What is procrastination?
“To keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring”. —Cambridge Dictionary
We’ve all been there! The garage needs tidying… the dog needs a bath… the windows need cleaning… the grass is needing cut…. ugh!
Sometimes things never seem to get done. Or if they do, it’s never when you say they will.
“I’ll do “X” tomorrow!”
“I’ll do “X” later!”
“I’ll make a brew, sit for 15 minutes, and do “X” afterwards!”
Hours pass… days pass… weeks pass…
A few reasons why people procrastinate:
- Lack of confidence
- Not knowing where to start
- Being overwhelmed by the task at hand
- Worrying the outcome will not be perfect
- Being distracted, e.g. social media, text messages, daydreaming, etc
8 ways to stop procrastination
1 Get rid of distractions, e.g. mobile phone, social media, etc.
The mobile phone is one of the major distractions in modern-day life. Having a mobile phone close by at work is common and sometimes necessary, but whether the “message alert” is work-related or not—that specific alert is rarely related to the current work at hand.
If you are constantly distracted by your phone’s “ping”, you won’t remain focused on your work, thus decreasing productivity. Therefore, I advocate for creating a no-phone time-zone for at least 2 hours per day. Pop your phone on “MUTE” or put it away somewhere safe. When your phone is out of sight, you will be less tempted to look at it and more likely to get things accomplished.
2 Allow yourself an allocated amount of time on social media each day
Social media is a fantastic way to keep in touch with friends and family, but it can also become ridiculously time-consuming.
Research carried out by Broadband Search discovered the following:
In 2020 the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated the average global lifespan is 72 years. If we assume that many people now start using social media as young as 10 years old, that means the average person will spend a total of 3,462,390 minutes using social media over their whole lifetime (or 6 years and 8 months based on the projections for social media use on 2020). —Broadband Search
These figures will change over time, perhaps increasing or decreasing, but the results are startling and give us a fair indication of how much social media consumes our time.
“Time is free, but it is precious. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.Harvey MacKay
If we want to strike a more healthy balance, we need to set ourselves an allocated daily usage and determine not to go beyond it.
3 Eat the frog!
Do the very thing(s) you least enjoy but are necessary first. When you complete the thing you least enjoy, it gives you a great sense of achievement… plus, everything else will be much easier to work through by comparison!!!
4 Make a list of priorities and set them in order of importance
Seeing your list in black and white will give you ‘clarity’ regarding what needs to be achieved. A list will help keep you organised and less likely to waste time wondering what you should be doing next.
5 Use a day-to-day diary and write down at least one “main” priority you would like to achieve each day
Rather than have 10 major tasks written down across the day, break the tasks down over the space of a week (or even a month if time permits), which will make things seem much less daunting. You are more likely to achieve your goals (and want to) if they appear realistic.
6 Don’t waste time over-thinking things
That’s time that could be used to make a start on what needs to be accomplished. Sometimes it’s best to jump headlong in and “get the task done” rather than sit and think about it for too long.
7 Have a friend hold you accountable
Somehow (maybe it’s psychological), telling others your plan gives you the drive to get it done. Maybe this has something to do with not wanting to look foolish or wimpy for not having completed—whichever—it gets things done!
8 Do things in small ‘time’ bites
10 minutes here and 10 minutes there may not sound much, but they soon mount up.
The tips above are some of the methods I use myself to avoid procrastination. The list can be used in its entirety or as a ‘pick and mix’—whatever works for you.
If you have any tips and ideas for avoiding procrastination which are not found on this list, please share them in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.
NEXT WEEK: 9 Reasons why you should take a lunch break
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