We’ve all procrastinated at one time or another, and if you’ve found your way to this page, chances are you’re procrastinating right now.
Maybe you’re avoiding an unpleasant task that has to be done; you may be anxious about what has to be done; or you could simply not even know where to start.
Procrastination kills projects before they’ve even begun, but it doesn’t have to claim yours. We’ve collected some of the best, proven tips to help you get out of your rut and get started.
- Stop Lying to Yourself: You may be telling yourself, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” “The time isn’t right” or “I work better under pressure.” Be honest, you don’t, do you? Ditch the time-wasting excuses and get down to work.
- Make Your Plan Public: Do you really want to hold yourself accountable for your work? Let everyone know what you’re doing. In most cases, you can simply tell co-workers and friends what you’re planning to do, but if you need some extreme motivation, you can raise the stakes. There are some websites, like stickK, that will let you put together a plan and set deadlines. If you don’t hit those deadlines, the site will take a predetermined amount of money from your bank account and donate it to charity. Get working or get penalised.
- Make Reasonable Plans: You know yourself better than anybody else. It’s easy to declare that you’ll get up at 5 a.m. every day and get work done, but if you’re not a morning person, you know that’s not going to happen. Make plans around how you work. If you find it easier to work in the wee hours, for example, carve out time every night to get your best work done.
- Make Achievable to-Do Lists: There’s a satisfying feeling to ticking an item off your to-do list. In planning your project, list out everything that you have to do, not just items that you know you will do, just so you can check them off. On the other end of the scale, don’t list huge, impossible-seeming tasks, as they will only intimidate you and make you want to procrastinate further. Not to mention you’ll likely end up stretching yourself too thin trying to achieve the un-achievable.
- Time Management: Any task can seem insurmountable if you don’t put a limit on how long you have to work on it. Fortunately, there are many techniques that can break that time down into manageable tasks. A popular one named the Pomodoro Technique breaks work down into 25-minute chunks, followed by a 5-minute break. Find a technique or app that works for you and use it. In addition to managing your time, try managing your work style so you can get more done in less time.
- Look at Your Workplace: Where do you work best? Do you prefer to be alone or surrounded by people? Do you like music or absolute silence? Do you prefer working in public or at home? Work out your preferences, and set up you workspace accordingly. And, if you’re stuck in an office plan you don’t care for, try these tips to survive it.
- Remove Distractions: Let’s be honest: You say working with the TV on in the background works for you, but if you find you spend more time staring at talk shows than your computer, it’s a distraction and it needs to go. The same goes for anything that stops you from working. Turn your phone off, unplug your router and take your headphones out. Facebook can wait.
- Break Down Large Tasks: Having one, overarching goal can feel impossible to achieve. If you break it down into several, smaller parts, it’ll feel a lot easier. For example, the original goal of “write a blog” can be broken down into a) research your piece, b) outline the blog with all relevant points, c) complete first draft, d) polish and create completed blog.
- Reward Yourself: Who better to reward yourself than, well, yourself? After all, you know what motivates you best. For every milestone in your work, designate a treat for yourself. It can be something physical, like a new item of clothing or the book you’ve been wanting to get around to reading. Alternatively, it can be an experience, such as a trip to the movies or an evening spent with your friends.
- Bite the Bullet: In the end, all these tips are helpful, but before you can use them you just have to get on and do whatever you need to do. Focus on the sense of achievement when you’ve finished your project, and all your hard work will be worth it.
Procrastination is easy, but will ultimately hurt you. Putting things off can increase stress, as well as have an impact on your career and relationship with your co workers. Stop putting off what needs to be done, and you career, and health, will thank you for it. Go forth, and avoid procrastination NOW!