I will do it later. That is the refrain of the procrastinator. Unfortunately, later never comes, or when it does arrive, it comes with panic and the need to rush. Neither is a good thing.
Procrastinating steals productivity and can cause a variety of negative consequences. So, how do you stop procrastinating so much? You can begin by applying these ten hacks to your life.
1. Revamp Your To-Do List
Your to-do list should probably be a lot shorter than it is. Why is that? If you already know you are going to do a particular task, do not bother writing it down. Instead, limit the items on your to-do list to the tasks that tempt you to procrastinate.
The simple act of writing these jobs down can have the psychological effect of making your need to finish them even greater. After all, it does suck to end the day without crossing things off your to do list.
2. Identify Your Procrastination Source
If you find yourself putting off a task, try to figure out why. Are you lacking energy? Is the task too intimidating? Are you afraid that you will not do an adequate job?
Identify the reason why you are procrastinating, and you might be able to solve the underlying problem. Then, you can get back to being productive.
3. Set a Timer And Get to Work
If you have ever tried to get a child to clean their room, you might have set a time and encouraged them to beat the clock. Believe it or not, this often works for adults. In fact, there is an entire productivity and time management philosophy that is known as the Pomodoro Method.
This involves setting a timer and working in bursts of 25 minutes with 5-minute breaks in between.
The idea is to spend the 25 minutes working at a furious pace on the task at hand and then rewarding yourself with that small break. It is much easier to work if you know you have a break coming up. You can also compete with yourself to get more done during each work spree.
4. Tackle The Miserable Tasks First
There are two factors that have a big impact on procrastination. The first is the time of day. The later it is, the less likely you will be able to push through that urge to put things off.
The second factor is the misery factor. Knowing this, try to structure your day so that you will work on those tasks that seem like drudgery. Save the tasks that are easier or more enjoyable for the afternoon. Your tired brain and body will appreciate it.
5. Take Planned Breaks Throughout The Day
If you are a procrastinator, you may not be taking enough breaks. That is right! Your problem may not be that you spend too much time relaxing, but that you spend too little. The issue is that many people will take lunch and work breaks, but when they do, they stay in work mode.
How many lunches have you taken as you read work related emails? How many breaks have you spent talking to a co-worker about a current project? Take your breaks, and make sure that you spend them truly disengaged. Eat, relax, surf the net, take a walk. You will come back prepared to knock out the next task on your list.
6. Make a List of Commercial Break Tasks
Think about all of the jobs that you put off in a given day. How many of them can be accomplished during a television commercial break?
Chores such as switching over laundry, taking out the kitchen trash, wiping down the counters, and feeding the pets can all be finished in the time that a few commercials run during your favorite shows.
Even if you do not watch television, you can use this technique to push yourself into getting up and just doing it.
7. Break Big Jobs Into Smaller Tasks
If you try to tackle a huge project, the intimidation factor alone can make procrastination seem very attractive. For example, rewriting the employee manual seems like an albatross of a task that could take weeks to finish. Break that down into smaller tasks that you can chip away at one at a time, and suddenly the job seems easier:
- Write 200 words of the employee manual introduction
- Think of titles for each section
- Send email to company present to clarify policy on tardiness
Don’t these smaller tasks seem much more ‘doable’?
8. Take Care of Yourself
Do not assume that your procrastination issue is a laziness problem. You might simply have drained your energy reserves. Help yourself stay on track by getting enough sleep, eating enough healthy foods, and getting at least a bit of exercise.
If you are feeling particularly lethargic and unmotivated, talk to your doctor. Your body could be struggling with a vitamin deficiency or even depression. When you are healthier, procrastination will often become less and less of an issue.
9. Reward Yourself
If you want to stop procrastinating, give yourself a reason to get back to work. Reward your own accomplishments by treating yourself. For smaller tasks, you can create a list of small rewards such as a five-minute break to play a favorite game on one of the top sites for gaming or a small amount of desert.
If you tackle something that was particularly difficult, then make your reward bigger. Get that big project knocked out, and maybe you have earned a Friday night out on the town.
10. Go Off The Grid For a Day
If you are like most people, electronic distractions can be a real source of your procrastination. It is easy to put tasks off in favor of hanging out on Facebook. It is also much more tempting to avoid getting things done when you ‘have to’ respond to all of those emails and messages.
To combat this, consider taking yourself off the grid every so often. Switch your devices to airplane mode, let people know that you will unavailable for the day. Then, put your head down and start plowing through all of those tasks that you would normally avoid. This is a great technique for getting your offline tasks finished and out of the way.
Procrastinating is a bad habit that limits your productivity and can carry a variety of other negative consequences. Fortunately, you retrain yourself and learn to drop or modify the behaviors that can lead to putting tasks off.
The next time you feel tempted to delay an important job, try applying a few of these techniques. Before long, getting up and getting things done will be just as deeply ingrained as procrastination. This is when you will know that you have truly beaten your procrastination habit.
Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com