Are you one of those people who need to beat procrastination? If you’ve found yourself stressed out the night before a big deadline because you waited too long to get started you’re not alone. As many as 20% of American adults procrastinate and consider themselves chronic procrastinators.
Even if you aren’t a “chronic” procrastinator, you still probably start working on something too close to the deadline.
Procrastination eats away at productivity and prevents you from making real progress. It may not be an issue at the moment, but eventually, it will catch up to you.
Steps to beat procrastination
Below is a 7-step guide to eliminating procrastination from your life. Think about how much better you’ll feel when you have more time to get things done.
1. Get rid of distractions
Weeding out distractions may sound easy, but it takes real dedication to pay attention to the little things that can quickly eat away at your day.
To figure out what is causing you to procrastinate, pay attention to the ways your attention wanders.
It’s surprising how much time your phone takes away from your productivity. Just checking notifications from social media adds up to a lot of time over the course of the day.
Similarly, if you work at home, maybe there are too many tempting books, games, television shows, or even furry pets near you.
Figure out which things distract you the most and eliminate them from your workspace.
While you’re working on a project stay away from hopping on social media.
Sometimes music can help you focus, so if you can listen to music while working, do that to get work done.
Try stepping out of your comfort zone, and you’ll see significant progress. For example, you may be surprised that you work better in the background noise of a coffee shop than at home where more personal distractions come up.
2. Break down big tasks into smaller ones
Breaking down big tasks into smaller jobs is an easy way to make sure they get done and beat procrastination.
When you’re thinking about all of the steps a huge project entails it’s easy to get scared. You probably feel like it’s impossible to get everything done before you’ve even started.
When you take a big project and split it into manageable pieces, you’ll feel much better as the pieces fall into place.
For example, if you have a graphic design project that is due, you might want to split it up like this:
- Jot down some notes on what your client wants
- Save the color scheme, fonts, and other vital details on the program
- Download relevant images
- Make sure your software is up to date
- Set a deadline to ensure everything gets done on time
When you check something off your list, you’ll feel a sense of progress while you’re working away.
Breaking down big tasks into smaller ones will also help you gauge productivity and figure out how long each task takes you to complete.
3. Do one thing at a time
If you followed our advice from #2, then you know that splitting big projects into smaller pieces has serious benefits.
You may have heard that multitasking is the best way to accomplish tasks, but we’re here to tell you that’s a complete myth.
Most people find it’s hard to multitask. It’s better to commit yourself to one thing at a time.
Limiting your focus to each task individually allows you to move forward with a sense of accomplishment.
4. Visualize the future you want
Why are you doing all of this hard work anyway?
If you don’t have a long term goal in mind, you should get one. Once you know what you’re working towards, you can visualize how completed tasks lead to rewards.
Try picturing yourself at the beach reading a good book while your kids play in the sand. Think about your new home and how it makes you feel when you’re relaxing on a comfy sofa.
Don’t allow fear to get in the way of following through and visualizing your future.
Fear is a powerful emotion that can result in you making excuse after excuse on why you didn’t get a particular task done.
Harness your fear. Vow to yourself that you will get the future you want.
To get there, visualize your future and implement change.
5. Have friends and family keep you accountable
Sometimes having a support system who can keep you accountable does wonders.
If you tell a spouse or friend that you have a deadline in mind, just knowing that someone is going to ask if you completed the job on time will help you stay committed and help you beat procrastination.
Take it one step further and ask the people who are keeping you accountable to check in with you regularly.
Knowing they are going to ask you how the project is going will pressure you to get the job done on time,
With the combination of a deadline and people who encourage you to stay on course, your productivity will most definitely improve.
6. Stop focusing on past failures
If you find yourself getting stuck in the past, that may be part of the reason why you’re procrastinating and not getting work done.
Unfortunately, if you feel bad the more you will procrastinate and if you feel bad about procrastinating you’ll continue to put the job off.
Ask yourself if you’re being overly ambitious. Are you trying too hard to improve on a past project? Are you trying to exceed expectations beyond a reasonable horizon? Don’t fall into the trap of investing in a project so heavily that you forget how to live.
Don’t be a bully. Stop telling yourself what you ‘should’ accomplish or ‘have to do.’ Give yourself some grace and realize not everything is going to go perfectly.
Also, don’t dwell on how you feel when you don’t complete a task; think about how wonderful it feels when you finish something.
Immerse yourself in the positivity of accomplishment, and you’ll feel like getting more done.
7. Start today
Don’t wait to work on being productive when you can start today.
The more you put it off, the more likely your old habits of being lazy may kick in again.
But, don’t put so much pressure on yourself to get so many things done at once that you burn out.
Even if the progress is slow, as long as you’re moving forward in the right direction you’re on your way.
You can also try new methods of planning and sticking to a schedule by setting up an online calendar or writing things down in a planner. Applying little techniques like this can vastly improve your productivity.
Start today by taking one step at a time and look forward to the many rewards to come.
Procrastinating too much makes you feel stressed out and can destroy your happiness. In some cases, it can even cause disease and illness.
These seven strategies we just covered will help you get past the excuses. You deserve to implement positive decisions that will help stop procrastination in its tracks.
Get excited because once you stop procrastinating you’ll achieve goals and make room for growth. Don’t delay any longer when you can start today.
Kick procrastination to the curb, and you’ll eventually eliminate it from your life.
About the Author
Ryan Sundling is a Group Marketing Manager at Cardinal Group Management. He has over ten years of experience in the student housing industry and works with Dwell Stadium View on a daily basis to help them with their marketing efforts.