There are days when I just don’t want to get anything done. It’s been a particular problem for me in these early weeks of 2013. I’ve been unwell and unmotivated, and it’s been easy to shrug off work. Unfortunately, procrastination rarely serves me (or anyone) well. It means less work done, and usually means less money, if your compensation is tied to what you do. Plus, when you reach the breaking point, where you have to do something, you end up feeling frazzled as you rush to catch up.
How to Stop Procrastinating
If you have problems with procrastination, here are 5 things you can do to reduce the way you put things off.
1. Acknowledge the Issue
The first step is acknowledging the issue, and understanding the impact it is having on your life. What can’t you enjoy because you have been procrastinating? Take a look at how putting off the important things affects you, your family, your other relationships, and your finances. Once you understand how procrastination affects your life, it can provide you with motivation to make changes — at least some small changes.
This step may sounds familiar because it is also the first step to fixing your financial problems.
2. Focus on the Most Important Task
One of the reasons I procrastinate is that I have become overwhelmed by the work piling up. When you look at everything you have to do, it is harder to get started. It’s so much easier to dive into a book, or click around aimlessly on Facebook rather than face the accumulated work. Instead, focus on the most important task you need to do. Get that taken care of. You’ll have something important finished, and the victory can get you back into “work mode.”
Then, tackle the next important task. Breaking it down makes it seem more manageable. This sounds a lot like Debt Snowball doesn’t it?
3. Find a Way to Make it a Game or a Challenge
You might be able to get over the procrastination if you can make your task a game, or a challenge. See how much clutter you can get rid of in the next hour. See if you can go for the next 90 minutes just focusing on the writing you need to do (this is something I do). Set a timer, and create a challenge, and see what you can get done. It makes your work a little more like a game than work, and you’ll improve your productivity.
4. Start When you Feel Fresh
One of the best things you can do is get started when you feel fresh. I do most of my work in blocks of time when I feel energetic. Don’t let that fresh feeling go to waste. When you get in the groove do as much as you can. If you are most effective in the mornings, try to do most of your work then. I do my best to finish as much as I can before lunch time.
When we are tired and run down, it’s easier to get distracted and find reasons to procrastinate. Get to it when you feel up to the task, and before you start losing steam. Make a conscious decision to work when you still have the discipline to follow through. You’ll procrastinate less, and you’ll have other times of the day to do the things you really enjoy.
5. Schedule Down Time
Deal with procrastination by scheduling it in. While it can help to do your work in chunks, you also need to take a break sometimes. Schedule in regular breaks to help you re-charge. I often take a mid-morning break, just to read for 15 minutes, or enjoy a healthy snack. If lunch time comes, and I’m not done with my work, I schedule a full hour for lunch to unwind a little more and to re-set. Sometimes, taking a break can bring you back ready to get more done.
If you find your mind wandering, and discover that you are tired of what you are working on, it might be time to leave it and do something else for a little while.
Scheduling in your down time can also be helpful since it can provide you with something to look forward to. If you know that your “social media” time is coming up later, you might be less inclined to wander over to Twitter as a procrastination tool. Figure out the most common reasons you procrastinate, and then add those activities to your schedule so that you know they are coming up.
What are your tips for reducing procrastination?
Photo by hang in there.