Procrastination is the act of delaying or putting things off, habitually or intentionally. We all are procrastinators at some level and want to stop procrastination. Convincing ourselves and others that tomorrow is the best day to do it, that it’s not the moment, oh this is impossible before this deadline, I don’t have proper resources, I can do this a day before the deadline.
These all are different levels of procrastination. We try to comfort ourselves by putting things off by giving any suitable reason. And oh God! our brain loves it. But this procrastinating habit is a serial killer of productivity, relationships, career and a healthy lifestyle in general.
“Excuses sound best to the person making them up”.
Procrastination gives us the delusion that we are so busy, even though we are not. This is to save ourselves from the guilt of not working on things we should be. I have been a serious procrastinator for several years. Studying for the exams at the last moment, waiting that someone else gets the task so that I don’t have to do it, believing this is not in my hands and much more. But by learning and practicing I am able to perform much much better. OK, I am not saying that now I am a 0% procrastinator, but things have changed significantly and I am on the progress.
So without exaggerating the intro, let’s dive into the main course.
How to stop procrastination: 13 verified tips you should adopt right away.
1. Prioritize Your Goals.
When you have multiple tasks to do in a day or say at a particular time, it’s not a good idea to rush at them without even knowing what’s most important and what’s not.
You might have the least important task and simultaneously most important task so, to stop procrastination it’s better if you can segregate your tasks and arrange them in order most to least priority. So even if you are only able to finish top 3 or top 5 tasks, you are good to go, because the left tasks were anyway not that significant.
Achieving the most crucial tasks will give you a sense of accomplishment and give you a boost to perform your remaining tasks.
2. Give Your Goals A Deadline.
Let’s admit this, a goal with no deadline has a deadline of infinity. If we don’t have a deadline for our tasks it will just take us forever to achieve them. Setting up a deadline ensures that we are in check with the time we should complete task.
This also ensures that we are only giving a fixed amount of time to a particular task, otherwise one task would just take all of our productive time with no time left for other tasks. So, having a deadline is very important so that it can be just ticked off our to-do list. Finally.
3. Eat The Frog
As Mark Twain famously said that if your job is to eat a frog, better eat it in the morning and if your job is to eat two frogs, eat the biggest one first.
Here the frog is your most difficult task. If you tackle your biggest task first thing in the morning, your day will be hassle-free and you will be able to stop procrastination. If you leave your biggest task for later, you will be down by the end of the day and your deadline will be exceeded. So, finish your biggest tasks first and then gradually move to lesser important tasks or the smaller frogs.
4. Multitasking Is A No No
Now a lot of want to achieve so much in such lesser time and in this attempt we get the feeling that being able to do 2 or 3 task at a time is much better than doing 1 task at a time.
But being really honest, this sucks. Cons of Multitasking are :
- Our brain performs best when we are focusing on just one task. Shuffling over multiple things at a time fatigues the brain and it tends to slow down. Hence we are not being able to do even the simplest task.
- While doing 3-4 tasks at a time, we are mixing the priorities and time duration of different tasks. A task which would just take 10 mins, doing it with a task that takes 1hr, would simply make the former task appear big and hence consuming much more time and the latter task so huge that it gets delayed.
- Each job requires a different tone while working on it. Mixing the jobs fades that tone and we are not able to do complete justice to any of the jobs.
So just focus on one task at a time so that each of your tasks is taking the equally deserving time.
5. Break Your Goals Into Smaller Pieces.
Reading a book of 1000 pages seems to be such a humongous goal. But reading 1 page or 2 pages each day seems to be doable.
Whenever we choose to do a big task, our brain judges that it’s going to be a lot of effort and hence we tend to procrastinate and put that task off. But if we convince ourselves that we only need to do part of the task first then our brain accepts it easily.
By breaking a big goal into multiple smaller goals, we create an opportunity for our brain to experience a sense of achievement every time we met those smaller goals. This releases dopamine (a hormone) which motivates you to do more. This way there are more chances to stop procrastination.
6. Turn Distractions Into Rewards.
Want to play that video game? Or just binge-watch a whole season on Netflix? Make these temptations and distractions your reward to stop procrastination.
If you can’t fully resist your temptations, then better do them such that you don’t feel guilty about them. Make a commitment that you’ll reward yourself by watching the TV series or just hanging out with friends only when you’ll do some amount of your job. This way :
- You’ll be able to finish your job, which you were going to just put off.
- Your Reward that you promised yourself, will motivate you and you’ll be able to complete your job much easier.
- Finally you can enjoy your reward with any guilt because you earned it. Sort of.
7. First Be A Doer Then A Perfectionist.
Remember when your literature teacher never used to give full marks in an essay saying that there is always a chance of improvement and it’s not perfect?
Being a perfectionist is really amazing skill and characteristic to have, but not being able to complete any goal simply because it can be improved more will land you nowhere. When you try to be perfectionist, you always try to find some errors here and there and in this little more situation, you don’t achieve your goals.
First, learn how to finish a task. Where to say, “OK good, now it’s done.”
When you learn this then you can maybe take it to the level of perfectionism.
8. Start With That Flow.
Starting with a blank screen/page is very challenging. The initial period of being in a task is very crucial. Here you set the tone with which you’ll be working in your task for the rest of the time.
Staring at the blank screen/page give you a feeling that you haven’t even started yet and it’s going to take a lot and lot of time to get this done. So, it’s best to just start with something. While on-screen, just start making a draft or edit a task or just review some templates to just get into that zone where you feel like you have stated it and after some time it will be done.
This flow helps you to just stay in that zone and keeps you motivated and focused. Eventually, the draft you started is now taking shape of the proper project, the edit you were doing is final and the template you were reviewing is being used in your project.
9. Pomodoro Technique.
Pomodoro or Tomato technique is a very popular time management technique. In this technique, you set a timer for 25 mins and go into a “Deep Work” mode. When timer rings, take a break for 5 mins and repeat the process. After every 4 rounds take a longer break, about half an hour.
This technique is developed such that, you don’t have work(read sit) for hours continuously and not able to achieve much. But you can work for small interval such that your brain doesn’t get tired and short breaks to recharge you immediately and lets you work more efficiently. This is a very efficient technique to stop procrastination and get things done more effectively.
10. Pareto Principle.
Often known as the 80/20 principle, or the law of vital few states that 80% of your productivity comes from 20% of your time and your 20% productivity consumes 80% of your time. You can simply say that in many cases, 80% of your results are achieved by 20% of your efforts.
Keeping this in mind, don’t try to rush for everything. Giving 100% is awesome but question yourself, “Is it really needed?” If it doesn’t affect your output then being able to achieve 80% of your goal is not a bad thing. Just figure out the vital few steps, few but very crucial steps you need to take in order to get this task done.
11. Construct Your Workspace.
Having a workspace that actually works for you is very important. A place where you are disturbed by nobody and nothing. Where you can just forget your other worries and be able to get your job done.
I personally was a bedroom king. I used to do all my studies, writing, web surfing, all from my bed. Moving out of my bed has been one of the best decisions I made. Working in a bedroom or similar places have some cons :
- It’s so comfortable that it’s always calling you to just lay back and relax.
- Your brain knows that it’s a place to sleep, so you might have noticed, without even your knowledge, after a while, you are laying on your bed.
So move out of your bed. Leave that true comfort. Your Workspace should :
- Be free from any Distractions.
- Clean and well organized.
- Supporting your back and neck.
- Have good lighting.
- All of your most needed equipment should be in your reach.
12. Don't Rely On Your Willpower.
Nobody has Willpower at peak for the whole day. We tend to slouch sometimes, because it’s very difficult to accomplish a job just on the basis of your will power and hence very tough to stop procrastination. If you don’t have any other tools to help you, your Willpower will fell short to achieve your goals.
Here are a few things you can do to cut off that extra load from your Willpower :
- Control your environment. Reading a book that is right in front of you on the table is much easier than a book kept in a drawer in other room. This way your Willpower doesn’t have to do the extra effort to go to that room and pick that book.
- Automate whatever you can. If you have 10 tasks to do in a day, it’s better to write them in a to-do app or list. This way Your Brian doesn’t have to bear the stress of remembering all the tasks and when to do them. Google calendar is a fantastic tool to do so.
- DnD. Having your mobile phone with data on and then doing your work, seriously requires some good level Willpower. But when you put your phone on airplane mode or DnD mode, those notifications, messages, calls are not there to distract you.
So, make your environment such that, you only have the option to do your job and there is no place for distraction.
Keep It Simple Silly.
If you want to achieve your goals, just try this stuff. While I am writing this article, I am also struggling with procrastination. My favorite series just got another season, a new update of my favorite game has arrived, India is playing a cricket game against New Zealand.
But I am not tempted by them. I have a goal and I will finish it.
Don’t push yourself to achieve all these habits on the very first day. Instead, try to implement a few of them, until you have fully adopted them. Then, gradually master your way up. It’s okay if things are not working for you immediately. Just change them according to your feasibility but not comfort-ability. In the end, it boils down to choosing an environment and tools which make you more productive and efficient.
I want to let you know that all of these tips and tricks will not stop procrastination of yours till you are not willing to change. Just start with something. Challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone.
🚩Always remember, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.”