21 Ways Successful People Beat Procrastination
Everyone has procrastinated one time or the other, so it isn’t a new thing. But, it becomes a problem when you let it control you. Many people aren’t even aware that they are procrastinators, so they don’t realize how bad it affects their lives and productivity.
There are several reasons people procrastinate, and it isn’t the same for everyone, so you must identify your reason for procrastinating and get to the root of it.
Procrastination is a habit that you can beat, but like all bad habits, it isn’t easy to beat unless you’re interested in getting rid of it.
HOW TO TELL IF YOU’RE A PROCRASTINATOR
- You’re always late to meetings, events, or execution of projects with deadlines
- Starting or finishing a project is challenging for you
- You get overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do
- You tend to focus on minor tasks instead of the main ones
- You make long checklists without getting anything done
EFFECTS OF PROCRASTINATION
Procrastination takes away a lot of time that you should spend on doing more productive things, but that isn’t the only effect.
The following are some effects of procrastination:
- It can make you lose out on good opportunities
- You won’t meet your goals in time
- It can affect your career climb
- It causes you to doubt yourself
- You end up making the wrong decisions
HOW TO BEAT PROCRASTINATION AND BE MORE PRODUCTIVE
1. Get Moving
The fastest way to stop procrastinating is by getting up and getting to work. This sounds so easy and straightforward, but if you think about the work you have to do, it is more difficult than it sounds.
After all, the main cause of procrastination is not getting up to do your work, right?
Well, one of the most effective ways to beat procrastination is to get up and move around. Stretch, walk around, do some exercise – anything to take you away from your source of distraction long enough to make up your mind.
Procrastination starts in your mind, so you need a new frame of mind to get rid of it.
2. Set Alarms
Alarms and reminders make your life easier when you utilize them in the right way. You can set reminders to keep you on track for all the work you have on your schedule.
You can use a noisy tune that can shock you into motion, or a calm tone that keeps you in a positive mindset.
Reminders will help you stick to whatever schedules you come up with, and also help you finish your tasks on time. They can act as the tiny voice that reminds you that you have work to do.
3. Give Yourself a Schedule/Deadline
Speaking of schedules, you need to have a strict schedule that outlines all your daily tasks, their start times, finish times, and duration. Your schedule always has to fit into your regular daily patterns without causing too much of a difference.
That way, you can easily incorporate your tasks into the work that you normally do.
Deadlines are also really useful, especially if you have a problem with finishing the assigned tasks. Having a general deadline works, but giving each task a deadline gives you a bigger challenge.
This makes it harder for you to leave a task unfinished, and finishing your chores becomes more exciting.
4. Get Out of Bed Early
Sometimes, your sleeping schedule can contribute to you feeling lazy and unmotivated to work. Studies have shown that the most productive people are early risers, and a lot of successful people tend to wake up earlier than the average person. How then does the time you wake up impact your energy levels and productivity?
Well, when you wake up early, you tend to be well-rested and more energized. Generally, early risers feel more proactive and ready to move than night owls, and they also have more time in the morning.
And more time means less rushing to get things done, which indirectly causes more stress. But you can’t enjoy all these benefits if you don’t.
5. Go to Bed Early
The rhyme “early to bed, early to rise” has literal implications because the earlier you go to bed, the more time you have to sleep, and the less irritable you get in the morning.
Many people think that they work best at night and so they tend to stay up till late, but Robert Carter, in his book The Morning Mind, stated that a lot of those people are actually sleep-deprived.
According to Carter, night owls make up barely 1% of the human population, and most self-acclaimed night owls are just forcing their bodies into a schedule they were not programmed for.
So, forget about pulling an all-nighter just to get your work done. Instead, go to sleep a few hours earlier and see how your day goes from there.
6. Save Your Emails for Later
Many people reach for their phones or laptops first thing in the morning to check for any new emails. But, did you know that doing that so early in the day can set the wrong pace for the rest of your day?
Checking your emails is a very passive task that doesn’t require much brainpower, so doing that first thing in the morning can put you into a laidback mood.
You have a better chance of checking your emails right before bed, or after you’ve completed all or most of the tasks you have for the day.
7. Get an Accountability Partner
A great way to commit to your schedule is having someone keep an eye on you and ensure that you don’t skip or abandon it. You need to make yourself accountable, and sometimes doing it yourself doesn’t cut it. External voices reminding you to complete your work usually work best.
Your accountability buddy can be your co-worker, spouse, friend, or even your boss. They should have a copy of your schedules and confirm that you went through them at the end of the day.
You can also be an accountability buddy to them as well to keep each other accountable.
8. Make a Checklist
Knowing that you have a lot of work to do is overwhelming enough, but when those tasks aren’t clear in your head, they seem more difficult than they are, and you’re tempted to ignore them.
One quick way to minimize how much work you have left is to make a checklist of everything you need to do. Seeing those tasks listed out can act as motivation for you or a reminder that you need to get going.
Checklists also help to keep you on track and organized so that you don’t get overwhelmed and frustrated before you even start working.
The satisfaction you get from checking each task off your checklist can serve as a boost for you to tackle the remaining tasks.
9. Start with the Smallest Task
When making your checklist, it is clear that some tasks are harder, more difficult, or more time-consuming than others. The best thing to do is to schedule those last as long as they aren’t time-bound.
This way, you have relatively smaller and easier tasks to handle first before you get overwhelmed and worn out.
If you go after the big tasks first, you stand a chance of losing steam early, and you’ll end up pushing those smaller chores to the next day.
Also, when you handle the easier tasks early, you tend to complete them faster because of the extra energy boost you get early in the morning.
10. Make Sure You Finish Every Task First
One mistake a lot of people make is starting a lot of different tasks and leaving them incomplete. Always ensure you finish any task you set out to do before starting a new one.
Too many half-done tasks throughout the day pile on and leave you feeling unaccomplished. Make sure a task is checked off your list before getting into the next one
11. Declutter as You Work
One of the main reasons people procrastinate is that they let a lot of small tasks sit until they accumulate and become large tasks.
Handling those small and medium tasks as they come will give you more time and space to focus on the bigger things. The fastest way is to tackle them as soon as they come up.
Also, ensure that you clean up and clear the debris from previous chores as you go. If you let them mix up, cleanup will be more overwhelming for you.
12. Don’t Beat Yourself Up – Take a Short Break
Procrastination is not something to be proud of, and it affects productivity.
But, if you focus too much on how much you have been procrastinating, you can end up procrastinating even more.
It is okay to forgive yourself for procrastinating in the past, as long as you’re willing to beat the habit. So, don’t beat yourself up for procrastinating. Give yourself a break, go out for a short walk, and get down to business.
13. Work in Intervals
If you find yourself feeling reluctant to take on a bulky and time-consuming task, split it up into different sections. This way, you can address each section as an individual task, albeit a smaller and easier one to handle.
You can also give yourself a certain timeframe to work and fix a little break in between.
For example, you can split your 4-hour task into half-hour tasks with 10-minute breaks in between. This makes your workflow much faster and easier, and you avoid burning yourself out.
14. Make a Playlist
Sometimes, all you need to get you in the right mood is a bomb playlist. Compile a list of songs that inspire you to move and start the playlist whenever you find yourself procrastinating.
A lot of tasks you have to complete will be unappealing, so having your favorite songs keep you company can help you finish them up faster and in a better mood. There is a playlist for every mood; you just have to find the perfect one.
15. Give Yourself Clear Goals
There is nothing as fulfilling as setting goals for yourself and accomplishing them within the allocated time.
These goals don’t always have to be major milestones for them to be impactful. Sometimes, giving yourself one hour to finish up a report can give you a lot of satisfaction.
The brain responds to positive feelings by releasing endorphins that make you feel good. When your mind relates that good feeling to accomplishing a goal, you’ll be more willing to achieve more.
16. Cut Down on Your Media Consumption-Quiet Time
Social media is a necessary evil that has done a substantial amount of harm compared to its benefits. Social media or digital media, on the whole, isn’t inherently bad.
The problems come when you can’t control your consumption, and you let it control certain aspects of your life.
Taking a break from your phone, TV, and video games can be extremely beneficial because you get more productive and get a lot more work done.
17. Reduce Your Workload/Break Down the Work
Sometimes, you can overwhelm yourself with a lot of work that can overcome you without knowing. Always go through your workload to cut out any extra load you can’t handle in one day.
You can reschedule them or outsource them if you can. When you stress yourself and your brain too much, you can lose any willingness to work, which can make you procrastinate.
18. Keep Yourself Motivated/Motivation Buddy
Many times you can lose your motivation to work, especially if you have a repetitive job. Don’t panic if you do because you’re not alone there. Many adults report a reduction of motivation in their jobs due to many reasons. When you find yourself lacking in motivation, it is up to you to bring it back into your life.
You can do this by finding the things that used to spark your creativity and doing them. They could be simple things like watching your favorite movie or going out to a park to people-watch.
To make this more fun, you could get a motivation partner. You guys can take turns motivating each other, and if you share similar interests, you can do them together.
19. Get to the Root of the Problem
Every bad habit has a root cause, no matter how small. Identifying the source of your addiction can be the first step towards overcoming it.
Do you feel intimidated when you confront the long list of chores you have in front of you?
Could it be that you’re addicted to your phone and find it hard to keep it to the side for the time you need to finish your tasks?
Whatever the root cause, finding it, and tackling it is possible, and it will make it easier for you to stop.
20. Make Out Time to Procrastinate
Yes. It sounds like a complete lie, but this tip really helps. When you already know you’re a procrastinator, quitting the habit cold turkey can be difficult. Like every bad habit, procrastination needs to be carefully and slowly let go.
The best way to do this is to give yourself some time during the day to indulge in some procrastination.
Keep in mind that this is very different from taking a break in between tasks. This time should be dedicated specifically to the activities you usually partake in when you procrastinate. Procrastination can be likened to an addiction, although it is not anywhere close to being classified as one. Still, small doses of procrastination time that slowly dwindle can help you gradually phase out your procrastination habit.
21. Don’t Pursue Perfection
Striving for perfection is great. Pushing your work back because you can’t perfect it at that time is not. When you find yourself procrastinating and being reluctant to start a task because of a fear of not doing it perfectly at a time, you have to stop yourself.
Your primary mission should be to attempt that task and complete it to the best of your ability – perfect or not. You are not perfect, so you shouldn’t burden yourself with creating something perfect. When you focus too much on perfection, you may postpone the task and end up doing a rush job.
Bonus Tip: Always reward yourself. When you reward yourself with little gifts and treats for accomplishing your tasks, you start to associate them with good feelings, and this makes you less reluctant to approach any task.
This tactic of positive reinforcement is actually backed by science, and it takes only a short time to condition yourself.
Procrastination is a bad habit that many people struggle with, but it isn’t the hopeless case you might think it is.
It is a habit like every other bad habit, and you can get over it with some hard work and determination.
Apply the steps outlined in this article, and you may never have to put your work aside again.