Boost Your Productivity: Overcome Procrastination
We all procrastinate from time to time. Procrastination occurs when we avoid tasks. There are a number of reasons why someone may procrastinate. We may avoid tasks that we find unpleasant. We may also procrastinate tasks that we don’t feel confident we can do adequately. Or we simply may avoid tasks by consistently prioritizing other things that need to be done above them. Even if we perform other work-related tasks instead of the ones we dislike, we are guilty of procrastination. Unfortunately, procrastination will hinder our long-term success. With the proper skills, you can overcome procrastination.
1. EAT THAT FROG!
Mark Twain has a saying that applies to procrastination:
If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long!
Brian Tracy named his course on time management “Eat that Frog” because of this saying. The frog is anything that you do not want to do. You should complete your dreaded tasks first. Getting them out of the way will provide you with a sense of accomplishment and keep you from procrastinating. Always begin with the task that is the hardest and most significant, and you will be less tempted to procrastinate on other activities.
When you dislike a particular task, it is easy to procrastinate. Whether you spend time checking email or looking at Instagram, you are procrastinating. You need to do more than identify when you procrastinate. You need to discover why.
- Discover your obstacles: What do you choose over your tasks?
- Discover ways to remove obstacles: Ask for support, and take action. For example, you could turn off the Internet and your phone.
- Reward yourself: Make the task fun, and use small rewards as incentive.
Once you have identified your frogs and obstacles, the only answer is to take action. Make the tasks that you want to avoid part of your daily routine. Schedule the tasks into your calendar. Once they become habit, you will find them easier to accomplish. Once you have scheduled the time to accomplish your tasks, you must follow through. Resist the temptation to procrastinate with your favorite time waster. Just do it.
2. THE 15 MINUTE RULE
Lack of time is a common excuse for not completing a task. We often overestimate the time that it takes to complete tasks, but the 15-minute rule allows you to accurately time your tasks. When you follow the 15-minute rule, you set a timer for 15 minutes and work on a task. You should stop working on the task when the time is up. You will be surprised by how many tasks you complete within the 15 minutes. When you are not able to complete a task within 15 minutes, schedule 15 minutes the next day for the same task. This allows you to make consistent progress. You will also be able to better estimate how long a similar task will take.
3. CHOP IT UP
The size of a project can also contribute to procrastination. It is easy to become overwhelmed by a large project. The key to overcoming procrastination is to chop up the large project into smaller tasks. Rather than looking at the entire project, focus on the single task. This will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of the work you must complete. For example, you could break a large report into different tasks such as brainstorming, outlining, writing, etc. This technique will create a sense of achievement with each step and improve motivation, allowing you to stay focused as you reach the end of the entire project.
4. AVOID DISTRACTIONS TO AVOID PROCRASTINATION
We are bombarded by distractions every day. These distractions are temptations to procrastinate. By removing as many distractions as possible, you will be on track to overcoming procrastination.
Distractions to Avoid:
- Office clutter: Clean up your space at the end of each day, at home and in the office. A clean space will keep you focused and not interrupt your work.
- Email notification: Establish specific times to check email. Automatic notifications are distracting and cut into the time you spend on each project.
- Telephone calls: Do not take all calls. Choose a time to return calls and texts.
- Environment: Remove distractions such as books, magazines, etc., from your workstation.
5. START SMALL AND BUILD
A habit of procrastination does not happen overnight. Equally, it is not possible to stop procrastinating overnight. Expecting an immediate change will only lead to disappointment. You need to start small and build to end procrastination once and for all. Begin by creating a daily “to-do list” for your personal life. Include the tasks that you have trouble completing, such as laundry or cleaning the kitchen. When you have stability in your schedule, it will be easier to address procrastination at work.
Create a daily schedule for work once you have broken down your larger tasks into smaller ones. As your productivity increases, you will be able to build upon your schedule. You may soon find that you are completing tasks ahead of schedule!
6. REWARD YOURSELF
People tend to procrastinate because they find certain tasks to be unpleasant, so procrastination becomes its own reward. TO overcome procrastination, you could implement a reward system for tasks completed. For example, spending 10 minutes on Facebook could be a reward for returning phone calls. Similarly, going to a movie could be a reward for completing a report on time. When choosing, you should avoid rewarding yourself with anything that you already have planned. For example, if you already have plans to go out with friends on the weekend, the outing will not serve as a reward. Using the appropriate rewards will improve motivation and help prevent procrastination.
7. SET REALISTIC DEADLINES
Schedules and deadlines will help you stay focused. When setting deadlines, however, you must be realistic. Unrealistic deadlines will contribute to procrastination. If you do not have a chance of completing a task on time, you will avoid it. If you are creating your deadline, you should consider how long similar tasks have taken. Be honest, and allow time for interruptions and emergencies. Do not create a schedule based on the best-case scenario; you are setting yourself up for failure. If you are assigned a deadline, determine if it is realistic. If it is not, attempt to negotiate a more realistic date. This negotiation should be done as quickly as possible to prevent complications later.
We hope our tips and tricks for overcoming procrastination will help you meet your goals for the new year.
To learn more about meeting your goals and avoiding procrastination, check out our training workshops like:
Goal Setting and Getting Things Done,
Time Management, and
Corporate Training Materials