What is procrastination? Have you ever sat down to work on an assignment, a report or a speech and then found yourself staring at a window or doing a less stressful, engaging job like playing solitaire or surfing facebook? Trust me, you are not alone. 80% of the college students are procrastinators, and at least 15-20% of the adult population as well. The point is, lots of people procrastinate- for the most part to their detriment.
1. START THE DAY WITH THE TASK YOU FIND THE TOUGHEST
Do the most challenging and difficult-to-do item on your list before anything else, and you will have checked it off. If one is willing to that, will have nothing more engaging and difficult task to do the rest of the day. Many of us tend to start with the easier task and keep difficult tasks for the afternoon or evening hours. This is the old Mason Cooley saying that Procrastination makes easy things hard and hard things harder. So get done with the hardest task first so even the hard task feels easy to do.
2. GET TASKS ON YOUR CALENDAR
Projects that will get done “when I have time” (as in “I will do it when I have time”) tend not to get done very often. You need to schedule when you are going to work on a project, and block out that time, just as you would an important meeting. And when it is time to do your work, set a timer so you can be focused for the entire allotted time.
3. THINK! DOES CATASTROPHIZING REALLY TAKE YOU ANYWHERE?
One of the biggest reason that people procrastinate is because they catastrophize, that is they make a big deal out of something. It may be related to how tough it if or how time consuming it is or how boring it would be for me to complete the task. This gives a feeling that doing that partricular task is “unbearable.” The reality is that challenges or even difficult tasks are not death sentences but they require hard work. Procrastination, on the other hand, is associated with stress — think of the stress you feel when you avoid making a phone call you know you need to make. So keep things in perspective:”Sure, this is not my favorite task, but I can get through it.”
4. REWARD YOURSELF
It may sound stupid but yes it is important to reward your own self for small wins. These are not those normal tasks but these are your achievements worth noting and celebrating. It is not easy to step out of your comfort zone. Celebrating a small win give you a sense of motivation to move onto the other. Procrastinators can be perfectionists as procrastination and perfectionism go hand in hand.
5. NOT ALL PROCRASTINATION IS NEGATIVE
Adam Grant suggests that procrastination can serve a useful purpose too as it allows you to consider exploring different ideas, improvise on your thoughts and then come back to the task at hand. Of course there is a really important caveat here — that you actually return to the task — because if you don’t, then basking in the worthiness of procrastination becomes itself yet another tricky procrastination technique. While if you take it the other way round, procrastination can do wonders to the task you are performing and you may get the best possible outcome.
Procrastination is such a common human tendency that no one can ever completely avoid it. You can, however, tackle the irrational beliefs that feed the chronic form of procrastination. As long as you’re willing to challenge and change these beliefs, time can truly be on your side.