The number one way to overcome procrastination is to break down a project and work on it a little every day. But sometimes even the best planning isn’t enough to overcome a basic human tendency. We all procrastinate to some degree and in some ways. That’s why we must do the following:
- Realize when we’re procrastinating and understand why.
- Identify the activities that we prefer to the tasks that we’re avoiding.
- Determine steps to manage and overcome our procrastination.
Why do you procrastinate? Do any of the following thoughts seem familiar?
The task is unpleasant. The task is difficult. I’m overwhelmed: too many tasks. I’m interrupted too often. I’m not organized enough. I don’t have the necessary information. I don’t have clear or written goals. I’m not in the mood. I’m not interested in the task. I don’t have time now. I don’t have the energy now. This isn’t due for a while.
What activities take you from the tasks that you put off? You may have some favorites—and your reasons may be keeping you from making the most of your potential. Take a moment to list the activities that you prefer to do when you have tasks scheduled. You may learn some interesting things about yourself.
Here are three tips to escape the tendency to procrastinate:
Work on the tasks in the morning: You probably have more energy and can focus better at that time. It’s tempting to handle all of the urgent matters and then, after you’ve put out the fires, to turn to the tasks you’ve scheduled. That’s probably the worst time to do them—if you get to them at all.
Break down your work into smaller parts: A human tendency is to start tasks that we perceive take short amounts of time. The number one way to overcome procrastination is to break your larger task into smaller ones that take about 20–30 minutes to complete. By completing smaller tasks, you’ll build confidence to get the job done. Remember: if the task looks easy and won’t take much time, human nature will cause you to choose that task before others
Cut down on interruptions: Interruptions derail us from getting things done. Try to limit interruptions so you can bring 100 percent focus and concentration on that “veggie.” One hour of uninterrupted time is like four “typical” hours you’re currently experiencing. Here are some strategies to help you:
- Block out time each day on your computer to get your veggies done.
- Defer the interruption by negotiating a better time for the activity.
- Let the phone call go to voice mail.
- Turn off your e-mail notification so you can’t see or hear it.
Reward yourself: Before you start that difficult or unpleasant task, think of a way to reward yourself when you complete it. People talk about improving the quality of their personal lives. Why not start by giving yourself mini-rewards that improve the quality of your personal life? Of course, you can always wait and hope until the end of the year!
“Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.”