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Why Afternoon Procrastination Happens And How To Deal With It

Why Afternoon Procrastination Happens And How To Deal With It

It’s 2:30pm and I’m procrastinating. The project is due by 5 o’clock and I can’t seem the find the motivation to get it done. This is a common problem for everyone. Whether working from home or an office, creating the next big startup or pushing papers for a corporation, we all procrastinate.

Why Afternoon Procrastination Happens

Tired

The biggest reason you’re tired is because of physical or mental fatigue. When you’re tired you don’t have the motivation to work, so you end up procrastinating.

Foggy Mind

When your mind is in a foggy state, it prevents you from thinking straight. A foggy mind can be a headache or information overload. Whatever the form, it’s hard to get anything done when your mind isn’t working right.

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No Motivation

If you’re not moving toward a goal, you can excuse myself from getting work done. You can do it tomorrow, right? If nothing is due or your to-do list is full of meaningless work, you might procrastinate.

Interruptions

Phone calls, emails, meetings or text messages can turn a quick break into an afternoon. If something urgent gets put on your desk, it could ruin the rest of your afternoon — it’s easy to slip into “why start if I know I’m going to get interrupted” mentality.

Ways to deal with Afternoon Procrastination

Now you have some ideas why afternoon procrastination happens. Try these strategies to help deal with it and get more done.

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Prioritize tasks

The most common reason afternoon procrastination hits is because your tasks are not clear. Writing down what you have to do and which tasks are most important can help you refocus and get back to work.

Set a timer

beat afternoon procrastination by setting a timer

    Set a timer for 25 minutes and try your best to complete a single task in that time. If you fail to complete the task, write it down and set another 25-minute timer. The idea is that if you define how long a task will take, you will get it done in that amount of time (or close to it). I usually procrastinate in the afternoon because I don’t have any expectations how long it will take me to get my work done for the day, and because of that, I will end up working all afternoon and probably not get anything done.

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    Take a break

    Sometimes it’s easy not to stop and let your mind rest. When you choose to intentionally take a break and allow yourself to not focus on anything, it allows you to relax and prepare for the rest of the work day.

    Drink water

    According to my doctor, we’re supposed to drink like 8 glasses of water per day. Even if you can’t chug down 8 glasses of water, you sure can get a glass or two down after lunch. Staying hydrated helps keep the mind clear and focused. All too often, afternoon procrastination comes from a foggy head which can be fixed with a glass of water.

    Have a snack (the right kind)

    Seeing that bag of Doritos may get you hungry, but junk food is the worst thing you can eat when trying to fight afternoon procrastination. Instead, choose nuts, fruit, or crackers. A light, healthy, snack can be just as helpful as a glass of water. The food offers a boost of (healthy) energy and also fights against a foggy mind.

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    Exercise at lunch

    Often when you’re able to get up and move around, your day is always better. When you go for a walk, it allows your brain to process the morning’s information and think through what you need to do the rest of the day. Exercise also works out the body from sitting in a chair all morning. Be careful not to over due it, because you want to make sure you have enough energy for the rest of the work day.

    Take a nap

    There are some days you just can’t overcome afternoon procrastination. You’ll go through everything you know to do and your body still doesn’t want to keep working. When that happens, you know it’s time to take a nap. You usually can recognize the need for a nap if you’ve slept poorly the night before, or you’re going through a major life decision or big project that is taking a lot of mental energy. Whatever the reason, set a timer for 20 or 40 minutes (depending on the available time) and lie down. Some days it’s not possible, but when it is, taking a nap really helps refresh the mind and get back to work when you wake up.

    What’s your biggest tip for dealing with afternoon procrastination? Let us know in the comments!

    Featured photo credit: Ahmad Hashim via flickr.com

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    Josh Medeski

    Front-End Developer

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

    16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

    The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

    How about a unique spin on things?

    These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

    1. Empty your mind.

    It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

    Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

    Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

    Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

    How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

    2. Keep certain days clear.

    Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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    This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

    3. Prioritize your work.

    Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

    Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

    Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

    How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    4. Chop up your time.

    Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

    5. Have a thinking position.

    Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

    What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

    6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

    To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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    Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

    7. Don’t try to do too much.

    OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

    8. Have a daily action plan.

    Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

    Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

    9. Do your most dreaded project first.

    Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

    10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

    The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

    11. Have a place devoted to work.

    If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

    But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

    Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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    Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

    12. Find your golden hour.

    You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

    Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

    Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

    Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

    13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

    It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

    By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

    Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

    14. Never stop.

    Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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    Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

    There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

    15. Be in tune with your body.

    Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

    16. Try different methods.

    Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

    It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

    Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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