Ever find yourself in a state where you’re avoiding the completion of a list of relatively simple tasks? In fact, are you procrastinating right now by reading this article?
The tendency to procrastinate isn’t new to this century, although distractions in a highly digital work environment aren’t always the most helpful when it comes to your productivity levels.
If you’re like me and find solace in staying busy, there’s a lot on your plate every day. This type of workload makes managing your procrastination habits a must. At my business, I’m met with a wide variety of tasks, and unfortunately, many distractions from said tasks.
There’s no secret formula for ending your procrastination altogether, but there a number of ways you can manage your habits more effectively:
1. Assess your avoidance. What’s holding you back from completing a task? You might be experiencing fear of failure or maybe you just don’t want to call a certain person. Achieving greater productivity means getting to the root of the problem. Chart your common avoidances and find out which are leading you to procrastinate the most.
2. Eliminate distractions. Avoid mindless Web browsing, stop checking social media, lock your door, get out of your inbox and stop looking at email — whatever it takes to focus, do it. In fact, avoid your phone altogether by leaving it in another room. This will help you focus on the task at hand.
3. Make time for breaks. Focusing on a task for a long period of time can burn you out. This makes procrastination inevitable. To avoid a burnout, schedule regular intervals of breaks. Don’t stay sitting at your desk — take a walk, grab a snack or drink, and take a moment to recharge. I tend to work best in 60- to 90-minute intervals, with breaks in between.
4. Find your best workspace. This may mean avoiding working in coffee shops or crowded offices. Procrastination habits vary from person to person, and so do workspace preferences. Choose a workspace to best accommodate avoiding procrastination. This may take some time to figure out. Switch it up until you find where you work best.
5. Set goals. How are you supposed to know where you’re going without a road map? Setting goals will allow you to understand what you need to accomplish. To avoid procrastination on all fronts, write down even the smallest tasks as goals.
6. Break tasks down. Hefty tasks are certain to be avoided. Break down large goals into smaller steps to make the journey to completion more doable. For example, if you have to build a website, break down every step in the process and prioritize them. Sometimes it comes down to tricking your brain into the ease of a project.
7. Prioritize. Certain tasks will always hold more priority than others. As a rule of thumb, I always try to knock the most challenging tasks out first. Putting a challenging task at the bottom of your to-do list is certain to kick you into procrastination mode. Stay motivated and productive by tackling a challenge early.
8. Stop chasing perfection. Getting things done shouldn’t involve mastering perfection, so quit doing this! The more time you spend fine-tuning and nitpicking, the more time you’re actually procrastinating on the rest of your to-do list. Go with your gut when it comes being finished with a task.
9. Evaluate your timing. When was the last time you evaluated the time you spent on a project? Assessing your timing on a variety of tasks will help you learn the severity of procrastination habits. This will also allow you to improve. On your next project, keep track of the time it took you to complete and what, if anything, stalled you during the process.
10. Find your rhythm. Do you work better after a cup of coffee? What about when you’re listening to music? Not everyone reaches their most productive state the same way. Find out what makes you the most productive and roll with it. Encourage productivity and procrastination avoidance by completing your most challenging tasks during that time.
Kicking your procrastination habits may take some time, but utilizing these tips will make the process more effective.