I will admit, if there were an Olympic event for procrastination, I’d win the Gold every time. It’s not something I aspire to do. I think it’s actually in my genetic code. I must consistently remind myself not to dawdle or put tasks aside. Because it’s such a struggle for me, I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few years researching ways to avoid procrastination and teaching myself new strategies for staying on task. In fact, I have definitely done this research as a way of procrastinating when I should be doing other things!
Here are some of my top rules for combatting procrastination that I would like to share with you.
Identify the problem:
Is the project daunting or too boring? Do you have too many small projects and you don’t know where to start? Are you distracted by something? Are you not comfortable in your workspace? Does looking at your computer screen give you a headache? Once you know what is keeping you from completing your tasks, you will be able to find a solution.
Give yourself a confidence boost:
Get 3-4 small tasks (Anything that can be done in 5 minutes or less) out of the way to start your day. This makes you feel accomplished and can give you the motivation to tackle the rest of the day.
Get the worst thing over with:
Once you have gotten a few simple/quick tasks under your belt for the day, do the one thing on your list you’re dreading the most. This could be a task that is going to be time-consuming or utilize a lot of brain power that you might not be in the mood to use. Carve out the time and commit to getting that one thing done. Everything after that will seem like a piece of cake.
Give yourself a scheduled break, then Restart your day:
This could be after lunch, or after any down time. Refocus and get back to your to-do’s. You may need to use the beginning of this time to reassess what is left to accomplish in the day and reallocate some lower priority items to the following day.
Break Down the Project:
If your large tasks have many components to them, break them down into manageable parts, so the whole thing does not seem so daunting.
Make a Game of it:
Set a timer for a designated time. Example: my 30-minute clean routine: 6 rooms in the house, 5 minutes each, clean as much as possible.
De-clutter your workspace:
It is easier to be much more efficient and effective with your work when you know where everything is, can access your work materials, and have plenty of room to maneuver around your workspace.
Give yourself a break, a snack, or whatever motivates you whenever you reach milestones in your day.
Most importantly, it is critical to set yourself up for the type of life you want to live. If you don’t like your job, or you aren’t happy with the way your home functions for you, make the change that encourages you to get things done every day. There will always be the occasional dreaded task that you never like to do. But if those are few and far between, procrastination will be a rarity for you. Do what you love. Spend time with the people who propel you forward. Focus on what’s important and give yourself some respite when you can. What are some of your favorite ways to keep moving forward with your day?