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6 Steps to Beat Procrastination

Are you prone to procrastination? Whether you’re staring down the black hole of completing a project or even just everyday chores. Well, let me tell you a secret: even the most productive among us procrastinate. It’s so easy to fall into the procrastination hole because at the time, it feels so blissful to postpone undesirable or challenging responsibilities or tasks in favour of doing something more enjoyable instead (or nothing at all). Have you ever looked up from your phone and realised you just spent the past 20 minutes scrolling Facebook? You’re not alone.

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Procrastination can be a vicious cycle. While many of us might think we’re enjoying what we’re doing in this ‘free time’, it’s possible we might get some enjoyment out of NOT doing what we’re supposed to do. Are we subconsciously aware of actively avoiding these tasks, are we secretly enjoying this screwed up pleasure the whole time, letting these tasks hang over us on purpose, which makes them all the more daunting, making us want to procrastinate even more.

Generally speaking, procrastination seldom pays off for anyone… so, the preferable alternative would be to complete tasks as soon as possible to make us feel accomplished, and then actually enjoy our truly earned free time. So if we come to realise that procrastination is a bad idea, then why do so many of us still do it?

Why do we procrastinate?

Procrastination usually goes beyond just laziness and can happen for different reasons. It might be because you’re intimidated by the task ahead or have a fear of the unknown. Perhaps you have a fear of failing or you’re a perfectionist feel you need more time to get it ‘right’. Perhaps there’s a fear of change and you are struggling to come to terms with an unfamiliar task. Perhaps you lack motivation or perseverance or simply become distracted (by those notifications on your phone or laptop).

Whatever the cause, there are plenty of ways to overcome procrastination and boost your productivity.

Practical Solutions to Prevent Procrastination:

  1. Remove all temptations: We usually end up doing the same things when we procrastinate, whether that’s watching TV and playing on our phone, reading news websites or online ‘window’ shopping. Snapping yourself back from the temptation to drift is vital. How are you going to do this?
  2. Schedule in your free time: When procrastination happens, we’re usually doing the things we’d do in our spare time. Instead, make a contract with yourself: commit to finishing a task first and then rewarding yourself with something that excites you later. What makes you happy that’s not to do with work or a menial task? What reward will make you stick to a task till the end, or make you do it faster?
  3. Begin with the easiest tasks: When there are several things on the ‘to do’ list, some people often make the mistake of going straight for the biggest task first, and quickly getting overwhelmed. Naturally overwhelm can result in procrastination. Instead, begin by ranking your tasks by most important, so you can prevent the feeling of fighting fires and risk stressing yourself out, causing overwhelm and finding yourself back in the vicious cycle of not accomplishing anything. If ranking your to do list by importance doesn’t do it for you, what does organising your list look like?
  4. Break tasks down: If you’ve got an enormous task ahead of you, break it down into smaller manageable steps. This is much more productive than attempting it all in one go, and then procrastinating instead. You may find once you get started, and start ticking off each step you’ll end up doing more then you thought in one sitting. Win, win! Before you start working on an enormous task, what resources do you need? By having everything you need close by, you’ll get more done too.
  5. Forgive yourself: Everyone procrastinates from time to time, but beating yourself up over it isn’t productive either. In fact, it has the opposite effect. You’ll procrastinate even more if you focus on your failures, rather than your potential success. Forgive yourself, and start the task now. Still struggling to start? Set yourself a time limit and break time.
  6. Maintain a positive mind-set: A positive approach makes a difference to everything in life, especially when it comes to the things you don’t like doing. Even the most tedious tasks have at least one redeeming feature, such as helping you in the long-run, or giving you a sense of achievement once it’s done. Remember how good you felt the last time you completed a task without procrastinating? Strive for that same feeling of accomplishment again and keep your eyes on the prize. What else gets you in a positive mind set?

A more productive future

Procrastination can have a ripple effect on your life – it’s an invitation for stress by amounting tasks with ever more importance, and it can easily become a negative habit. Fortunately, it’s never too late to retrain your mind to think of ‘getting things done’ as a positive and uplifting activity, rather than something you instinctively want to avoid. Follow the above practical tips, and say goodbye to procrastination and hello to a more productive and happy you.

Find out more about coaching and how it can help you retrain your mindset and make you more able to accomplish your goals in life, no matter how big or small. Now you’ve understood why you stall on taking action, take action now and download our goal setting matrix resource here and get moving on your goals. 

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