9 Ways to Stop Procrastinating — NOW!
Postponing until tomorrow what you could do today might be your way of coping when you're overwhelmed or simply not interested in a particular task. However, the fact that you don't want to tackle an assignment doesn't change the fact that you have to. (See also: Secrets to Self-Motivation)
We all deal with procrastination from time-to-time — it's a common action (or inaction). Even so, procrastination can gradually become a chronic problem, ultimately impacting your ability to reach goals and get things done.
Fortunately, this behavior doesn't have to take over your life. Here are nine ways to stop procrastinating.
1. Break Down Projects
Some people procrastinate starting a project — any project, whether at work or around the house — because they don't know where to begin. However, it might help to break your assignments into smaller, manageable pieces.
As a whole, a task or assignment might seem too big to handle, which can be overwhelming at best. But if you take a task and divide it into three of four smaller tasks, the assignment might not seem as scary. This can allay any fears and motivate you to get started.
2. Write a To-Do List
I know how hard it is to stay focused during the day. And for me, procrastination is more common on the days that I don't have a set schedule. Mentally I know what needs to get done. But if I don't assign each task to an hour block, I often start my day later than I should. However, planning each day in advance helps. (See also: How to Create a Reasonable To-Do List)
This advice is helpful whether you need to complete things around the house or at the office. Each night, list each task that has to be accomplished the next day. For example, your list might include items like laundry, cleaning out the refrigerator, paying bills, or running errands. Along with this written to-do list, decide when to complete each item. For example, you might pay bills at 10 a.m. and go to the post office at 11 a.m. Additionally, establish a time limit for completing each item, so you won't spend too much time on one task.
Personally, if I complete my most dreaded or difficult tasks first (such as cleaning the bathroom or going grocery shopping), I can get through the rest of the day with ease. However, the opposite might be true for you, and you may procrastinate with simpler tasks.
Whatever your preference, it helps to prioritize items from urgent to least urgent, or vice versa. By moving tasks that you would normally put off to the top of your to-do list, you're able to tackle procrastination head-on.
4. Change Up Where You Work
This option might not be available to you. However, if you work from home and find that you're unable to stay on task, a change of scenery can make a world of difference.
I complete the majority of my work in a home office, but some days my creative juices aren't flowing, and I spend more time putting off work or surfing the Internet. I'll procrastinate as long as I stay in the same place. Yet, if I change my location and work from the couch, the dining room table, or even away from the house, this is usually all it takes to find my focus and get back into the swing of things. (See also: How to Stay Focused at Work)
5. Avoid Distractions
The more distractions you have, the easier it is to procrastinate. For example, it's harder to work during the day when you're constantly pulled into conversations via Facebook and other social media. Likewise, if you sit down to study or work on homework, you might get off track if you're unable to ignore text messages, game notification from friends, or breaking news stories that appear on your newsfeed.
By keeping social media in its place and only checking in with friends after you've completed your tasks, you can limit distractions that trigger procrastination. (See also: Ways to Break Your Social Media Habit)
6. Don't Accept Invitations
You might be determined to complete projects around the home or office within a given timeframe, but your inability to decline invitations might inadvertently encourage procrastination.
For example, your daily plans may already include preparing your taxes or starting a home improvement project. It's tempting to cancel these plans if you receive a last-minute invitation from a friend. Understandably, going to lunch or the movies is more exciting than adding up tax receipts. It's OK to be flexible with your schedule, but if you constantly let others interfere with your plans, you won't get anything done. (See also: How to Say "No" to Friends and Family)
7. Be Accountable
Dealing with procrastination might require support from a friend or relative. After you establish a to-do list and a schedule for the day, share your plans with someone.
When it's all said and done, this person is there to offer encouragement. Schedule regular check-ins with your support person. It's easier to stay on target when you're held accountable for your actions.
8. Reward Yourself
For each task that you complete on your list, give yourself a small reward. This can be something as simple as spending five minutes playing a few rounds of your favorite online game, or maybe you can treat yourself to a cup of coffee or tea before moving to the next item on your list. A reward system is an excellent self-motivation tool since it gives you something to look forward to. (See also: 21 Frugal Rewards)
9. Take a Break
Procrastination doesn't always suggest laziness. If you're overworked, overly busy, and overly tired, putting off things might be a way to maintain your sanity. Maybe you're not in the right frame of mind to deal with certain tasks now.
It's OK to take breaks to rejuvenate your mental state. These don't have to be long breaks. If you can't take a day off, perhaps you can take 10- or 20-minute breaks throughout the day. Rest your eyes, call a friend, or go outside for some fresh air.
Do you have other tricks to stop procrastinating? Let me know in the comments below.