Procrastination is a disease affecting millions around the world. Fortunately, you can cure this disease by making a few small changes in your mindset and your daily habits. In this article, you’re going to learn exactly how to beat procrastination once and for all and live a stress-free professional life.
Putting off things as long as possible is something you have been doing for a long time. You have a thing you need to do. And you put it off simply because you don’t want to do it until you no longer have the option to put it off anymore Or maybe the task you are assigned is overwhelming, making you anxious. Either way, you can’t escape the thing in your hand. But of course, you try escaping for as long as possible by delaying it. But where does that lead you? Perhaps experiencing last-minute stress, bringing out incomplete or poor quality work?
Actually, it does much more than that. Studies have shown that procrastinators are more likely to experience sleep disorders like insomnia. Plus, statistics suggest that people experience financial loss due to procrastination. And this sounds obvious as procrastination at work brings about unsatisfactory performance which prevents promotion and even leads to unemployment.
Now, if you are someone who procrastinates, you know well that it has as much to do with laziness as it is to the fear of judgment and failure. Even the most ambitious ones have the habit of procrastinating. As a working professional, you might experience this frequently. More often than not, the desire to deliver perfection and the apprehension of failing to achieve it is what keeps you from taking any action at all. This happens because we are afraid of not getting expected outcomes and putting it off provides short-term relief. But this relief as you know already is only going to harm you in the long run. It becomes a pattern long before you can do anything about it. However, as I said, a few changes are all you need to stop putting your career at stake. So, let’s look at some of the ways you can use to escape the procrastination trap.
Break things down into small steps:
One of the main reasons we procrastinate is because we get too overwhelmed by the work before us.
Breaking down work into little parts and then taking measurable steps, help you overcome this problem. This makes the seemingly impossible target look doable and easy. By focusing on one thing at a time, you are motivated to take the next step and then the next until you complete your task. And you soon realize that the task was not as challenging as you thought it would be after all. Put simply, to get going, all you need to do is take the first step.
Create a timeline with specific deadlines:
Breaking down your project should be followed by creating a timeline with deadlines. This way you know each task needs to be completed by when thus being able to finish it by a particular date. It has been seen that employees who have a daily plan are more satisfied and highly efficient as a result of increased productivity. Furthermore, you should designate a specific place only for work. Our environment influences our habits greatly and when you design your environment by assigning a particular habit to a particular location, it establishes a relation between the habit and that location. Using the same place to work regularly prevents your mind from wandering and helps you stay focused.
Be Selective About The People You Spend Time With:
Hang out with people who work hard themselves and know how to get things done. Choose to be in a company that inspires you to take action. The kind of people you surround yourself with determines to a large extent how motivated you feel to take action and how often you procrastinate.
Stop being a perfectionist:
Your brain is naturally wired to overestimate threats which leads you to overemphasize the need to be perfect. Expecting too high holds you back from taking any action as you are ready to accept nothing less than perfect. Moreover, setting unrealistic goals not only stops you from getting things done but also makes you look down upon your achievements. This does nothing but makes you avoid the task altogether as you exaggerate the difficulty of it by trying to achieve perfection. Here’s the interesting part, however; by permitting yourself to make a mistake, you allow yourself to get started and even get better results than you expected it to be. This ultimately helps throw away procrastination. In contrast, obsession with perfectionism inhibits you from accomplishing anything.
Eliminate all the distractions like traffic noise or your phone notifications when you want to work. By avoiding and blocking outside disturbances, you allow yourself to concentrate on the task at hand instead of finding an excuse to procrastinate.
Consider The Long-Term Benefits:
Procrastinating is a way to provide short-term relief. However, focusing too much on this short-term relief takes you far away from long-term benefits. Whenever you struggle to finish a project given to you, think about the feeling you’ll get after you complete it and when the results turn out well. Remind yourself of how it feels when you achieve a target every time you want to avoid work and it will give you enough motivation to get the same feeling again. And take my word for it, the relief you get after completing a task is much greater than the one you get by avoiding it.
When all is said and done, we will still procrastinate some things at some point as we can’t get rid of them entirely, at least not immediately. So, why not learn to use procrastination to your advantage? Yep, you can do that! Stay with me for a minute and I’ll tell you how.
Creating a to-do list helps but what we usually do is select the easiest tasks on the list one after the other, putting off the most important ones till the end of the day until we no longer have the willpower to do it. Doing this gives us the false satisfaction of having accomplished many things for the day despite leaving off the most valuable tasks. You should instead set your priorities and try accomplishing the tasks which provide more value in the long run. Complete the most essential tasks before your willpower is drained and when you feel the need for a break or get tired, procrastinate on the least valuable and important tasks. It’s still procrastination but you achieve what matters anyway by getting more important things done first.
To summarize, it’s important to understand that most often the thing that comes between you and your success is procrastination. And therefore, you need to break this habit before it’s too late. Some of the ways that we talked about include: breaking things into actionable steps; associating yourself with achievers; thinking about the long-term benefits and identifying your priorities. Because as Stephen Covey puts it, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.”