How to overcome procrastination – best tips to deal with it
- February 9, 2023
- by Anna Meszko
- No comments
Can we call procrastination problem the illness of the 21st century? Let’s see – it is destructive, it interferes with our daily life, it can be the reason the bonds we have with our friends and family are weakening. Well, it seems that we can honestly say that procrastination is not a good thing. There is also one point that is worth mentioning according to this topic. It is essential to really acknowledge what procrastination actually is and learn how to prevent its negative impact on our everyday life.
Table of Contents
What is procrastination?
Google tells us that procrastination is “the action of delaying or postponing something.” That’s simple. And doesn’t sound that serious, does it? But in reality, it is serious. Dead serious. A master procrastinator can waste a few hours a day doing practically nothing. For example, checking social media, watching YouTube videos, or just browsing the web for no reason are common distractions that can cause us to procrastinate.
Procrastination is a problem that affects many people. It matters what we do with our time and how we prioritize tasks. Addressing procrastination is crucial in order to be productive and achieve our goals. Possible distraction can also make it difficult to focus and complete a task. By being aware of these distractions and developing strategies to overcome them, we can work towards being more productive and reducing procrastination.
Why do people procrastinate?
Well, when we look into it, the problem of procrastination turns out to be slightly more complex. A procrastinator treats every responsibility as a threat to his/her “freedom.” How do they fight it? By trying to do anything else but their duties. They are also more likely to feel overwhelmed by the amount of tasks and work they are given, which can cause unnecessary stress.
Procrastination often occurs when people are afraid of failure. They naturally postpone the completion of the work, putting it off until they think it is too late to finish it. It is worse if they repeat this pattern over and over again. This can lead to chronic procrastination. It creates this destructive spiral of postponing work that is very hard to escape.
This is pretty hard to explain to a non-procrastinator. Imagine that your primal instincts activate not only when you’re in danger, or you are hungry, or you must go to a toilet but also when you try to get to work – the problem is, they tell you NOT TO WORK.
It’s like a switch in one’s head that switches in the worst possible moment, associating work with a need for “instant gratification.” Why bother with writing a few pages of an essay, when we can check out this new trend on TikTok? We automatically choose the easier way, trying to experience a brief moment of joy, instead of suffering the pressure of inevitable responsibility.
What are the results of procrastination?
There are plenty of negative effects of procrastination. Not only it is completely unproductive, but it also leaves a man dispirited, sad, even self-loathing. The more we procrastinate, the more we start to dislike ourselves.
The worst about it is that usually we feel overwhelmed, we do not fight with it, by trying to do something productive. We feel that we already lost a lot of time, and trying not to think about it, we keep wasting even more. This lack of self control can be especially tempting when social media or other distractions are readily available.
Not all of us are procrastinators, there are people who have a clear view of their life and work, and they always surely head towards their goals. When asked how they manage to do so, they will simply answer: “just like that – I finish one task and move on to another, there is nothing difficult about it.” What is more, they won’t be able to understand that someone may have a huge problem with procrastination: “This is your choice, why would choose to waste your time instead of spending it on productive activities?” This sounds obvious, doesn’t it?
Steps to overcome procrastination
Here are some of the best simple examples of how to stop procrastinating:
1. Recognize that you’re procrastinating
“Am I feeling overwhelmed and overworked or am I just procrastinating?” This question is frequently asked by many people. We often try to find excuses to justify ourselves. For example, we are more likely to say that there is too much going on and that is why we are not completing tasks.
But the key to success is simply to recognise that you are falling into procrastination habits while working on a particular task. Once you do, everything becomes clear.
For example, you may find yourself spending time on less important tasks. However, it is important to focus on the present moment and stop procrastinating in order to stay on track and achieve your goals.
👉 Check also: Learn How to Set SMART Goals With Template!
2. Analyze your time spent on different tasks
Using a time tracking app also will help you stop procrastinating. TimeCamp automatically tracks all your activities. Every single one. It will help you find those tasks which you spend too much time on.
Using a time tracking software won’t change anything in your work or routine but it will definitely boost your productivity. So you can see that it only comes with a range of benefits.Want to know where your time goes? Sign up for a free TimeCamp account! 💚
TimeCamp generates extensive reports, enabling you to see every activity you did during your work, beginning from checking your e-mails or checking up recent posts on Instagram. The app also detects idle time whenever you decide to take your break. Those reports show you all your computer activities and later use that information to create:
- schedule for your work.
3. Make a to-do list
Include everything that needs to be done for the project, for the day or for whatever you are trying to accomplish. This way you don’t forget any task. Mark stuff off the list when you are done.
Creating a to-do list help you focus on reasonable goals and prevent from doing unimportant tasks.
Later I realized myself that I can utilize technology, so I found a time management app to help myself get things done on time.
4. Immediately complete small tasks
Do you ever feel guilty about not getting things done? This problem usually occurs when people plan too many things to do in a given day. It’s often demotivating to realise at the end of the day that you haven’t achieved your goals and tasks. This makes it hard to stay productive and ambitious to keep working.
But as soon as you finish one small task, another comes along and suddenly you realise you have completed your whole plan for the day. This prevents the negative consequences of not being satisfied with your work.
This method is a good way to stop procrastinating and keep yourself motivated to go with the flow and not give up. As a result, at the end of the day you can see the amount of work that you have done.
👉 Check also our list of the Best Free Task Management Software to Help You Organize Work!
5. Break bigger tasks into manageable steps
A big task that we have put off can seem overwhelming, but breaking it down into smaller parts can make it more manageable. To stop procrastinating, it is important to set specific deadlines for each task.
For example, divide a big task into… let’s say six tasks. You will immediately see that breaking it down into many smaller tasks will make you more willing to carry them out.
Procrastination is a bad habit that often results in negative emotions and a sense of stress and losing control. However, this can lead to frantically figuring out how to complete large tasks at the last minute. By taking a proactive approach and overcoming procrastination, you can reduce stress, increase productivity, and achieve your goals with greater ease.
6. Make tasks more enjoyable
Despite having ample time to complete tasks, they usually feel like a tiresome chore and they are put off until the last minute. It is important to make these tasks more enjoyable.
While overcoming procrastination it’s important to prioritise tasks and get ahead of time by completing them before they become urgent. Making tasks more enjoyable can have a positive impact on your final outcome and satisfaction. You may have more time to attend to other tasks or make decisions ahead of schedule.
The key to stopping procrastination is to adopt appropriate behaviours and habits to deal with deadlines with determination and discipline. Preparing a plan with clearly defined tasks can make it easier and more efficient to get the job done.
By making a conscious effort to overcome procrastination, you can enjoy a more productive and stress-free life.
7. Change your environment
In this step, it is important to establish non-negotiable daily habits and routines that will help you work. For example, creating a better environment can have a positive impact on completing a particular task on schedule time. This can help make the task seem more manageable and give you a sense of control and accomplishment.
Creating a supportive work environment can help you overcome a procrastination habit. Sure, it takes a combination of discipline and self-awareness. But it is worth it. Just try to make small changes to your daily routine and habits. Working in a healthy and inspiring environment can break the cycle of procrastination and make your own life more productive and fulfilling.
8. Improve your emotion regulation
Regulating your emotions is a self-protection strategy that can help you manage emotions and maintain your mental well-being.
Negative feelings can increase the power of procrastination and affect mental health. This is a common problem today, especially among young people. The amount of information and chaos they experience is just too much. It is hard not to feel guilty when you see that everyone has a problem concentrating on their work.
That’s why it’s important to develop a self-protection energy to control the way you respond to any emotion, whether it’s something stressful or scary.
For example, if you tend to procrastinate, this energy will help you to regulate your emotions and focus on a task. It can also help you not to get distracted.
It’s a long process, but once you introduce these behaviours into your life, you’ll see how much you can achieve just by changing the way you think.
👉 Read also: Why people feel guilty taking time off work
9. Get a Motivation Buddy
Another good way to overcome procrastination is to find a motivation buddy. A motivation buddy is someone who supports and encourages you to stay focused on your tasks.
Having this kind of support can be really helpful when you have low energy levels or problems with lack of progress and motivation. They’ll monitor your work through regular meetings, making sure you don’t miss deadlines and minimising the chance of being distracted.
They can help you improve your productivity and complete tasks on time to stop procrastinating once and for all.
10. Set periods of time to do nothing but work
Eliminate distractions, maybe go to a separate room away from others in the home or workplace and just put your mind to work on nothing but the important task at hand for 10 minutes. You will probably see that ten, turn into 15 or 20 or 30 of concentrated effort. I like working out of my home instead of the office to get stuff done. Just lock myself in my home office and I accomplish so much more.
It’s worth implementing a strategy to focus on the most important tasks. Here are some examples of time management techniques to help you do this:
- Pomodoro Technique,
- Time tracking tools (like TimeCamp),
- Eat the frog technique,
- Set SMART goals,
- Stop multitasking,
- Eisenhower matrix,
- GTD (Getting Things Done).
👉 To learn more about time management techniques check our article: 15+ Most Effective and Proven Time Management Techniques
11. Give yourself a break
Even when you have lots of task to do ASAP, it’s really important to take a break sometimes. Your brain doesn’t work efficiently without 5 or more minutes of relax, so ensure it a moment to recover.
People often forget that they need to be in constant movement because they can sit for hours without taking a short walk. But that makes them less productive and less energetic. Not to mention that this pattern can make a normal working day seem longer than it should be.
Another good practice might be to have a quick lunch solo or go to a quiet place for a few minutes. You can use these few moments of not working and just focusing on yourself to do something nice. This will give you a fresh perspective and more energy to continue working until you stop procrastinating.
12. Reward yourself!
While overcoming procrastination, it’s important to focus on celebrating your accomplishments along the way. Remembering to acknowledge your progress will give you a boost of motivation and help you prevent procrastination in the future.
Additionally, having self-compassion can also help you avoid procrastination by reducing self-criticism and negative self-talk. By focusing on your future self and the person you want to become, you can stay motivated to avoid procrastination and work towards your goals.
👉 Check also our article: Employee motivational ideas worth your time!
People procrastinate in many ways and they are constantly looking for tips on how to beat procrastination and how to escape from this recurring trap.
Avoid procrastinating is a difficult process, but every time you acknowledge that you are starting to procrastinate, it will be a small success. Stopping procrastination will definitely bring long term benefits to your future self. It will change your level of motivation, determination, satisfaction and productivity.
Applying those advices in your daily life can help you avoid the negative consequences of procrastination and make the most of the time and effort you put into your work.
Co-authors: Ola Rybacka, Jakub Szyszka