are contrary to each other, it is important to set aside time for some cheats and rewards. When you have completed a task in hand, it is encouraging to reward yourself for your efforts. Give yourself a pat on the back and a small treat- from eating a bar of chocolate to finishing your favorite show. This excitement of getting a reward motivates you to complete the task and avoid procrastination. Moreover, you can also allow for some cheat time. When you are tired or have low motivation, take a break, and allow yourself some rest. Don’t be so hard on yourself to escape procrastination that you forget to rest. During your cheat days, you can keep your work for tomorrow and reschedule your plan.
8) Avoid catastrophizing
Psychology Today defines catastrophizing as a cognitive distortion that prompts people to jump to the worst possible conclusions after a minor setback. One of the primary reasons for why people procrastinate is because they catastrophize on every small event. Whatever be the case, people assume the task in hand to be unbearable and hence put it off for some time. In reality, putting off your work will lead to far damaging consequences. Therefore, you need to get rid of catastrophizing and stress levels and finish your task.
9) Believe in yourself
Last but not least, do not forget to believe in yourself and your ability to accomplish your tasks. You need to overcome the fear of failure to overcome procrastination. If you have lost hope, you can turn things around with a strong self-belief and will power. Get started with your work with a positive attitude and avoid all triggers of procrastination. Remember, you can do it.
Procrastination is one such habit that takes time to break. However, with these simple strategies to overcome procrastination, you can attempt to avoid it. While it will take time, it is essential to become cognizant of why you procrastinate and take the necessary steps to overcome the same. Once you implement these strategies, you will notice a significant change in yourself with a reduced procrastination trigger and an improvement in your productivity.