How to overcome procrastination

The greatest time waster, I believe, is procrastination. There are a lot of productive things you can be doing at any given moment but instead, you tend to do something unproductive. Psychologists claim that procrastination is our way of protecting ourselves from what we perceive as stressful. When we perceive a task as too hard, we procrastinate to relieve stress momentarily. We keep pushing it back creating more stress for ourselves and reducing our productivity significantly. 

Procrastination means delaying decisions or activities needlessly. It’s a prevalent issue that may lead to a variety of problems, including stress and lost chances.

If you’re reading this, you most likely suffer from procrastination yourself or are attempting to assist someone else who does. It’s likely that you’ve attempted to conquer procrastination in the past but struggled.

This article will assist you in resolving this issue once and for all, so keep on reading. 

How to avoid procrastination

To overcome procrastination, you must come up with a good strategy and learn to put them into use. In this article, I’ll guide you through the steps to help you do just that: 

Coming up with a plan

Evaluate your tardiness 

To start, note the instances when you put off tasks needlessly. This will help you determine what precisely you put off doing (like studying or working out) and how you put it off (like scrolling through social media or going for a snack).

Next, consider those scenarios to determine when and where you procrastinate; is it at the beginning of the task or toward the end? Early in the morning or late at night? When you’re at home or somewhere else? Finally, determine the reason why you procrastinate., because of perfectionism, fear, anxiety, depression). 

Make a strategy of action

Next, you need to come up with an active plan that will help you avoid procrastination that takes into consideration the objectives you establish and the specifics of your procrastination issue.

Put your strategy into action

I will outline several strategies that will help you effectively avoid procrastination. Your job is to determine which strategies are most successful for you to use and how to use them. Remember to evaluate your progress and adjust your strategy as needed. The main strategies for overcoming procrastination are listed below:

Breaking down your workload

The reason why we procrastinate is because we think the task is too hard and will stress us out. So we push it back for later and temporarily relieve our stress.

To avoid this, break down difficult tasks into smaller and easier-to-achieve parts. Find the simplest action you can do to get closer to your objectives. Try starting with that one little step, and allow yourself to make errors along the way.

If you have to write an essay, for instance, you may choose to begin with only one word, understanding that it won’t be ideal at first and could even be awful. Determine which stages you can do in one sitting (that is, without stopping).

Avoid distractions

Make it harder for yourself to put off starting, by clearing distractions from your workspace, increase the unpleasantness of temptations, or link temptations with bad outcomes.

You can make it easier for yourself to start first by setting up your tools before attempting to start working. For instance, you may keep a document open on your computer so that it is accessible right away when you need to work on it later.

In other words, you want to minimize any obstacles that stand in your way so that you may begin and continue doing the things that are right for you.

Make a little first commitment

Starting a task can be life-changing at times, for instance, when you decide to start going to the gym. Instead of working out for hours, you can decide to go to the gym to work out for only a few minutes. 

To determine what constitutes a “tiny step,” you might use a variety of criteria. The 2-minute rule and the 5-minute rule are two common ones that require adhering to time limits. 

Allow yourself to make mistakes

We’re humans so nothing we do can be considered perfect. Establish the fact that you won’t be flawless, you might not remember all that you study the next day and the paper you write will have some errors. You can always revise what you have studied or edit your paper later. 

This may be especially helpful if your perfectionism is the cause behind your procrastination; in such case, you should also make sure that the standards and objectives you establish for yourself are reasonable—that is, reachable and good enough.

Make work more pleasurable

Working is always tedious because we perceive it to be so. You can make studying more enjoyable by varying your study techniques. You can use videos, pictures or examples that will make it more enjoyable. If you have to clean the home, you can make it more enjoyable by playing some music and testing how much you can do in a 10-minute cleaning sprint.

Wait before giving in to your whims

If you find yourself tempted by a distraction, don’t immediately give in. Wait a few moments and try to convince yourself not to. You can remind yourself of the importance of the tasks and reasons why giving in is a bad idea. If, after you’ve finished, you still feel the need to put off work, go ahead and do it; if not, work instead.

Establish due dates

To avoid procrastination, set up deadlines for completing your tasks. The deadline shouldn’t be too tight, as this may stress you out and lead you to procrastinate. It shouldn’t be too long either, as you may feel too relaxed to start working. The deadline should be just right, not too much or too little, you need to be precise about the timing.

The deadline should also be meaningful, thus you should have a strong motivator (for instance, someone who will hold you responsible) to follow them. Also, try setting intermediate deadlines that relate to certain tasks that you must do to reach your ultimate goal. If you have to write a book, for instance, you may assign yourself a deadline to complete each chapter.

Setting very short deadlines, expressed in seconds or minutes, may sometimes be advantageous as well. For instance, you may use a timer to give yourself one minute to decide.

Setting deadlines may prevent procrastination in several ways, such as by giving projects a feeling of urgency and concreteness. But, you should confirm that the deadlines are beneficial to you; if not, you may wish to adjust or do away with them if they lead to problems (such as stress or additional obstacles).

Recognize and deal with your worries

Procrastination is often caused by fear of something, such as failing or receiving criticism.

If you believe that this may apply to you, you should consider your circumstances and determine what you have to fear. After that, you may deal with your concerns using a variety of strategies.

You may use self-distancing techniques, such as thinking about what guidance you would offer a friend in your shoes or speaking to yourself in self-distant terms (e.g., “What should you do?”). 

Boost your drive

One way to boost your drive is to make your actions more like games, especially if you are a fun-loving person. This entails transferring game-like aspects—such as rivalry and point accumulation—into your tasks. 

Another way to boost motivation is by making a line of streaks. A streak is a sequence of days in which you accomplish your objectives. Having a streak keeps you motivated and a sense of achievement. 

Make your surroundings better

You are pushed to act in a favourable atmosphere and to put off tasks in a poor one. Thus, the following are essential methods for enhancing your surroundings:

  • Take away the temptations and distractions. For instance, turn off the internet on your phone or put it in a separate room.
  • Improve the ambience. For instance, tidy up the mess on your desk.
  • Take out harmful cues. For instance, seeing a toy can tempt you to play games on your phone. 
  • Include useful clues. For instance, place a sticky note reminding you to complete your job before playing on your preferred gaming platform. 
  • Make the move to a better setting. To keep your workspace and rest areas distinct, consider studying at the library rather than in your bedroom.

Employ social strategies

For those of us who thrive in social situations, social strategies may be the key to helping you achieve your goals. 

Consider what a person you respect would do if they were in your shoes, or act as if they are watching you right now if you’re putting off a chore because you find it difficult. If you find it difficult to stay focused on your own, you may locate an accountability partner to work with or ask a close friend to check in on you from time to time. Your accountability partner can also assist you in other ways such as offering emotional support while you confront your anxieties.

Surround yourself with beneficial peer influence, such as from those who show concern for their job, and steer clear of bad peer influence, such as from those who celebrate procrastination.

Employ time-management strategies

Procrastination has no place in effective time management, so time management strategies help you get rid of procrastination. 

Address bottlenecks

A bottleneck is a task that is keeping you from completing other activities, such as when you are waiting for administrative permission or emotional closure.

Dealing with bottlenecks should be your top priority since they may lead to significant problems. You may be able to accomplish this by changing the circumstances so the task is no longer a bottleneck (e.g., by finding ways to make progress on other tasks) or by eliminating the bottleneck (e.g., by delegating it to someone else) in addition to employing general anti-procrastination techniques.

Change between the tasks

For instance, you may go to a new task for a bit if you’re stuck on one and then go back to the original work once you feel “unstuck.”

This may include undertaking worthwhile but unimportant tasks or constructively putting off completing the first assignment. 

Take breaks

For instance, if you just completed a paper and are putting off working on your next project, go take a genuine break in a separate room for a little while instead of attempting to push yourself to concentrate on it.

This might often be the best option for your long-term well-being and productivity, for example, if it’s essential to allow you to mentally refresh and clear your thoughts.

Develop better emotional self-control

You may prevent procrastination by developing stronger emotional regulation skills, which mainly assist you in dealing with the presence of unpleasant emotions and the lack of good ones.

This usually entails using adaptive (or positive) emotion-regulation strategies, like facing your anxieties, as opposed to maladaptive (or negative) strategies, like obsessing over worries.

Boost your self-confidence

Self-efficacy, which is crucial to preventing procrastination, is your conviction that you can carry out the tasks required to accomplish your objectives.

By thinking back on previous accomplishments and coming up with ways to reach your objectives, you may boost your self-efficacy via a variety of approaches.

Address root issues

If disorders like depression or ADHD are contributing to your procrastination, make an effort to treat them, seeking professional assistance (such as counselling) if needed.

Conclusion

Now that you know several strategies to help you avoid procrastination, it’s time to take action. 

Keep in mind that the most essential thing is to simply get started right now; you don’t need to do it perfectly. You may later improve your strategy when you begin to understand what works best for you.

Start now rather than promising yourself you’ll do it later because the longer you wait, the less likely you are to put what you’ve learned into practice. You may use any combination of strategies you choose, but you should begin by concentrating on the ones that, in light of your particular circumstances, seem most applicable to you.

Lastly, keep in mind that even mediocre action is usually preferable to none at all, so striving to do even a small portion of your tasks will be more beneficial than being stuck doing nothing at all. 

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Habibat Musa

Habibat Musa

Habibat Musa is a content writer with MakeMoney.ng. She writes predominantly on topics related to education, career and business. She is an English language major with keen interest in career growth and development.

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