5 Tips to Deal with Procrastination
by Laura Harrington on Feb 15, 2023
We’ve all been there – it’s 5pm and you’re looking at your blank presentation due at work tomorrow, or you find yourself spontaneously deep cleaning your house to avoid going to the gym.
Procrastination is a common problem and has affected most of us at some point. It is the act of delaying or postponing tasks, often to the point of causing stress and negatively impacting productivity. If you're someone who struggles with procrastination, you may be wondering how to combat it and take back control of your time.
Why do we procrastinate?
It is possible that we procrastinate because we anticipate tasks being easier in the future. This is a sort of cognitive bias, and it’s only human nature. We like to avoid anything painful or difficult, preferring immediate gratification instead.
Tips for dealing with procrastination
So, if procrastinating is human nature, how do we overcome it?
There are a few practical steps we can all take to help us on the daily, and over time, these can become habits if practiced consistently.
1. Set clear and achievable goals.
When you have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish, it's easier to focus and stay motivated. Break down large tasks into smaller, manageable chunks, take breaks in between, and set deadlines for yourself.
2. Develop a consistent daily routine.
We often put off doing tasks until we’re ‘in the mood’ for them. Although it feels easier doing a task when you’re motivated, these brief spurts of motivation tend to come around rarely. Instead, having a structured routine allows us to rely on strong habits to get things done. These habits are formed through repetition and are much easier to follow.
3. Eliminate distractions.
This includes turning off your phone, closing a few of those 30 Chrome tabs, and finding a quiet environment to work.
4. Prioritise your to-do list.
Focus on the most important tasks first (even if they’re not the easiest) so you can tackle them when you're feeling fresh and focused. Once you’ve knocked the big things off your list, the rest of it is easier to tackle.
5. Be positive and reward yourself.
Berating yourself for procrastinating can quickly turn into a downwards spiral of negativity and shame. Instead, encourage yourself with positive affirmations and remind yourself of your ability to complete the task. When you’ve finished, reward yourself with something small as positive reinforcement.
Procrastination is not only frustrating, but it can also feel debilitating if it gets out of hand. But it’s important to not beat ourselves up over it. Establishing these small routines to manage our time will help set us up for long-term success.