Complacency, laziness, or lack of concern can sometimes be confused with procrastination. On the contrary, procrastination actually happens when we choose to do something else instead of what we’re supposed to do.
We come up with all sorts of excuses to avoid doing something that we think would be time-consuming or unpleasant. We convince ourselves that we can always mop the floor or clear our emails “tomorrow”. But most of the time, we put something on hold because we are afraid of failing. For example, we may take ages to finally update our resumes or take too much time to pursue our long-term goal simply because we are afraid of the outcome.
Procrastination can be dealt with and it doesn’t have to be permanent. Here are 7 steps to help you beat procrastination:
Forgive yourself for procrastinating
You will not be able to get anything done when you’re too stressed or frustrated. Don’t waste your energy on guilt and regret. If you keep focusing on the negative, nothing will change. Tell yourself that you’re on the right track for acknowledging your mistakes and you are not a failure as long as you are willing to change for the better.
Make a to-do list and include a deadline
This is the easiest step and will not take too much of your time. Write down everything you need to accomplish, no matter how big or small. But you need to have a deadline for each task if you want it to work. It doesn’t have to be exact dates. For example, you need to apply for a new job by a certain month or complete your house chores every Sunday.
Break down your goals and set a daily calendar
You will be overwhelmed if you look at the whole picture without breaking them into small pieces and may end up not doing anything. Tackle the difficult or important tasks first. Ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen if you did this today and what’s really stopping you from getting it done? Then imagine the amount of joy or relief you will feel once it’s over.
Remove temptations and distractions
Stop telling yourself it’s okay to check your news feed on Facebook or watch just one more episode of that new drama first. 30 minutes can lead to an hour. One hour can then turn into to a couple more. Instead, try reversing how you usually do things. Avoid any type of distractions until you have completed your daily tasks.
Don’t over-complicate things
Some tasks may not be as dreadful as you think. You’re just making it seem more difficult than it actually is. For example, you don’t have to finish something that requires 4 hours to complete at one go. You can always break it down and spend 1 hour per day on it. Stop worrying about perfection too. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Get a few people to check your progress
If you can’t trust yourself enough or have trouble with discipline, make your intentions “public.” You will not only feel pressured, but your friends will be able to check if you’re on track. Make sure you choose the right support team that can help you to achieve your goals. Avoid anyone who are just like you when it comes to procrastination.
Set the consequences for not completing a task
Instilling the right kind of fear can be a good thing. Always remind yourself what would happen if you don’t do something about all the things on your list. You can also “punish” yourself for not doing the things you’re supposed to do. For example, if you fail to complete your daily tasks, you can’t go out during the weekend.
You don’t need to be in the right mood, the right amount of time, or the right environment to start. These are just excuses for you not to do something you don’t look forward to. Stop trying to avoid things, no matter how difficult they may be. Give yourself some motivation to start your day right with a pep talk. Tell yourself you can do this!
Danila was a magazine writer focused on lifestyle topics and a communications specialist in the telecommunications industry where her work was published or broadcast via several offline and online media channels before shifting to freelance writing. Besides writing, she enjoys travel, taking photos, and reading.