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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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