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15 Useful Tips To Defeat Procrastination, Once And For All

15 Useful Tips To Defeat Procrastination, Once And For All

Do you procrastinate at home, work or school? Are you tired of wasting time and want to get things done once and for all? Whether we care to admit it or not, we all procrastinate from time to time. It’s just a part of human nature!

Fortunately, there are ways to defeat the beat of procrastination. These fifteen tips will help you get started in the right direction.

1. Request an external deadline.

Do you do you work better when you’re working under a deadline? Even if you do set deadlines for yourself, you might find it’s not enough to help you get things done. Why not switch things around and ask for an external deadline instead? If you’re working with others, ask when you need to complete a task or project. If you’re working alone, ask a close friend or family member to set an arbitrary deadline. This way, you have a deadline and can be held accountable for your actions.

2. Break away from people who are bad influences on you.

Hanging out with people who help you procrastinate, or otherwise distract you from your responsibilities can be tricky. You may voluntarily want to spend time with these people, but you may find it’s harder to get things done when you hang out with them or when they are around. Consider limiting your time spend around these people when you need to accomplish tasks, when you are under deadline, or when you are otherwise finding it difficult to focus on your work.

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3. Update your work materials or equipment.

An old computer that takes forever to load, a pair of scissors that makes cutting paper a chore, a broken garage door… You might not realize it, but your reluctance in using a particular piece of equipment, might be preventing you from finishing your work. Think about it for a moment. Do you tend to avoid particular tasks or chores because you absolutely cannot stand using a particular tool or piece of equipment? Try either updating, sharpening or replacing this obstacle so you can get on with your work.

4. Eliminate distractions in your immediate environment.

Do you know what distracts you as you work or when you are procrastinating? You might always find something to do such as checking Facebook or Pinterest, watching television, checking your emails and so on. Sounds familiar? Reduce temptation as you work by purposefully eliminating or reducing distractions. In the examples above, you could disconnect from the Internet, log off of your accounts and email, or try working in a completely different environment.

5. Work together with a friend or colleague.

If you’re having trouble sitting down so you can actually get your work done, try working side by side with a friend or colleague. You can schedule a time to work and each bring a piece of work which you’re having a difficult time completing. Sometimes all you need to get your work done is a bit of companionship and the knowledge that someone else is working on something they don’t particularly want to work on either.

6. Change your environment.

Are you a bit too comfortable when you work from home or at your office? Maybe things are the other way around and you are wholly uncomfortable. Perhaps things are a bit too noisy, too quiet, too cold or too hot for your taste. If this is the case you might want to shake things up with a change in scenery or in your immediate environment. You could try working in a coffee shop, in a local park, in a library or another area of your home or office.

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7. Promise something before you create it.

Perhaps you’ve been meaning to write a blogging tutorial, deliver a motivational speech to your weekly volunteer group or a basket of home-baked treats for a charity bake sale. Instead of letting things drag on any further, make a promise to deliver something before you actually start working on it. This not only sets a deadline, but also holds you accountable in front of others. There’s nothing left for you to do but get to work.

8. Get outside the front door.

Sometimes all you need to get moving with your work is to simply get your body moving. All you have to do is turn your attention from your mind to your body, and put your body into action. Let’s say you have to run some errands. Instead of fussing about it, you could just put on your shoes and coat, pick up your bag or purse, gather up any related items you’ll need, open the front the door and step outside. It would be silly for you to turn around at this point in time as you’re now literally one step closer to completing your task.

9. Choose three simple tasks to work on right now.

Are you overwhelmed with a large project? Instead of procrastinating any further, spring into action by breaking your work down into smaller, more manageable tasks. What project do you have going on right now that seems to be overwhelming? What three small tasks could you do right now? These really can be simple things, such as placing a phone call, doing a quick bit of research online, or making sure you have the right materials to begin your project.

10. Learn a new skill.

When was the last time you learned a new skill to help you with your work? For example, you might be procrastinating when it comes to working on your company’s website because you don’t know anything about SEO. Educating yourself about something, even the smallest bit of information, can make you feel more competent…and also knowledgeable. It’s always okay to feel a bit scared or unsure when you’re working on something new, but you shouldn’t let it prevent you from getting your work done.

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11. Set aside a specific amount of time to do something.

This is an oldie but a goodie: set a deadline for your work. Let’s say you have a personal project you’d like to complete, such as putting together your family tree. However, you never seem to get around to do it. You could take action by setting a final deadline for the project and entering in specific amounts of time in your calendar for you to do your research.

12. Layout all the tools you’ll need to begin.

Get a jump on your work by pulling out all the materials or tools you’ll need to work on a particular project or task. Once you take everything out and set everything up, there’s nothing left for you to do but to begin. When it comes to finally baking a cake for your Aunt’s Mary’s birthday, simply pull out the flour, eggs, butter, sugar, baking soda and powder, preheat the oven, grease the cake pans and get baking. You’ve already put in so much work getting things ready, you might as well finish the task at hand.

13. Figure out why you’re procrastinating.

Do you know why you’re procrastinating? You might feel lazy, bored, scared and unsure of yourself or any other number of emotions. However, it’s quite different when you actually identify the thing that is the source of your procrastination. Be honest with yourself. What do you feel? Why are avoiding your work? Once you hone in on the issue at hand, you can better find a solution that is tailored to helping you solve your problem.

14. Attack your work first thing in the morning.

Make the most out of your mornings and take on any particularly troublesome work first thing. You’ll be freshly rested, energized and ready to take on the day and can channel this energy into finally achieving that which you’ve been putting off for week after week. Once you’re done, you’ll have your entire day ahead of you, free and clear.

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15. Just do it!

Sometimes in life you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do. Don’t think twice about the tasks or work you need to complete. Tell yourself, “I’m going to do this,” get your materials ready, take a deep breath and dive right in. You’ll feel a lot better knowing you triumphed against procrastination and finished what you set out do.

How do you know when you start to procrastinate at work, home or school? What task or item are you looking forward to finally crossing off your to-do list? Leave a comment below.

Learn how to complete any overwhelming project effectively with these tips here.

Featured photo credit: katie ruth via compfight.com

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Rashelle Isip

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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