Ahhhh yes, I love the feeling of “stealing a moment” when I have another task ahead of me. It doesn’t matter what the task is. In fact, I set my alarm clock to go off early so I can feel like I had a few extra minutes of sleep. It’s the feeling of a secret indulgence, like the first bite of a piece of chocolate that I’ve been craving for a few weeks.
The problem arises when those stolen moments turn into the way it is – causing you to have a list of unfinished tasks. This is something that many people battle with. And even though they recognize the feeling of anxiety that can come in the end, it remains a part of their routine. In this article, I discuss ways to end procrastination.
What is procrastination?
Procrastination is defined as the action of delaying or postponing something. If you ask people about it, you will find that many of them procrastinate at times. As I sit here typing this article, the day of the deadline, a date that I’ve known for at least a month, I shake my head at the almost laughable coincidence of it all!
I know that once in a while, everyone puts certain things off. In my research, I’ve found that about 20% of American adults are chronic procrastinators. Yikes! That’s right, 20% are waiting until the last minute to complete a project, or to get the yard work out of the way. So how does one break the cycle?
It starts by giving some thought to the topic.
What to do when you catch yourself procrastinating…
If you want to figure out the cause of your delayed work cycle, ask yourself questions like these:
- Why am I prolonging the task?
- How will I feel if I’m stressed for time in the end?
- What are the repercussions of missing the deadline? (That feeling SUCKS big time!)
- Is there something that I’m afraid of?
- Is the project boring, intimidating or (________)?
While the answer may not offer a solution, it will help you gain clarity as to what is in your way. That is half the battle won.
The next part is figuring out how to motivate yourself to stop the last-minute habit. Now it does occur to me that for some people, procrastination is simply because they feel the task is easy and they will be able to get it done by the deadline (man, this sounds familiar to me), this may be true, imagine how much more you could offer the task if you gave yourself more time. There actually is a difference between a good job, and an excellent one. Now if excellent doesn’t entice you – read on, I have a few more things to share that may help you release your procrastinating ways.
More Tips for Procrastinators
- Think about things differently.
Truthfully, procrastination is a matter of how you think about things. Oftentimes we put things off because they may not be enjoyable and we are anticipating a negative outcome. The first thing we have to know is whether or not that is really true. And if so, how can we do it in a way that makes it better. Can you change your work environment and work on a project at a park or coffee shop for a few hours? Can you enlist the help of a friend you enjoy spending time with to help make doing this deed more pleasant? What can you do to make this more fun? If you give yourself a moment to think about it, I’m sure you can come up with something that helps make the job more palatable. Incidentally, I recall having to terminate a particularly difficult employee. I gave this a lot of thought and once the deed was done, that employee left my office thanking me. Why? Because I managed to terminate them and helped them see that they now had more time to look for something more suitable. I reminded them that they needed to be happy at work and it was clear they weren’t. And this was all absolutely true – so we both felt great.
- End the Distractions.
Get rid of anything that beeps, buzzes or vibrates! I find that background music with words is distracting when I’m writing. Could this also be a challenge for you? Notifications can be distracting, especially when it’s the latest picture of a meal eaten by a coworker from 3 years ago.
- Learn to prioritize.
It seems like many people are very busy with all sorts of things to do. Many will say to get the quick things out of the way. That can work sometimes, but you must remember, something quick to do may not be urgent. When you don’t plan properly, you can end up doing quick things all day and never get to the project that needs more time.
- Break big projects down.
When a project is more complex, it makes sense to break it into pieces. As an example, if you have an article to write (hahahaha) you may estimate that it’s a 3-hour project. Plan on working for 20-30 mins at a time a week before instead of all at once. Some projects may require research or enlisting help – such as installing a door. So again, break the project into smaller, easier pieces and across several days.
- Be mindful of your health.
Be sure that you are well-rested and be considerate if you have any underlying health condition that interrupts your ability to get things done. Medications and chronic illness may cause you to need more time to get things done. And if by chance you suffer from ADHD, depression or something similar, you may not be able to guarantee how you will feel from day to day. Be kind to yourself and start your projects early, completing a bit at a time.
- Consider the cost.
If nothing seems to get you moving, seriously think about the cost of your procrastination. You could lose a contract, let down your team or worse, cost a price that someone else has to pay. No one enjoys the feeling of letting someone else down.
It’s hard to imagine that any coach will be happy to be known as someone that procrastinates. I know for myself, the frustration and anxiety are emotions I’m happy to let go of. If you find that you would like to let go of procrastinating, try one of the methods mentioned. Hopefully, they will help you remain ignited while completing tasks that you tend to put off.