Why is it hard to stop procrastinating and start getting stuff done? Procrastination is the bane of any person's productivity. How many times have you put something off only to never follow through with it? How many times have you wished you had started something sooner?
This behavior can have far-reaching consequences. In most situations, procrastination usually means you get things done at a later time than when you had initially planned. However, in many cases, procrastination can be incredibly detrimental. For example, consider these situations:
You haven't followed up on collecting money you're owed because you don't want to come across as pushy. You put it off to do at a later date and realize weeks later that you still haven't collected the money.
You want to message the cute girl you met at the bar, but are afraid of what she might say. You promise yourself you'll do it when you gain more confidence, but weeks pass, and you find out that she recently went from single to seeing somebody.
You have to study, but the material is too complicated for you to wrap your head around at this moment. You say you'll study next week after you complete some other homework. When that time comes, you'll have missed out on some valuable study time.
Your boss wants a report on her desk by Friday afternoon. You have much time and think that the report will be easy to take care of, so you promise to do it later. However, when you begin preparing the report, you realize you need a lot more information that you can't readily access. Panicked, you know that you either have to turn in an incomplete report or ask for a time extension.
All these situations have dire consequences ranging from missed dates to getting in trouble at work. How can you prevent this from happening? To stop procrastination, you must first examine the reason why you're procrastinating and learn what you can do to avoid it.
Reason 1: You're Too Distracted.
The easiest way to stop procrastination is to eliminate distractions. There are a million other things anyone would instead do than focus on their work. However, you need the self-discipline to sit down and complete your tasks.
Start by preparing your work environment. Take a few minutes to clean it and get yourself into the correct mindset.
Then, write down your goals and when you'll complete them. Studies show that people who write down their goals along with a plan to follow them are 91% more likely to reach their goals. Break it down into chunks that you can complete over time.
Lastly, use the Pomodoro technique. Simply set a timer for 25 minutes, where you'll work relentlessly. Each time you want to check Facebook or do something non-task-related, think of the ticking timer and tell yourself you'll do it on your break. Once the timer rings set it again for a five-minute break. Repeat this process until you get it done.
Reason 2: You Dread the Task at Hand.
Most people procrastinate on things they find unpleasant – mowing the lawn, writing a research paper, cleaning their room, going to the gym, and so forth. It's much easier to avoid difficult things than to stop procrastinating and finish your chores.
Start by monitoring the way you talk to yourself. Rather than concentrating on how awful the task will be, think about how much happier you'll feel once it's completed. Many people dread going to the gym but feel very accomplished after working out.
The second way to stop procrastinating keep an accountability partner. Tell a friend or loved one about your goal and ask them to check up on you. You can even try this unique technique: have a friend hold onto some of your money until you've reached your goal. If you failed your goal, your friend is obligated to donate it to a charity that you despite. This way, you have to get started or unless you want to fund climate change denialists or flat earthers!
Reason 3: You Don't Feel Prepared.
“I’m not ready yet,” is one of the most common excuses for procrastination. People claim they need more time to think about or prepare for whatever task they're putting off.
To stop procrastinating, identify what skills you'll need, how long it will take to acquire such skills, and how critical those skills are. For example, you might want to try writing a novel, but you're not confident in your writing skills. Maybe you can take one or two classes online before you begin writing.
Second, you can learn as you go. For example, you might want to start working out but don't have a set workout plan. Start by looking up a few exercises online or downloading an app. Try out whichever exercises look interesting to you. The more you work out, the more motivated you'll be to get better at it. Completing your tasks, especially fitness-related tasks, will make you feel good about yourself. This positive reinforcement will, in turn, make you want to get better at those tasks. You'll find yourself buying more protein shakes and trying out new exercises.
Lastly, never feel afraid to ask for help. For example, you might be procrastinating on applying for jobs because you think your resume isn't good enough. Ask a friend to look it over and help make changes.
Reason 4: You Have Creativity Block.
It's hard to work on stories, poems, artwork, or music when you lack inspiration. After all, you probably don't want to make something dull or uninspired.
Start by seeking sources of inspiration. Watch your favorite movies, read your favorite books, and listen to your favorite songs. Think about what makes each piece great. Consider why you started your creative outlet in the first place. What inspired you to begin with? What inspired your favorite artists? For example, maybe Star Wars inspired you to want to write sci-fi. Check out the sources that inspired George Lucas: Celtic mythology, Flash Gordon, The Searchers, Kurosawa films, Tolkien's literature, and Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces.
Second, get started and revise later. It's better to create a bad first draft than not create one at all. Your story, song, or art piece doesn't need to be perfect. Merely getting started will get the creative juices flowing.
Putting things off for too long will make the task feel more daunting. Your fears of the delayed task will only grow over time. Diving right in is the best way to stop procrastination.
Reason 5: You Have Too Much Stuff to Do.
You probably have a busy schedule and only so little time. How can you find time to get into your other projects?
First, make a to-do list and note which tasks are essential or time-sensitive and which can wait. If your responsibility falls into the latter category, don't feel bad for procrastinating. Then, prioritize your list based on what needs to get done first. For example, you might want to get around to cleaning your room, but you should probably pay your bills first.
Second, break your task down into smaller bits if possible. You might have a long and involved task such as writing a book or learning a musical instrument. You can't finish these tasks overnight. You'll have to plan it out across several days.
You can either break it down into steps or merely fragments of time. Some tasks, such as exercising, don't need to follow a step-by-step process. Instead, you should set aside an hour three days a week to focus on exercising. Committing to this schedule will help turn it into a habit that will bring long-term gains.
Have these techniques helped you stop procrastinating? Next time you're stuck and trying to figure out what to do, take a look at this article and determine why you're not as productive as you'd like. Getting to the root of the problem can help you make long-term and positive changes to your routine and lifestyle.