Chronic procrastinators experience stress that they create. Putting off tasks is unfortunately a malady that most of us experience. Constantly procrastinating about work projects, home chores and personal goals (such as exercising) makes you more vulnerable to bad choices and unhappy with your life in general. Believe me, I know firsthand so came up with Kick the Procrastination Habit post.
Kick the Procrastination Habit
Most procrastinators can be helped by simply replacing old habits with new ones. Others may need counseling to get out of the procrastination habit – especially if the procrastinating is taking a toll on your job or personal life.
Here are some helpful ways to kick the procrastination habit and get on with your life with more confidence and sense of accomplishment:
Break down projects (goals) into micro-manageable tasks. If the project looks overwhelming in the whole, break it down into minute tasks that you can check off one by one until it’s complete.
When you break down the projects into tasks, keep in mind your personal attention span capability. If you’re the type of person who can sit for only 15 minutes at a time before your mind wanders, try to break down the tasks into 15 minute increments.
Decide how much time you have to devote to the projects today. Don’t overwhelm the day with so many tasks that you never seem to finish. Some tasks may take a bit more work, so plan some flex time into your schedule. When you finish a task, check it off. That simple action helps you mentally feel that you’re accomplishing something.
Give yourself freedom to stop working when you don’t feel like it. If sometimes you just can seem to focus on the task at hand, take a break. Were you daydreaming about something? Do something regarding the daydream (if it’s a trip to Tahiti, get out the travel folders and give yourself permission to dream for awhile).
Set a timer for ten or fifteen minutes of freedom. Meditate, read a book or have some cookies and milk. If you find that you have a consistent problem with focusing, try and remove distractions around you. Turn off the phone, wear noise-canceling headphones or anything that can help you maintain focus and clarity.
Motivate and inspire yourself. Figure out what motivates and inspires you to action. Does negative or positive reinforcement work best? Do you work best under pressure? If so, give yourself a deadline even if your project doesn’t have one. Reward yourself at the end with something you’ve wanted to do.
If negative reinforcement is your motivator, think of something you love to do (like take a nap in the afternoon or watch your favorite evening show on television) and make it off limits unless you complete the task(s) at hand.
Schedule the hardest tasks first. When you feel your best and brightest is the time to schedule the tasks that require the most focus. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you look back and see what you’ve done – and that will give you the impetus to go on to other tasks.
If a hard task requires more than one time span to complete, try and break it down into small parts that can be completed during that time. Motivation will come when you see the huge task being completed, even though in bits and pieces.
Take mini breaks – especially during large tasks. If a task is particularly daunting and you find yourself being pulled in the direction of daydreams or other distractions try setting a period of time where you work frenetically on the task at hand (perhaps ten minutes) and then take a mini-break of 2 to 5 minutes to breath and clear your brain.
You may find that you don’t need a break after the 10 minutes if you’re really into the task and feel good about your accomplishment. Keep working. But, don’t beat yourself up if you want to stop and take a break. You scheduled it and the time is yours.
Don’t set overwhelming goals. Manageable goals are best – especially if you’re a procrastinator. If your goals are too monumental, you’ll dread working on them. You can have one, overall large goal, but be sure and break it down into manageable increments.
You may be a procrastinator if you’re an overachiever. That may sound strange, but overachievers sometimes fail because they can never accomplish what they set out to do in their minds. They’re sometimes impatient with small tasks and just want the end results – now.
Outsource tasks that have you paralyzed. Many times our minds simply become overwhelmed with a task at hand, causing frustration and creating a paralyzing affect where nothing is accomplished.
You can do something about it if you see this is happening to you. Perhaps the task is too technical and you haven’t had the training necessary to complete the task unless you take a course or other type of training. There are so many freelancers online who can help you with your task – quickly and easily. Hardly any price is too small to help you over the paralyzing effect of having to complete a difficult or time-consuming task.
Get rid of distractions that prevent you from reaching your goals. If the distractions are from your family (and they’re old enough to negotiate with), give them a time frame that you’ll be working on your project and then plan some time with them.
If you’re a fan of surfing the net, know that there are computer applications that limit your Internet time. Some are free and you can download them online.
Phone calls and television are easier – turn them off.
Don’t strive to be a perfectionist. Are you spending too much time editing your work? Most successful novelists say they write the entire book (from an outline) before going back to edit anything. The lesson for you is to complete the project – quantity is the key here – and then go back after you’re finished to perfect it.
Perfectionists tend to set goals that set them up for failure. Grandiose ideas are the hallmarks of a perfectionist and likely will never see the light of day because of unrealistic standards.
Consider the consequences. When you find yourself procrastinating about completing a project, consider the consequences if you don’t finish it on time – or ever. Invested money, your job, disappointing a partner or clients – or feeling that awful sense of failure can all be consequences of procrastination.
To keep yourself from suffering the consequences of procrastination, you may want to ask a friend or family member to check in with you about what you’ve accomplished. If you know you have to answer to someone, you’re more likely to complete the task at hand, so I highly recommend an accountability partner.
Time management is an important aspect of kicking the procrastination habit. You may need to take a course or research how to better manage your time so that you get tasks done before you move on to something more enjoyable or comfortable for you.
If you’re a procrastinator – you’re not alone. For many, it destroys careers, dreams and keeps you from being totally fulfilled. When you understand this destructive habit, it becomes clearer to you on how to take steps to manage your time and your projects better and reap a better outcome.
Let’s Kick the Procrastination Habit together – please share your ideas to accomplish this.