Procrastination seems to be the plague of the modern workplace. Everyone has been there – looking at pictures of puppies, reading the news and doing personality quizzes instead of actual work. And unfortunately, the less you work, the less you want to work. But how do you get out of this vicious circle? Here are a few tried and true tips that genuinely work.
When you start your day, or even worse, a new project, without a very clear aim and a detailed plan to achieve it, it’s likely you will lose a huge amount of time. Not having a precise objective usually results in doing work that is neither very useful, nor fulfilling. Instead, keep your eyes on the prize. If you find that you are procrastinating, determine whether it’s followed by a feeling of aimlessness. Do you have a pressing feeling that a million tasks are waiting for you, and nothing you do even scratches the tip of the iceberg? If the answer is yes, the reason for your procrastination is probably very simple.
Most likely, you just lack a clearly organized structure. Make a list of everything that you need to do – today, this week, and this month. What are your main longterm goals, and how do these tasks help you reach them? When you think about each time period – day, week, month, or even project, what are your priorities? What tasks do you need to complete in order to move forward? If you focus on the big picture, instead of allowing yourself to be distracted by unimportant details, you will finally feel like what you are doing has a purpose. And that feeling of purpose and progress is the best motivator. If you are overwhelmed by this organizational task, perhaps all you need is a good planner system.
2. Stop sabotaging yourself
When a project feels too daunting, we’d rather delay it than face it. What follows is usually a whole array of procrastination techniques. Excuses lead the way (“I’ll do it as soon as I have more time”). Even when we finally start, we lack the self-confidence to tackle it fully. That means we normally just work on small chunks, then either move onto something else, or get distracted easily.
There are several steps to solving this problem. First of all, it’s important to really believe that you can do it. After all, why wouldn’t you? The least you can do is try your best. To make the project less daunting, divide it into smaller chunks. That way, you can work on manageable, but still useful tasks. Every time you tick one off your list, you’ll know that you are a step closer to completion.
Finally – and this might be the hardest step of all – get rid of distractions. Distractions come in all shapes. If it’s your colleagues – then put on your headphones to let them know you don’t want to be disturbed. If it’s your phone – turn it off. The most common distraction is social media. An idea to improve productivity is to unplug while you’re working. You might think there’s not much harm in checking Facebook for only five minutes. But the truth is that even if it’s only five minutes, the distraction disrupts your flow of thought, and it takes you a lot more time to get back to the same level of concentration.
3. Face your fears
Procrastination might seem like laziness, but it’s usually just cleverly disguised fear of failure. You can’t fail if you never even tried, right? But do you really want to let fear guide you? Do you want to allow anxiety to rob you of your chance at success? Take a long hard look within, and ask yourself: what am I afraid of? What is the worst that could happen? Chances are, you won’t fail at all. Even if the results are not up to the exact standards you set, you will know that you are able to achieve your goals. And that is a priceless experience. It certainly beats wasting time on an online game.
We all procrastinate sometimes. If you notice that it’s turning into a consistent problem, it’s time to determine the cause and act on it. Set realistic goals for yourself, allocate each task a reasonable amount of time, and set off. You can even turn it into a game. Why not make a deal with yourself? Reward yourself with a small treat for every task you finish without putting it off. In the end, you will become much more productive. But not only that: you will also develop your self-esteem, work skills and ability to focus. Removing procrastination from your life might just be the push you need to finally become the best possible version of yourself.