Do you find yourself putting off important tasks until the last minute? Do you feel like you’re stuck in a cycle of procrastination that’s impossible to break? You’re not alone. In fact, most people struggle with procrastination at some point in their lives. But don’t worry, there are ways to overcome it. In this blog post, we will discuss some tips and tricks to help you get things done and stop procrastinating!
The first step to overcoming procrastination, as with many things in life, is recognizing that you have a problem. Yes, we joke about the hours we spent on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, or Netflix (if we’re honest, it’s probably a nice combo of the above…). But the truth is, procrastination is a problem, as it’s likely keeping you from achieving all that you could be doing. And that’s why the first step is actually recognizing this ‘quirk’ as a problem.
And once you face the fact that you’re struggling with this issue of procrastination, you can start taking steps to address it.
And that’s what we hope to do in this post. Equip you with actionable strategies to help you conquer those pesky procrastination tendencies.
But before we get to those strategies, let’s do a little defining…
(The irony of the above is not lost on me. But a better understanding of procrastination will help in overcoming it. Trust me.)
What is procrastination?
Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing something that needs to be done. It can be caused by a number of things, including fear, lack of motivation, perfectionism, and boredom.
Understanding what causes your procrastination will greatly help you pick the right strategies to overcome it.
The difference between procrastination and laziness.
This distinction is also important. Procrastination is often confused with laziness, but there is a big difference between the two. Laziness is simply not wanting to do something. You can do it, but you just don’t.
Procrastination, on the other, involves actively doing something else instead of the task at hand. It’s the act of delaying or postponing.
Procrastination also brings with it certain consequences. Those who have made procrastination a regular occurrence in their lives tend to experience high levels of stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, which often leads to poor work performance.
And minimizing these negative emotions is just one of the benefits of getting on top of your procrastinating tendencies. The following strategies aim to help you do just that!
Check out this article: Why People Procrastinate: The Psychology and Causes of Procrastination for a more in-depth look at the causes of procrastination.
Strategies for Overcoming Procrastination
1. Figure out what is causing you to procrastinate
As I mentioned above, it’s important to understand what causes your procrastination so that you can pick the right strategies to overcome it. It’s so important, in fact, that figuring it out is our first step to overcoming procrastination.
You’re going to have to spend some time doing a little introspection to see if you’re able to identify that point in your life that procrastination entered for its extended stay.
Are there certain tasks that you find more difficult than others? Do you feel generally overwhelmed or stressed by your work? Do you experience definite panic whenever you’re faced with a particular type of task or activity? Could it be a lack of motivation, the fear of failure, or perfectionism?
Ask yourself these sorts of questions so that you’re better able to pinpoint where the issue may lie. Identifying the root of the problem is essential in developing a plan to address it.
2. Set small goals consistently instead of trying to do everything at once
When you struggle with procrastination, you tend to become overwhelmed by everything you have to get done, seemingly all at the same time. And this is usually because you’ve left things until the proverbial “last minute” and everything just starts to feel like they’re bottlenecking.
So a key strategy in helping you overcome those procrastination tendencies is to realize that you have control over your schedule and you can learn to budget your time better.
Start by spreading your tasks across your schedule. Maybe you procrastinate because you’re trying to cram too many things onto particular days out of habit. Perhaps you can check and read your emails at another time of the day, which leaves more time for the bigger tasks you need to get done.
Knowing that everything will still get done can bring a sense of control, meaning you’re less likely to veer off down paths of bad habits. This will help keep you motivated and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.
As a sidenote…
Remember, you’re trying to break old habits and form new ones, and so there are bound to be some ‘growing pains’ in the beginning. But go easy on yourself if you don’t get it ‘right’ right from the start. Mistakes and missteps are all part of the learning process. Keep trying, and you’ll soon have strategies that really work for you! And you’ll be a procrastinator no more!
3. Break down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable steps
Besides spreading your tasks out in a workable schedule, breaking down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable steps is another winning strategy for overcoming procrastination. Many people find their procrastination is rooted in the overwhelming feeling they get when they have to complete a big, demanding task, and so this strategy is perfect for that scenario.
When you’re struggling to get started on a large task, simply take a step back, and break it down into smaller steps . This will make the task seem less daunting and more manageable. You can also try setting deadlines for yourself for the smaller tasks, which will help keep you on track for meeting your deadline at the end.
Breaking down these bigger tasks into manageable chunks will help reduce the likelihood of procrastination, and by the time the deadline rolls around, you’ll be on track!
4. Change your perception of tasks
Another way to make tasks easier to complete is by developing a positive mindset towards them. Don’t think of tasks as burdens or chores, but rather see them as opportunities to learn and grow. When you approach your work with a positive attitude, it will be less daunting and you’ll be more likely to stick to your plan.
Procrastination tends to be the result of feeling overwhelmed. So it follows if you can change the feeling associated with those tasks, your tendency to procrastinate should be reduced. This is not always easy – our feelings are tricky things – but with some introspection, a little mentoring, as well as a consistent effort in trying to change our perception, it can be done!
5. Find a friend or family member who can help keep you accountable.
If you’re having difficulty overcoming procrastination on your own, a really effective strategy is to ask someone you trust – a friend, a family member, or a trusted colleague – to be your accountability partner.
When you’ve deliberately asked someone to keep you accountable, it can make it much easier to stick to your schedule and finish your task. Because at the end of the day, you’ll need to report to someone and tell them how you did. This can help prevent you from avoiding the task during the day.
This strategy won’t be for everyone. Some may find it way too stressful feeling like they may be disappointing someone if they don’t meet their day’s goals. And that’s okay! Those with this type of temperament may find any number of the the other strategies really helpful.
Others may really benefit from having someone check in on their progress. Especially if you pick the right person who offers encouragement and motivation. That may be just what some people need to break their cycle of procrastination. Having someone there to encourage and support you can make all the difference.
Remember, at least at first, it will be a bit of an experiment figuring out which strategies work best for you! But don’t give up! When you find that right mix, it will definitely pay off!
6. Reward yourself for completing tasks, even if they’re small
A little reward goes a long way! When you do manage to complete a task, it’s important to reward yourself for your hard work. This will help keep you motivated and encouraged to continue working. It’s also important to remember that not all rewards need to be expensive or extravagant. Your favorite self-care activity – a face mask or some meditating – a lovely cup of tea or coffee, or a few minutes of relaxation can be just as effective.
You won’t always need rewards for completing your tasks, but especially in the phase where you’re breaking old habits and forming new ones, rewards can be really helpful in sticking to your new work routine.
7. Schedule in breaks throughout your day
“Schedule in breaks? Are you sure that’s a strategy for ‘overcoming procrastination’? Isn’t taking too many breaks what got me falling behind schedule in the first place?!”
Yes, and no.
You see, if you’re a procrastinator, you’re doing something else instead of what you’re supposed to be doing. It may be seen as a break, but in reality, you’re doing something…just not what you’re supposed to be doing.
In order to keep your productivity levels high, it’s important to take actual breaks. Where you take your attention off the task at hand, get something to drink, stretch, or walk around.
But because you’re a recovering procrastinator, there needs to be some ground rules in place.
Firstly, be sure to set a time limit for your break. The best way to do this is to build breaks into your daily schedule. Then when the time comes, you know you’re fully allowed to stop working, and enjoy the break.
Secondly, when you’re taking a break, don’t do something that tends to take longer than a couple of minutes. So it’s better to not spend your break on Netflix or browsing the internet. This would be a slippery slope back into those bad habits!
Instead, use this time to relax and rejuvenate yourself so you can return to your work with fresh energy.
Related read: 10 Top Free Resources to Boost Your Productivity
In conclusion, overcoming procrastination is possible with a little effort, patience, and a good measure of “follow-through”. Try these strategies and you’ll be well on your way to getting things done!
Remember that every person is different and what works for one person may not work for another. Be patient and experiment until you find what works best for you. And most importantly, don’t give up! Little by little, with each goal you set and each task you cross off, you’ll be one step closer to breaking the cycle of procrastination. You’ll have more time left to play with, and you’ll be free from the stress that comes from leaving everything until the last minute!
Do you struggle with procrastination? What strategies do you find most helpful?