Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 25, 2021

10 Mini Hacks to Overcome Procrastination

10 Mini Hacks to Overcome Procrastination

Is procrastination taking over your life?

We are all familiar with the phenomenon of procrastination. You have a task you need to do, but instead of doing it you slack off, dillydally, deliberately put it off, or delay by fiddling with miscellaneous things like making unnecessary calls, checking e-mail, or social media.

You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything. So you drag your feet and defer the work, only to face it later when it is unavoidable. And then when it is indeed too late, you panic and wish you had done the task earlier.

Ironically, I had planned to finish this article yesterday by the time it was 10 a.m.

Advertising

In the meantime, I had consumed two breakfasts, checked my e-mails, edited a post for my website, watched a few episodes of a favorite TV show, opened several tabs on my browser, despaired at my lack of progress, hung out with my cousin… and written absolutely nothing.

What’s wrong with me?  It’s not like me to not want to write.

The problem with procrastination

According to research that attempts to explain this sort of behavior, nothing is wrong with me. Or, at least, nothing out of the ordinary for writers. Derek Thompson, a senior editor at The Atlantic, notes that productive people sometimes fail to differentiate reasonable delay and true procrastination. The former can be useful: “I’ll respond to this email when I have more time to write it,” he says.

The latter, Derek writes, is by definition, self-defeating: (“I should respond to this email right now, and I have time, and my fingers are on the keys, and the Internet connection is perfectly strong, and nobody is asking me to do anything else, but I just… don’t… feel like it.”

Advertising

Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University, puts it plainly that procrastination “really has nothing to do with time-management. To tell the chronic procrastinator to just do it would be like saying to a clinically depressed person, cheer up.”

If you occasionally suffer from true procrastination (as I am sure all of us do), then these ten quick mini hacks might come in handy to help you get a handle of things and overcome procrastination.

1.   Set a deadline for tasks.

One thing that can help beat procrastination is the inescapable pressure of an impending deadline. So, set a hard deadline for tasks to bind yourself to your responsibilities. It’s amazing how productive we get when we face an impending deadline. Admittedly, the pressure might not be felt until after the deadline has passed for chronic procrastinators, but still. It has its uses.

2.   Schedule reminders to complete tasks significantly ahead of the deadline.

To hack this strategy, you could schedule one-shot reminders as late as possible—even slightly after you were supposed to start the project, says Derek. This way you shock yourself into action and stop yourself from putting off assignment. Scheduled reminders are also great because they ensure you don’t forget about a task until long after the deadline, as it sometimes happens when you’re procrastinating. Imagine how great you’ll feel when you’re done ahead of the deadline.

Advertising

3.   Break down big tasks into micro-steps.

Most tasks contain many sub-tasks that they cause a mental overload. We find ourselves opting to take the path of least resistance, which is often procrastination. The way to beat this trap is to break down big tasks into micro-steps. For example, if you are procrastinating about writing a book, just start with the title. Come back and write the outline. Then just write the first sentence. Write the second sentence and keep going from there. If you take it one step at a time, it’s not that daunting at all.

4.   Use the 10-minute rule.

If a task seems overwhelming or if you can’t bring yourself to start and are tempted to just procrastinate, tell yourself you are only going to do it for 10 minutes. There is nothing intimidating about 10 minutes. Once you get started, the Zeigarnik Effect will kick in and you will be much more likely to keep going. This is a highly effective hack that helps break the pattern of stalling or dreading work.

5.   Remove distractions.

Procrastination is much easier when you have tantalizing distractions everywhere, such as Facebook, Twitter, pinterest, TV, IM and e-mail. Instead of hoping to come back strong after being distracted, it’s much more effective to prevent distraction from derailing you in the first place. So remove all distraction during work hours. Clear off your desk, turn off e-mail notifications, close all open browser tabs and any other distractions on your computer. In fact, disconnect the Internet if you can.

6.   Eat the frog last.

If you have a bunch of tasks that you need to do but you are procrastinating, try doing the easiest task first. The idea is to get things into motion and create momentum straight away. Once you are in motion, it will be easier to eat the frog (to do the “worst” or “hardest” thing that you must do regardless) when the Zeigarnik Effect finally kicks in.

Advertising

7.   Change your environment.

Sometimes our work environment promotes procrastination. Consider the room you work from. Does it make you want to work or does it make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it is the latter, it’s time to change things around. Tidy up the room, improve the lighting, bring indoor plants to change the ambiance, order comfortable furniture, get a good heating system, or relocate to a quieter place. Whatever you do, make sure your work environment makes you feel inspired to get work done.

8.   Communicate your progress to others.

It could be a close friend, a business partner, a colleague, a mentor, or an editor. Whoever it is, communicate to them your progress whether you’ve actually made any progress or not (and if not, why not). The idea is to have someone hold you accountable and keep you on track.

9.   Go outdoors and enjoy nature.

Science has shown that going out into the wild and enjoying nature can double or even triple your brain activity and get your creative juices flowing.Set work aside when you feel overwhelmed with a task and get something like a twenty minute walk or so outdoors. It will do you a lot of good, boost your fitness levels, and strengthen your willpower to get stalled projects moving again.

10.  Get enough sleep.

Granted, this isn’t the root cause of procrastination. However, if you don’t get a good night’s sleep, say because you go to bed too late, your brain won’t function optimally the next day. You will be fatigued and weak-minded all day and give in to pretty much every possible distraction of the day. However, if you get a good night’s sleep you will wake up refreshed, energized and ready to get things cracking.

And don’t also forget power naps. There’s nothing better than taking a quick 5- to 15-minute rest when you realize you are procrastinating. This will often do the trick wonderfully.

Featured photo credit: Garrhet Sampson via unsplash.com

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

10 Reasons Why Some People Feel Like They Don’t Have Enough Time 25 Memory Exercises That Actually Help You Remember More 10 Mini Hacks to Overcome Procrastination 12 Simple Ways to Boost Your Confidence Right Now 10 Amazing Health Benefits Of Beer You Probably Never Knew

Trending in Procrastination

1 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life 2 Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How to Tackle Them 3 What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide) 4 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 5 5 Types of Procrastination (And How to Fix Each of Them)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on March 2, 2021

8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

The negative effects of procrastination can range from simply missing a deadline on an important task to something more long-term, such as a missed opportunity that kills a dream. Some of us might be lucky enough to identify our tendency to procrastinate in time and still do something about it.

For others, it can have long-lasting effects that resonate throughout their lives.

The reason we procrastinate varies from person to person and is not always obvious. Sometimes, it is a hidden fear that we don’t want to acknowledge, or it could even be as simple as not wanting to do something because it just doesn’t motivate us.

Whatever the reason may be, if you know you are a procrastinator, you should be careful, as it has far more damaging effects than you may realize. You can find out if you’re a chronic procrastinator with this free assessment: Are You a Chronic Procrastinator?

Here are the 8 most common effects of procrastination that can destroy not only your productivity, but your life.

1. Losing Precious Time

How much time have you wasted procrastinating?

The worst thing about procrastinating is the moment you realize that you are two, five, or ten years older and nothing has changed.

Advertising

This is a terrible feeling because you can’t turn back the hands of time; you just have to live with the helpless feeling of regret. There is nothing worse than feeling frustrated at yourself, knowing the situation could have been so different if only you had taken that first step.

2. Blowing Opportunities

How many opportunities have you wasted because you didn’t take advantage of them when they were there? This is when the effects of procrastination make you really want to kick yourself.

What you don’t realize is that the opportunity could have been life changing, but you missed out on it. Most opportunities only come around once; you are never guaranteed a second chance.

Opportunities are the world’s way of giving you more, so do yourself a favor and grab them with both hands as soon as they present themselves.

3. Not Meeting Goals

Procrastination seems to come on with full force when we entertain the thought of goals, of wanting to achieve or change something. You might have a strong desire to change, but you just can’t seem to take the first step forward.

This is normally confusing and perplexing; you might find yourself thinking, “Why is it so hard to go for something that I want so badly?” Only you can answer that; you’ll have to explore a little deeper into the resistance.

We set goals because we have a deep desire to better our lives in some way. If you don’t do this because of procrastination, you reduce the possibility to better your life.

Advertising

Uncover the root cause behind your procrastination if it’s preventing you from achieving your goals, or you may never attain them.

And if you need a bit of help in reaching your goal, The Dreamers’ Guide To Taking Actions And Reaching Your Goals is what you need. It’s a free guide that will help you tackle your procrastination behavior and craft an actionable plan to start to reach your goal. Grab your free guide here.

4. Ruining a Career

The way you work directly affects your results, how much you achieve, and how well you perform, so the effects of procrastination can end up being detrimental to your career.

Procrastination may prevent you from meeting deadlines or achieving your monthly targets. What consequence will this eventually have on your career?

You might miss out on promotions or even be at risk of losing your job. You can try to hide it for a while, but don’t doubt that long-term procrastination at work will almost certainly ruin your career.

5. Lower Self-Esteem

This is one of the vicious circles you might find yourself in. We tend to procrastinate because low self-esteem makes us feel that we won’t be able to get a task or project done the right way. Unfortunately, procrastinating only increases feelings of low self-esteem, making us doubt ourselves even more.

One study involving 426 college students found that “academic procrastination was negatively predicted by self-esteem, and self-control”[1].

Advertising

When we have low self-esteem, we hold ourselves back, feel unworthy of success, and begin to self-sabotage. Procrastination eats away your confidence, slowly but surely.

If this resonates with you, focus on building your self-esteem instead of holding on to the illusion that you should be able to do something, as this makes you force yourself into something when you are not ready.

6. Making Poor Decisions

Poor decision making is one of the worst effects of procrastination. When you procrastinate, you make decisions based on criteria that most likely wouldn’t be there if you didn’t procrastinate, like pressure to finally make a decision because time is running out.

Emotions heavily influence the decisions we make, and procrastination increases negative emotions, which can push us into making decisions that don’t serve us in the long run.

Instead of rushing through decisions while procrastinating, write out all the possibilities and find a calm moment to analyze the pros and cons of each.

7. Damage to Your Reputation

When you keep saying you will do something and you don’t, your reputation gets tarnished, as nobody wants empty promises. Besides damaging your own reputation, you are damaging your self-esteem and self-confidence. You will find that it gets easier to procrastinate each time because you are not surprising yourself anymore.

People could stop depending on you and hold back on offering you opportunities because they could be worried that you will simply procrastinate, leaving them to clean up the mess.

Advertising

Even if you already have a reputation of being a procrastinator, you can turn it around. Next time someone asks you for something, use all of the tools at your disposal to get it done on time. Each time you fulfill a request, your reputation will begin to build back up, which will lead to more opportunities and better relationships with those around you.

8. Risking Your Health

Among the effects of procrastination are mental health problems like stress and anxiety, and these in turn are linked to health issues. If your procrastination leads to feelings of depression, this will start to affect other areas of your life.

If you procrastinate too much with something, it will most likely start to stress you out and cause anxiety, especially when other people or things are involved, and all of this can lead to poor health outcomes.

Another way that procrastination can affect your health in the short term is when you continually put off check-ups and postpone appointments or things you need to do, such as exercise. The problem only gets worse and the consequences more dire.

Final Thoughts

The effects of procrastination may not seem all that bad at first, but over time, those effects can build, leading to stress, anxiety, broken dreams, and low self-esteem. Instead of letting procrastination take hold, take the time to develop time management techniques to help you deal with it when it appears.

In a study on procrastination interventions, researchers discovered that cognitive behavioral therapy significantly reduced procrastination and, furthermore, “reduced procrastination more strongly than the other types of interventions”[2]. If you find yourself continuing to struggle with procrastination, cognitive behavioral therapy may be a great option to try.

You can also check out this video to get started on changing your mindset around procrastination:

More on Overcoming the Effects of Procrastination

Featured photo credit: NordWood Themes via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next