So, you have been putting off a major task for days. “I’ll do it tomorrow’, you say but somehow, this ‘tomorrow’ never comes. You give yourself reasons to do it later, you beat yourself over choosing everything else over finishing this task and before you know it, you are stuck in a spiral of self-blame and disappointment. This is what procrastination is.
Don’t panic, you’re not alone – everyone procrastinates at some point or the other. The reasons range from not being motivated enough to giving in to your perfectionist ways and even grappling with the fear of failure. Whatever may be your reason, procrastinating is not healthy. It affects your mental health and also strains relations with the people around you.
So, how do you get rid of it? Here are 5 practical tips to help you overcome procrastination and take better control of your life –
Maintain a To-Do List
You need a paper written quick and chances are you can’t help but get overwhelmed with the sheer enormity of your assignment. What do you do? You end up postponing it till you can’t anymore and end up doing a shoddy, last-minute job in the end.
Next time you are faced with an assignment or task, break it down into smaller tasks and write them down. Maintain a to-do list along with deadlines so you can keep track of all the work that is pending. Just by seeing your tasks written down might push you to begin work and trust me when I say that the utter joy of ticking tasks off your list is truly liberating!
Identify the Reason
Everyone has a different reason to procrastinate – what’s yours?
The best way to get rid of this behavior is to get to the root of the problem. Ask yourself – what’s stopping you from starting work? What are you waiting for? What are you afraid of?
For instance, if your problem is fear of failure, understand that failure is inevitable and if you don’t try, you will never know. If you are low on energy and not motivated enough to do the task at hand, dig deeper and understand where this lack of motivation is stemming from. Reach out to someone if you have to before you get stuck in this rut.
Change your Environment
Sometimes all we need is a change in our working environment and a fresh space to start thinking more clearly.
If you are a freelance writer and find it difficult to work at home because you either end up watching Netflix or lazing on the couch, take work outside your house. Go to a café or a co-working space – looking at the other people working around you might inspire you to get your own work done.
A simple change in environment can do wonders to your state of mind. In fact, something as simple as listening to music might help too. So, find what boosts your energy and motivation levels and go for it.
Finished your work for the day? Reward yourself. Rewards can include watching your favorite TV series to meeting a friend for coffee or whatever that makes you happy.
You might think it to be silly but overcoming procrastination is a big deal and you must look at your task completions as mini victories! You will be surprised to know the positive emotions and motivation this small practice of treating yourself can evoke. By doing this regularly, you are sure to overcome the habit for good.
Procrastination always ends with self-loathe. You end up hating yourself for postponing work which gives rise to undue stress and anxiety.
Easier said than done but don’t beat yourself over your procrastinating habits. Self-criticism and anger won’t get you anywhere. What you need is patience and compassion. Instead of giving in to negativity, take practical steps to get rid of this habit.
Whenever you find yourself frustrated with your procrastinating ways – relax and meditate. It helps to take your mind off the stress and helps you think more clearly.