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7 Creative Ways To Overcome Procrastination

7 Creative Ways To Overcome Procrastination

Everyone procrastinates. It’s a fact of life. Every day you’re faced with undesirable tasks that you postpone. Who hasn’t put off paying taxes, making doctor’s appointments, and organizing the piles of papers on your desk? And it’s not only tasks. Communication is an often-procrastinated task that we avoid. The other is putting things in their proper place. Why should you should you put your clothes away when you’re going to wear the same ones later? Think about it, how many conversations are you avoiding (right now) that you should be having?

It’s human nature to avoid the unwanted, uncomfortable, and undesirable tasks, events, and situations. If you avoid a task, you might want to ask yourself, what is this showing me about myself. We avoid tasks because they show us our hidden character flaws (ones that we’d rather not see in ourselves). Procrastinated tasks are triggers of our what we don’t like in ourselves.

We don’t want to face the fact that math that concepts are hard. Or maybe a task will shows you how disorganized you are. (Where are all those receipts I saved for taxes?) We don’t want to admit that a certain subject makes us feel stupid. (I’m an artist my brain doesn’t comprehend finances). We’d like to believe that we could master any subject.

People tend to label themselves as procrastinators but it’s not that simple. There are many hidden issues that cause us to avoid starting or finishing tasks. If you know what type of procrastinator you are, it’s easier to customize a system that will support you during the stressful times, and lead to success. There are different types of procrastinators.

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There are perfectionists who get stuck over-preparing. Every detail has to be in place, lined up symmetrically before they can begin. There are the pressure-cookers who choose to wait because they work best under pressure. But in reality, they have no sense of timing, don’t understand the project, or it’s something boring like taxes, monthly accounting, and organizing paper piles.

And then there are party people who’d rather be hanging out with friends in the neighborhood bar than face paying bills (because if they do, they’ll overdraw their account).

Don’t forget the pretenders who get themselves into situations they know nothing about. Sure, I can do that, they tell their colleagues. They’re confident (at the time) that they’ll figure it out but as the deadline comes closer, they sit there blank and clueless. Their “superman complex” makes them think they can fly, but when they’re standing on the ledge, they look down to see it’s made of Kryptonite.

Let’s face it; when you’re procrastinating you just don’t want to do what you have to do. Whether it’s paying taxes, going to the dentist, or calling your aunt to wish her a happy birthday- admit it, there is something about that task that sets off your internal discomfort alarm.

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Some reasons we procrastinate are: doubt (I don’t know how to do it), fear (I’m afraid I won’t be good enough), desire (I’d rather go out with friends), indecision (I can’t decide what or how to do it), or boredom (I can’t concentrate. Too boring!).

So don’t waste your money or try to read a book on productivity, you know you won’t do that either. What you need are some creative-out-of-the-ordinary do-it-now hacks. Here are seven creative ways to overcome procrastination.

Be honest with yourself.

Admit it. It’s okay to say, I just don’t want to do this. Don’t deceive yourself. You’ll feel so much better if you’re honest with yourself. Face the facts. If you don’t want to do it now, say so. But commit to when you will do it, even if it’s an hour before the deadline. Why do you think the post office stays open past midnight on April 15?

Avoid traditional methods.

They won’t work if you don’t want to do the task, no matter how many clever reminders you use. Know what’s holding you back from facing the task, and then get creative. Customize the task for your specific needs. If you’re a night person, and your brain functions best at 1:00 a.m., plan your day around your high functioning hours. That means instead of grabbing another Red Bull or double-shot espresso at 3:00 p.m., take a power nap and prepare for a late night.

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Get support.

You may be avoiding the task because you don’t know to do it. You can spend hours trying to figure out how to do it, but that’ll only cause more stress. Ask for help. Admit that it’s not your area of expertise and find a friend, professional, book, or website that will help you get the job done.

Know your strengths.

You may be an expert mathematician, but your analytical mind might not comprehend the cognitive logic of psychology. Admit your reason for not getting started. Face the facts. It’s ok. Nobody’s perfect. Everyone isn’t a master in every subject. Go easy on yourself. Know that you have strengths but you can’t excel in every area. Knowing your strengths will help you accomplish your goals. Take this survey to discover your strengths.

Set a deadline.

Stating that you know it will be late creates a feeling of control, even if it’s up a last minute deadline. Admit that you’ll get the job done when you’re ready. Try to keep the deadline. Write it on a calendar. Send yourself an email. Set 3 alarms at different intervals to remind you to meet the deadline. The future can’t be seen or measured. What’s measured is managed, said Peter Drucker. Measure your time so you can manage it.

What’s the punishment?

Procrastination is denial. We know there will be a consequence but we ignore the repercussions if we do not complete required tasks. Procrastinators put off monitoring their bank accounts until they get an email saying their account is overdrawn. We become time blind, Dr. Russell Barkley states in his book, Taking Charge of Adult ADHD. Here and now is all that matters.

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What’s the reward?

When’re stuck in procrastination, negative thoughts take over your mind. All you think of is the despicable task you’re avoiding. You forget the benefits you’ll receive from completing the task. If you’re a student struggling to finish a paper for a required class, keep the reward in mind, you’ll be motivated to push through the discomfort to get a diploma. It’s amazing how motivated a bride can become when she has to lose weight before her wedding. Rewards are motivators.

You are not alone. Everyone avoids what they don’t enjoy. It’s true, some people are masters at forging through the tough tasks, but most of us have a long list of avoidances every day. Discover your strengths and then use them to get through the discomfort of procrastination. You will feel fantastic when you do!

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Last Updated on September 17, 2018

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

Today we are expected to work in highly disruptive environments. We sit down at our desks, turn on our computer and immediately we are hit with hundreds of emails all vying for our attention.

Our phones are beeping and pinging with new alerts to messages, likes and comments and our colleagues are complaining about the latest company initiative is designed to get us to do more work and spend less time at home.

All these distractions result in us multitasking where our attention is switching between one crisis and the next.

Multitasking is a problem. But how to stop multitasking?

How bad really is multitasking?

It dilutes your focus and attention so even the easiest of tasks become much harder and take longer to complete.

Studies have shown that while you think you are multitasking, you are in fact task switching, which means your attention is switching between two or more pieces of work and that depletes the energy resources you have to do your work.

This is why, even though you may have done little to no physical activity, you arrive home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and not in the mood to do anything.

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We know it is not a good way to get quality work done, but the demands for out attention persist and rather than reduce, are likely to increase as the years go by.

So what to do about it?

Ways to stop multitasking and increase productivity

Now, forget about how to multitask!

Here are a few strategies on how to stop multitasking so you can get better quality and more work done in the time you have each working day:

1. Get enough rest

When you are tired, your brain has less strength to resist even the tiniest attention seeker. This is why when you find your mind wandering, it is a sign your brain is tired and time to take a break.

This does not just mean taking breaks throughout the day, it also means making sure you get enough sleep every day.

When you are well rested and take short regular breaks throughout the day your brain is fully refuelled and ready to focus in on the work that is important.

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2. Plan your day

When you don’t have a plan for the day, the day will create a plan for you. When you allow outside influences to take control of your day, it is very hard not to be dragged off in all directions.

When you have a plan for the day, when you arrive at work your brain knows exactly what it is you want to accomplish and will subconsciously have prepared itself for a sustained period of focused work.

Your resistance to distractions and other work will be high and you will focus much better on the work that needs doing.

3. Remove everything from your desk and screen except for the work you are doing

I learned this one a long time ago. In my previous work, I worked in a law office and I had case files to deal with. If I had more than one case file on my desk at any one time, I would find my eyes wandering over the other case files on my desk when I had something difficult to do.

I was looking for something easier. This meant often I was working on three or four cases at one time and that always led to mistakes and slower completion.

Now when I am working on something, I am in full-screen mode where all I can see is the work I am working on right now.

4. When at your desk, do work

We are creatures of habit. If we do our online shopping and news reading at our desks as well as our work, we will always have the temptation to be doing stuff that we should not be doing at that moment.

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Do your online shopping from another place—your home or from your phone when you are having a break—and only do your work when at your desk. This conditions your brain to focus in on your work and not other distractions.

5. Learn to say no

Whenever you hear the phrase “learn to say no,” it does not mean going about being rude to everyone. What it does mean is delay saying yes.

Most problems occur when we say “yes” immediately. We then have to spend an inordinate amount of energy thinking of ways to get ourselves out of the commitment we made.

By saying “let me think about it” or “can I let you know later” gives you time to evaluate the offer and allows you to get back to what you were doing quicker.

6. Turn off notifications on your computer

For most of us, we still use computers to do our work. When you have email alert pop-ups and other notifications turned on, they will distract you no matter how strong you feel.

Turn them off and schedule email reviewing for times between doing your focused work. Doing this will give you a lot of time back because you will be able to remain focused on the work in front of you.

7. Find a quiet place to do your most important work

Most workplaces have meeting rooms that are vacant. If you do have important work to get done, ask if you can use one of those rooms and do your work there.

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You can close the door, put on your headphones and just focus on what is important. This is a great way to remove all the other, non-important, tasks demanding your attention and just focus on one piece of work.

The bottom line

Focusing on one piece of work at a time can be hard but the benefits to the amount of work you get done are worth it. You will make fewer mistakes, you will get more done and will feel a lot less tired at the end of the day.

Make a list of the four or five things you want to get done the next day before you finish your work for the day and when you start the day, begin at the top of the list with the first item.

Don’t start anything else until you have finished the first one and then move on to the second one. This one trick will help you to become way more productive.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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