How many times did you feel bad because you did not focus your attention on what was most important to you? How many time did you have to rush with your work in a deadline-induced panic all the while cursing yourself for not starting sooner? Have you ever failed to meet a deadline because you didn’t feel like getting down to work? How much time did you lose by postponing things “until tomorrow”? How many times did you think: “I’ll do it later”? If any of the above seem familiar, you may suffer from procrastination, a pathological tendency to postpone everything for later. It’s a common problem experienced by many, but luckily there are some clever ways to deal with it.
What is procrastination?
Procrastination is the habit of delaying or putting off tasks, especially the ones that should be addressed in priority. Ironically, these are usually the things you consider most important and it’s the fear of failing them that makes you avoid them. It’s a bit of an internal conflict between your rational self, which knows and understands that the sooner you get to grips with your responsibilities, the better off you’d be. Your more irrational self, on the other hand, expects gratification. Here and now. It encourages you to engage in activities you find less troublesome, challenging or tedious. Procrastination can damage your potential, hindering your performance and causing you to miss out on your goals.
Ways to tackle procrastination
Lots of people endlessly postpone getting down to work, because the sheer size of the task they need to face tends to overwhelms them. Therefore, a useful method of tackling procrastination is to divide the task into smaller parts. Focusing on one bit at a time seems less daunting to most people, but it still gets you closer to completing the task.
As you know, good work organization is crucial. A useful practice is to prepare a to-do list with the tasks that need to be completed. Decide which of them should be addressed immediately, and which are low-priority ones and focus on the first group. Try not to deviate too much from the list, so as not to get distracted.
If you feel you might lose focus on what’s most important, ask others for help. Why not turning to friends, family or colleagues to check up on you with your progress? It often happens that when you tell others about your goals, you feel more committed to completing them.
Give yourself a treat.
What makes procrastination especially difficult to beat, is the fact that the habit of putting things off reinforces itself. That’s because when you postpone a task you seem to gain the time for more enjoyable activities. You learn to associate procrastination with pleasure and the avoidance and sidestepping can go on forever. What can you do about it? Promise yourself a small reward every time you manage to accomplish a task on time. Getting down to work might be more palatable if you anticipate the treat. Imagining the feeling of joy and pride when crossing off the tasks from your to-do list can also effectively boost your motivation. Who knows? Perhaps once you realize how good it feels to actually finish things, procrastination will not seem so tempting anymore?
This one is also connected with good organization. Commit to your tasks and avoid activities that might disturb you. Switch off your mobile, if necessary, log out of social media and quit checking your mailbox all the time. Having TV on in the background might also be a bad idea. If you’re struggling, turn to technology to help you. Look through the useful apps we described here and here – perhaps some of them will prove useful to you. You can also give it a go with Procraster app, which comes with a wealth of features designed specifically to help you kick the habit of delaying and avoidance.
Before you can make efforts to deal with your procrastination, you must be aware of the problem in the first place. And only then can you start making changes in your life that are certainly not going to be easy. Well, kicking a bad habit is never easy, but it’s worth giving it a try, isn’t it?