Procrastination is the intentional delay of starting or completing a task. But it usually refers to something more than a one-time thing. It is the habitual experience of putting off important tasks, typically in favor of doing something more pleasurable or comfortable.
Procrastinators prefer to pursue what they want and not what they must do. They prefer to do the task at the right time or when they feel entirely ready to tackle it. Some people procrastinate doing the necessary tasks and fiddle with miscellaneous things like checking social media, forums, or email.
The underlying causes of procrastination are attributed to three cognitive distortions:
1 – the belief that they will be motivated in the future,
2 – the need to be in the right mood,
3 – underestimating/overestimating the time to finish the task.
Other reasons are perfectionism, lack of motivation, laziness, indecisiveness, task aversion, and rebellion. Chronic procrastination indicates Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) which usually leads to panic, guilt, stress, and diminished productivity.
Procrastination is generally perceived as a negative habit because of its counterproductive outcomes. It can be devastating to personal or business life. When you do not deliver the expected result on time, it affects your reputation. There is also a public perception that procrastinators are lazy, lack willpower, and have low ambitions. Inability to meet the responsibilities or commitments at a given time results to social disapproval.
When you procrastinate, you squander precious time instead of doing it at once. This bad habit prevents you from achieving greater things in life, keeping you from the bigger picture. Do not allow procrastination to control you or keep you from becoming a better person, beat it now!
Below are my six favorites ways which will help you to beat the habit of procrastination:
1. Write your tasks and set deadlines.
Putting your tasks on paper helps you plan when and how are you going to finish them. A simple planner will help you map out your daily tasks. A daily ‘to-do list’ is a record of your urgent and essential tasks for the day. When you record them as short-term goals, you can see how they help you accomplish your long-term goals.
It is important to set deadlines for each task. They help you prioritize the tasks according to importance or urgency. Basically, the four categories you can utilize are:
a) Tasks that should be done immediately
b) Tasks which can be done later or rescheduled
c) Tasks which can be delegated to others
d) Tasks that can be eliminated
2. Break every major goal into mini-goals.
A big task can be overwhelming. Break it down into small tasks which are easier to accomplish. Then, focus on one part only at a given time.
For instance, you need to write a 3,000-word essay. If you cannot finish it at once, make an outline and break it into six parts, 500-words each, or three parts, 1000-words each. Then, start the first 500 words. Take a short break, before doing the second 500 words. Keep going until you finish the essay.
By taking small steps, the task becomes more manageable, less complicated and easier to complete. Tackle the first part for 15 minutes, then have a 5-minute break. Then, begin another 15 and 5-minute cycle and continue until you finish it.
3. Tackle the hardest task first and on your best hour.
As soon as you sit down in the work area, pick the most difficult task and start doing it at once. Usually, the hardest is the most important chore of the day. Once it is out of your way, you can do the easier tasks and complete them with ease.
Figure out your peak hours, when you are most alert and motivated. If you are a morning person, schedule the toughest work as the first task of the day. If you find it hard to begin, designate at least 30 minutes on a personal project to build up the momentum, then jump to the first essential task of the day.
In the end, taking action sets everything in motion. If you don’t act, you will not accomplish anything. You can plan, strategize, or hypothesize, but if you do not sit down and take the initial step, nothing is going to happen.
4. Avoid multitasking.
Do not try to do two or more tasks at the same time because you will be spreading yourself too thin. Multitasking prevents you from putting all your attention on the task at hand, resulting in an inferior quality of outcome.
If you want to finish your tasks quickly and efficiently, focus on one task at a time. Commit yourself to the task and minimize distractions. If possible, find a quiet place and do your task there. Turn off your gadgets or put your phone in a silent mode.
5. Aim for completion instead of perfection.
Procrastinators are usually perfectionists. They want to do things perfectly to impress people around them or gain personal satisfaction. Perfectionists are afraid to fail hence they procrastinate to make sure that everything will be in accordance with their specifications.
Do not wait for the perfect time because the only time that matters is now! If you keep waiting, you are not going to finish it. If you wait too long, you will lose the momentum and the opportunity of proving yourself worthy of the task. Aim to complete instead of perfection.
The best way to curb this habit is to abandon your mission to be perfect and allow yourself to be human. Do the task now and review the flaws or errors later.
You also need to remember that “100% perfect task done” doesn’t exist. Don’t even try to do something for 100% because you won’t get it, and you will only waste a lot of precious time. But get me right here, I’m not saying that you should be neglectful and don’t care about the quality and final effect. Try to complete the task as good as you can but don’t try to make it for a 100%. You should aim for 80% perfection and that’s enough.
If you try to do every single thing for a 100%, you won’t be able to move forward because there will always be something to change, make in a different way, make better, etc. Make each task the best of your current abilities (80% perfection is enough) and move on to the next one.
Remember that you can always get back to your tasks or projects in the future and make a few improvements if you feel that your 80% is not enough, but don’t stick to that one thing “forever.” Do what needs to be done, the best you currently can, and move on to the next task.
6. Promise yourself a reward.
If there is a big task that you need to accomplish, promise to reward yourself if you finish it within the deadline.
It will motivate you to start at once. The anticipation of something at the end of a working day will help you tackle the task at once. Use it to get through the pressure. Telling yourself that once it’s over, you will buy yourself a coffee or get a body massage.
Practicing these six essential tips will help you conquer procrastination. Try each one at a time or all of them at once. Do not procrastinate, practice them now and see the amazing results in your personal/professional life.