8 tips to banish procrastination for good
No matter how ‘on it’ you are as a person we’re all guilty of procrastinating from time to time. Whether it’s chasing an unpaid invoice or finishing that report, sometimes it’s easier to just put it off and hope it miraculously goes away.
Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t go away, and you’re left in a hot mess. Overthinking and losing sleep because of an aversion to a task you know you’re capable of completing.
If this sounds like you, fear not. We’ve compiled the best ways to banish procrastination for good and get you back on track.
Understand that it’s not such a big deal
When you’re in the thick of procrastinating, it’s easy to catastrophise every detail and believe that the world is on fire. It’s not. And no matter how unbearable the task is, as long as nobody’s life is danger, you will come out fine.
In reality, challenge and responsibility are good for the soul. And any thoughts of guilt or shame will soon wash away and you’ll move swiftly on wondering why you got so worked up.
Repeat: “I’ve been here before, and I'm fine."
Get to know the science
Believe it or not, procrastination is a pretty natural human condition. It’s simply an emotional reaction to something we’d rather not do. And everyone is guilty of it.
When presented with potentially stressful situations, the emotional part of your brain (the limbic system) has a habit of overriding the rational part of your brain (the prefrontal cortex).
This means that logic and rationale go out of the window, and emotions start to run the show. When you notice this shutdown happening, pause, notice the pattern, and move forward with the task at hand.
Make a start – no matter how small
The idea of starting a task is often more daunting than doing the task itself. Don’t commit yourself for hours at a time, break it down into manageable chunks. See what you can get done in 15 minutes and take it from there. You might surprise yourself once you get into the flow.
If it’s work-related, gather everything you need to get the job done. Compile your research, create your files and organise them into folders. Take the time to understand your brief and prepare any questions.
Before you know it, baby steps will develop into full-blown strides and it’ll be onto the next one. Tick.
Hard work is hard, so it’s logical that you treat yourself when you achieve what you set out to achieve. When you subconsciously know that indulgence is only one step away, you’re more likely to get on with it.
Eventually, procrastination will feel more like punishment and old habits will die hard.
Dust off the calendar
Ah, tomorrow. That mysterious land where 99% of all human productivity and motivation is stored. Only we all know nothing actually happens there.
It’s just an excuse to buy yourself more time to do the important stuff. Like scroll through Facebook or watch another episode of Prison Break.
The good news is, nobody is going to take away your Netflix. The bad news is, you need better time management. Use a calendar to block out more time than you need for important tasks, just like you would a meeting.
That way, everything gets done and your free time is exactly that. Win-win.
Be kinder to yourself
Don’t even call it procrastination. Call it being human. Forgive yourself for doing it in the past, and forgive yourself for doing it now.
Dwelling on the past or the future will only feed your anxiety and distract you from the present. Which is exactly where you need to be to progress.
If you’ve noticed a pattern in your reasoning for putting off work, brainstorm things you could do to get 5% closer to your goal next time.
Put your phone away
You don’t need somebody to tell you that phones can be a distraction. Incessant social media and email checking is a global epidemic.
When you notice yourself jumping in and out of work with little progress, disconnect for a while.
Take a walk and give yourself some headspace. When you give your brain a break from the barrage of information, the fog lifts, and decision-making gets easier.
Accountability is key
One of the worst ways to deal with procrastination is to retreat inside your own world and shut out the task.
Learn to put your pride to one side and ask someone for help. Then make it clear that you will return the favour. Once you’ve entered into a commitment to deliver the work, you’re far more likely to follow through with it.
That’s the beauty of co-working spaces like workinc. You’ll work alongside like-minded people who share the challenges you’re facing. Giving you space to collaborate and squash procrastination for good.
You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Teamwork makes the dream work. You get the idea.
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