How to Stop Procrastinating and Get Where You Need to Be
Ask any one of your friends or family members and they tell you the countless times they have procrastinated and waited until the last moment to finish whatever they were working on. If anyone tells you they have never had this problem, they are lying to themselves. Procrastination deals with individuals deferring a difficult task for another time and repeating this process until a viscous cycle emerges. This can lead to simpler tasks being avoided or deferred to a later time.
Why We Procrastinate
The reasons people procrastinate are varied.
- An individual may rely on their current mood in deciding their actions and comment "I'm just not feeling it today" or "I'm not in the mood". We all go through periods of feeling low and unmotivated but as you will find out, the best way to overcome that is finishing a task and feeling a sense of accomplishment and self-worth.
- Distractions, particularly the cell phone, has become such a huge deterrent for people of all ages. Messaging your friends, playing games, searching the web, and everything in between, can be done so conveniently that its no surprise how much of a distraction you cell phone can be.
- Poor organization of your workplace and time will limit the amount of the things you can accomplish. Not knowing which task to start first and for how long before you jump to the next one can make a person feel overwhelmed and disinterested in even attempting to start.
- Low self esteem or lack of confidence in your abilities can deter a person if they believe their going to fail or not perform to the best of their ability. If you don't start something, you can't fail is the mindset that protects a person's self esteem. The problem with this train of thought is people view failure as something to avoid instead of an opportunity to improve and grow as a person. The outcome may not be exactly what you had in mind but that's OK, you can always get better so as long as you keep trying.
Rely on the people around you. Choose a close friend/s or family member/s and disclose your daily schedule to them. This can give you the incentive to start and finish your tasks if you already announced it to someone that you would. The incentive being you want to avoid being called a liar or seen as a disappointment.
- Start with a difficult task. Start the day with a task you usually save for last because it requires the most work. By finishing that task, you free your mind to focus on the simpler and smaller tasks that don't seem as overwhelming as before. Also, that sense of accomplishment from finishing the first task may give you the confidence you need to finish tasks equally as difficult. A momentum starts to build to a point where you stop thinking and start doing.
- Don't work non-stop (unless you Liam Neeson). Whether it be a small task you finished in less than 15 minutes or a 2 hour plunge, take the time to reward yourself because you earned it. A 10 minute break to browse your phone or stalk someone on Facebook (you know who you are) will let you get in your technology fix and hopefully keep you satisfied until the next break. I recommend setting a timer for your break because 10 or even 15 minutes can go by fast if your not paying attention. besides taking a break to reward yourself, you can also take a break if you get stuck on a problem or ran out of ideas for a particular task. Go for a walk to clear your head and focus on something else. By the time you come back, you may get your second wind.
- Get organized. Easier said than done but lets give it a go. Write down on a piece of paper (no phone) of all the major things to be done. Start with the most difficult task at the top and work your way down with the easiest task at the bottom. Put a rough time frame beside each task. The time is there to keep you working at a certain pace in order to finish. Next, look for an area to work that is quiet and away from distractions. If you are at work, remove as many distractions as you can such as your cell phone. Assemble all the items you will need to do your work and place them around your work space. Avoid consistently getting up or walking around because it will derail your momentum and focus.
- Lastly, make a routine out of your daily activities, not just what you have to accomplish. Wake up at a certain time, get ready and eat breakfast, work out for an hour, Write down and organize the daily tasks, Work for a certain number of hours (say 2 hours), have lunch, start working again, and so on. Repeat a set up that works for you. After awhile, you will start and end everyday with that routine.
Procrastination can prevent even the most talented and gifted individuals from achieving their goals and desires. Everyone at some point has dealt with it but not everyone has been able to overcome it. With consistent effort and willingness to change, i hope this article helps you achieve your goals.