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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

Blogger, Consultant, and Author

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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