How to Stop Procrastinating
That feeling you get on a Friday afternoon, when the ticking of the clock seems louder than normal. You’re workingfrantically to finish the project you started yesterday; kicking yourself for not starting sooner.
How did this happen? Again!
The answer, for many of us, is often the same. Do any of these sound familiar?
Spending too much time on social media.
Extra-long lunch break running errands.
Cleaning out your inbox.
Extended coffee breaks chatting with coworkers.
Playing a game on your phone.
These are all things we do when we’re consciously or subconsciously procrastinating. It’s certainly frustrating, but it’s also natural. Research has shown that our brains are somewhat wired for procrastination. We naturally value immediate pleasure over delayed gratification. While it’s nice to know we’re not alone, it still doesn’t get the job done. That’s why this article is focused on how to stop procrastinating.
IS PROCRASTINATION LAZINESS?
In a word… no. Procrastination is an active process; you are choosing to do something other than the task you’re supposed to be doing. Laziness on the other hand, is more apathetic and inactive.
However, like laziness, procrastination can have consequences, including feeling guilty and not achieving our goals. Overcoming laziness requires motivation, overcoming procrastination needs motivation and focus.
HOW TO STOP PROCRASTINATING
It helps to look at procrastination as a bad habit. Like most habits, it is possible to overcome, it just takes time and dedication.
STEP 1: RECOGNIZE AND ADMIT YOU’RE PROCRASTINATING
Putting off a task because you’re reprioritizing your workload is a genuine reason and often appropriate. If you delay that work for lower priority tasks, that’s a good sign you’re procrastinating.
Other signs of procrastination include:
Reading emails several times without deciding what to do with them.
Starting the high priority task and quickly abandoning it to make coffee or chatting with a coworker.
Offering to help coworkers with their jobs before completing your own.
You keep waiting for “the right time” or to “be in the right mood”.
STEP 2: FIGURE OUT WHY YOU’RE PROCRASTINATING
Once you’ve recognized that you’re procrastinating you can start figuring out why. Is it an unpleasant job? Are you unorganized? Some people fear success as much as failure, thinking it will bring them more, harder work. Sometimes a lack of confidence leads us to put off a task, thinking we don’t have the skills for it.
Take a minute to think about how the task makes you feel. It’s not procrastination (as long as you keep your self-analysis to one or two minutes). Taking the time to understand your reason to delay this particular task can help you get back on track, and prevent it from happening again.
STEP 3: ANTI-PROCRASTINATION STRATEGIES
Start your day with the tasks you find least pleasant, so you can look forward to the work you prefer to concentrate on.
Minimize distractions by turning off your email and social media alerts.
Rephrasing your internal dialog helps your subconscious. Instead of saying you “need to” or “have to” do that task, remind yourself you’re choosing to work on it.
Ask a coworker to check on you to ensure you’re still focused where you need to be.
If you can’t ask a coworker for help, use the timer on your phone as a reminder.
Forgive yourself for past procrastination. Studies have shown self-forgiveness can help you feel more positive and will actually reduce the likelihood of procrastination in the future.
Prioritize a to-do list and stick to it.
One of the most important things to remember, while you shake this procrastination habit, is that it is a habit. It requires focus, hard work, and accepting that you will slip up. Forgive yourself when it happens and keep working towards your goal. You will get there.