Do you usually postpone things to the next day? Do you never finish what you start? You always find good excuses that stop you from completing that project you started a month ago or that book you bought and put it on your desktop.
Let’s be honest; we are all procrastinators. So take it easy; it’s not a disease just a bad habit; you should replace it with other healthy habits to improve your life rather than worsen it.
Looking at the reasons behind procrastination can help you more to get rid of it.
So why, procrastinate?
The list is pretty long: fear( fear of failing, of succeeding, of being judged, of not doing well enough, of deciding). But most accurate for me was perfectionism, having multi-tasks in one time, lack of information to make a decision, not want it to do it, and of course, lack of pressure).
And i bet that deep in you, you know what the real causes are.
All these reasons have one thing in common: to avoid an uncomfortable situation.
So are you ready for the change ? follow these steps that will help you stop procrastination.
Table of Contents
1- List all the task that needs to be done:
To avoid procrastination, try listing all the tasks you have to perform. You’ll have a clear vision of what you have to do. And you likely will not forget anything to do as well as you’ll feel less stressed in the busy times knowing precisely what is coming.
Practically, write your to-do list in a piece of paper or on your computer. Avoid saving it in your phone because you might be tempted by unproductive actions. On your list, write down everything you need to do in the short term (in the week) and the long term (in the month or year).
When a new task comes up, add it to your list. When a task ends, strike it off your list. By doing this, you will know precisely what you have to do. So you can better organize yourself.
To save time, also try to describe your tasks clearly and accurately. So, you will not have to think too long before taking action. Indeed, the vaguer your description, the more difficult the start will be.
also, you should classify your different tasks according to Einsewhower’s matrix, that is to say, according to their importance and urgency. To do this, you must respect the following order:
- Important and urgent tasks;
- important tasks, but not urgent;
- Urgent tasks, but not important;
- Tasks not urgent and not important.
If possible, you can try to delegate urgent but not important tasks. On the other hand, consider getting rid of tasks that are neither urgent nor important.
2 – Divide complex tasks into subtasks
The difficulty of a task is undoubtedly one of the main causes of procrastination. Indeed, it is never easy to tackle something you do not control. It takes a lot of effort and we often do not know where to start. So, when things seem too hard, we can quickly find ourselves overwhelmed by the situation. As a result, our motivation tends to decrease. Faced with this problem, it sometimes seems better to postpone or abandon things along the way. Obviously, this is not the right behavior to adopt.
To solve a complex task without procrastinating, the solution is to divide it into subtasks. Indeed, the easier a task is to perform, the easier it is to deal with it. For example, imagine that you have a professional or academic report to make. In this case, do not write “write my report” in your list. Cut out your task in this way:
- Write the plan for my report;
- Write the introduction of my report;
- Write Part 1 of my report;
- Write Part 2 of my report;
- Write the conclusion of my report;
- Layout my report;
- Re-read my report;
- Make my report finished.
In doing so, you may be moving slower than others, but at least you will advance. And that’s the most important thing! In addition, each time you scratch a sub-task from your list, you will see how far you are progressing. You will feel satisfaction. This positive energy will give you even more motivation to attack the next task.
3 – Set deadlines to stop procrastinating
To stop procrastinating, it is essential to commit to respecting a time frame for each task. Indeed, if you do not set deadlines, you will have trouble identifying your priorities. As a result, you risk being overwhelmed and never taking action. Take the example of the professional or university report. Imagine being asked on June 1st to return your report by the end of the month. In this case, to make sure you finish your work on time, you will write the completion time next to each subtask. Concretely, this could give:
- Write the plan for my report – deadline June 3rd;
- Write the introduction to my report – deadline June 5th;
- Write Part 1 of my report – deadline June 13;
- Write Part 2 of my report – deadline is June 20th;
- Write the conclusion of my report – deadline June 22;
- Lay out my report – deadline June 25;
- Re-read my report – deadline June 27;
- Make my report finished – deadline is June 28th;
By doing so, you will even have a few days to handle the unexpected. You save yourself a good dose of stress by respecting the dates you have set. However, objectively estimate the time needed and commit yourself only to delays that you can hold. It is better to plan more time than not enough.
4 – Focus on one task at a time
Most procrastinators have the bad habit of doing several things at the same time. As a result, they quickly lose their concentration and are overwhelmed by the passage of time. Finally, they postpone until tomorrow what they could have finished today. As much to tell you that this behavior is totally counterproductive.
Indeed, concentration is a complex ability to master. It is difficult to stay focused for a long time on a subject. Being multitasking is the best way to never finish what you started. For example, I would never have finished this article if I was also answering my emails, phoning and drinking my coffee. Similarly, I would not advance if I wrote two articles at the same time. It is better to work 30 minutes focused on one task than spend several hours on two subjects at the same time. You will be much more productive and will not have to postpone what you have not finished.
So, if you do two things at once, stop immediately! Take the matrix of Eisenhower and identify the most important and urgent task. As soon as this is clear in your mind, finish this task. You will tackle the next one after. If you have a hard time staying focused on one thing, it does not matter. Try to determine your maximum concentration time and set up work periods equal to this one. Of course, you can help yourself to a stopwatch.
5 – Remove all sources of distraction around you
A healthy work environment is essential to keep one’s concentration. Indeed, it is very easy to be disturbed by what surrounds us. We are extremely busy with notifications of all kinds. To yield to the temptation to look becomes difficult.
Before starting a task, remove all sources of distraction, such as your phone, your mailbox, your TV or even the Internet. You will avoid losing valuable seconds by stopping every minute to take a call, reply to an email, watch a video, or chat on social networks.
In the same way, isolate yourself if possible in a quiet place so as not to be disturbed by others. Feel free to close the door of your office or put music to stay focused. In any case, do not get caught up in a discussion with a colleague and do not listen to the sounds of corridors. You will have all the time of the break to do that.
If you do not follow these tips, you will not stop procrastinating. A task that normally takes you 30 minutes can easily take you several hours. Indeed, we have seen that startup is often the most difficult part of an action. If you break your pace constantly, you will have to restart each time. By force, it will become exhausting and your production capacity will decrease. Of course, do not cut yourself off indefinitely, but simply block slots to check your emails or other activities.
6 – Stop looking for perfection
If we lack vigilance, the pursuit of perfection can quickly become a hindrance to our advancement. Be careful, this does not mean that you have to botch your job. You just have to differentiate between striving for excellence and striving for perfection. To strive for excellence is to want to be very good in one’s field. To seek perfection is to accept no defect, no error. Yet, it is possible to achieve great things without being perfectionist. You only need to know when your work is good.
If you set the bar of your goals too high, it will be hard to reach. Likewise, if you wait indefinitely for the perfect conditions to provide a perfect job, you are covering your face. This will probably never happen. For lack of trust, you risk never starting or giving up at the first failure.
As much to say to you that by acting in this way, it is very complicated to advance. It’s even the best way to become a potential procrastinator. Thus, you must learn to free yourself from perfectionism.
For example, if you have to hand over a job, do not take the lead with details that are not requested. Just stick to the instructions without adding tons. By spending too much time on superfluous actions, you will put unnecessary pressure on yourself.
You will be overwhelmed and will probably postpone the finalization of your work. As a result, you will not be able to take on other more urgent and important tasks. Inevitably, you will still procrastinate.