We’ve all done it before. You have an important task to do, but you can’t bring yourself to do it until the last night. Eventually, the deadline comes, and you complete the task, but you’ve wasted a lot of time and caused yourself much-unneeded anxiety in the process.
Procrastination seems harmless at first, but when you look back after a year (or even a day), you realize that you could’ve accomplished so much more. Don’t live with those regrets. By shaking off your procrastination tendencies for good—all things will become more manageable.
The most obvious place that procrastination will bite you in the butt is in your business. But you will want to begin eliminating procrastination in all areas of your life, not just your business because procrastination is like the common cold—it spreads. The following tips will help you begin your transformation:
1. Change Your Habits
The first toward abolishing procrastination merely means changing or modifying your habits. A lot of procrastination has to do with your energy levels, and a few habit changes can help you stay energized better during the day.
For starters, work on your sleeping schedule and your diet. When you’re getting enough sleep and putting the right nutrients into your body, you’ll have the physical and emotional energy to tackle much more difficult tasks—at least you’ll feel like you can—and that’s half the battle (and it IS a battle). It’s a simple and cliche solution, but it will really work.
Other habits include organization, posture, and mental health practices (I just sat up straighter and smiled, try it). Any positive habit you can instill in yourself will help you shrug off procrastination as you put your body and mind in the right place.
2. Report Your Progress
Accountability goes a long way toward turning procrastination into productivity. When you have someone to report to, you’re more likely to kick yourself into gear to avoid letting them down. Additionally, they’ll be able to check in on you and make sure you’re making progress. Even more—the people you report to—including yourself—will be able to depend on you.
Who you choose to hold you accountable depends on the nature of the task you keep procrastinating. For work-related tasks, you probably have a team leader or manager that already oversees you. If you don’t report to anyone directly, ask someone if they can help you stay accountable to your projects.
For personal duties, who do you choose to keep you accountable? If you’re doing something like trying to lose weight, a close friend or a spouse will make you a good workout partner—or at least they can check to see if you accomplished your goals. You can report daily exercise and meals using an app and coordinate times to hit the gym together using your Calendar.
3. Create a Sense of Urgency
The most viewed Ted Talk on YouTube is called “Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator.” Presenter Tim Urban uses hilarious and relatable analogies to dissect the mind of a procrastinator. It’s a must-see presentation, but we’ll only take out one important detail for this article. Urban states that nothing will get a procrastinator moving like a sense of urgency.
You have likely felt the urgency that Urban describes when a deadline was looming. You might have known about a school assignment all week long, but the sense of urgency didn’t kick in until the night before. To stop this cycle from continuing, create your own urgency.
Incentives are a solid way to spur a sense of urgency when all else fails. You can promise yourself a nice treat or a much-needed break if and only if you complete that task you’ve been avoiding all day. It works kind of like the carrot-on-a-stick, but you end up with the carrot after your labor.
4. Break Down Your Tasks
One of the examples that Tim Urban used in his presentation was his college thesis. Even though he had been given months to work on this 90-page assignment, he couldn’t even bring himself to begin the project until three days before the deadline.
To avoid the stress and anxiety Urban must have felt during those short days of cramming and sleepless nights, try breaking down your large tasks and projects. As you divide up large tasks into more manageable pieces, you can set short-term deadlines to complete pieces of the project.
Let’s take that thesis, for example. If you have to write 90 pages over three months, it’ll be easier to plan out a page a day. That already sounds much more feasible and has lots of little deadlines to spur some urgency in your work ethic.
5. Schedule Your Breaks
Procrastination doesn’t only occur over long periods of time. You can procrastinate a task until the end of the day or even the end of the hour. While these small doses of procrastination might seem less significant, they really add up over time and drag your productivity through the mud.
What is it that causes you to procrastinate throughout the day? For most, it may be an itching desire to scroll through social media or check in on a mobile game. If you keep picking up your phone throughout the day, you’ll inevitably push back your deadlines until the end of the day. You’ll waste a lot of hours in this cycle.
Instead of allowing your phone or other distractions to control you in this way, try scheduling your breaks with your Calendar. Then, concentrate your efforts on not checking phone notifications or wandering for a snack until your scheduled break occurs. Then, instead of allowing yourself to be pulled toward every distraction for endless amounts of time, you’ll ensure that you get at least something done before you kick your feet up.
6. Visualize Your Goals
Most people have goals and aspirations in life. However, few people take the initiative to chase them down. Procrastination is a big reason why those dreams remain unfulfilled.
One way to stop procrastinating on your goals is to visualize them. This could be as simple as putting a picture of your family or your dream home at your workstation. The constant visual reminder will help motivate you to push forward even when your subconscious wants to continue pushing work back.
You can accomplish so much more with your life if you’re able to overcome procrastination. It will be a long journey, but small improvements made every day will set the stage for an incredibly successful and event-filled 2022. You don’t want to procrastinate on ending procrastination. You can do this—and good luck!
By Hunter Meine