Procrastination is becoming a real problem in the modern world. Various distractions are all around us, and they’re becoming increasingly efficient at keeping our mind off of our important tasks. Procrastination is the bane of productivity, and if you’re serious about getting your work done, you’ll eventually have to put a stop to it, or at least keep it under control to a certain extent.
Our attention spans are definitely not what they used to be. With automatic e-mail notifications, our increasing reliance on text messages and our obsession with social media, it’s very easy to get distracted from the task at hand. To get rid of procrastination, you first have to realize why it happens in the first place. Biologically, humans have a limited “will power supply”, and we can only concentrate on a certain task so much before our mind starts rebelling against it. And no matter how much you love your job, there are always going to be tedious, challenging tasks that no one really wants to do, but unfortunately, someone has to.
There are a few tricks to stopping procrastination other than just telling yourself that the work has to be done, though. It’s all about putting yourself in the correct mindset. We’ll be covering a few of these tips in this article, and by the end of it, you’ll hopefully be inspired to try utilizing some of them yourself.
Divide Your Work Into Smaller Segments
The main reason why many people choose to procrastinate is because they’re intimidated by the task they should be doing. If you have a really challenging project in front of you, it can really be discouraging to try and tackle it all at once.
Instead, you should probably try to break down this gargantuan project into smaller, more accomplishable goals. No one’s expecting you to write a novel in one go, but you can at least write out the most basic version of the story and finish the characters, and then see how you can incorporate that into your final goal. Baby steps are the way to go, and consistency is your best friend.
Remember that one report that you had a month to write and just couldn’t force yourself to even start, and then pulling an all-nighter the night before it’s due and finishing it in a few hours? Of course you do – we’ve all been there. The truth is that having a set deadline can massively boost your efficiency. Knowing that you have a limited amount of time to finish a task and that there will be consequences if you don’t do so will place a healthy amount of stress on you, and put you in a positive mindset.
You might be thinking “that’s all fine and well, but what if there’s no one there to give me a deadline? Well, you just have to create one for yourself. Just take a timer, set it to a certain amount of time, and challenge yourself to do a certain amount of work until the timer reaches zero. And even though you’re not going to have any real consequences if you don’t succeed in what you’ve set for yourself, just being aware that precious time is going by, time that you could’ve used to actually do something productive or something enjoyable, is enough to give you a real positive jolt in the right direction, and make you more efficient.
The Two-Minute Rule
Another amazing piece of advice that many former procrastinators swear by. The rule is simple: if it takes less than two minutes, do it right away. Even a child can keep their focus for a measly 120 seconds, so there’s no excuse for any of us. Examples of things that can be done in two minutes or less are taking out the garbage, washing the dishes right after a meal or tidying up your desk. These are easy, small tasks, but in no way are they insignificant; and the best part is that doing a lot of these tiny errands can put you in a productive mindset and make you feel good about yourself, which leads to more productivity in the long run.
Get Your Hardest Task Done First
You might think that this one is a bit of a contradiction to what we’ve told you in the previous paragraph, but just hear us out. The truth is that you should always try to do the hard stuff first, and leave all your easier tasks for later. It’s all about perspective here; once you get your hardest task out of the way, the rest of your work will seem like child’s play. Likewise, if you start off with your easier tasks, you’ll constantly be thinking about how you haven’t done the hard one yet, and that will not only discourage you, but you’ll feel no real sense of accomplishment from doing your easier tasks. You’ll just be less and less eager to start the hard one, because you know that it’s far more of a challenge than everything else that you’ve been doing lately.
Make A Plan
There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in the middle of your work because you can’t decide what your next step should be. A surprising number of people work in this way, just going with the flow and making it up as they go along. And while that might work just fine for some people, the reality is that most of you are better off with having a plan written out before you actually start your project.
Having to stop every 30 minutes and decide what needs to be done next can be absolutely detrimental to your workflow, and such methods often lead to sloppiness and forgetting important details. Seriously, take a pen and some paper right now, and write down everything that you’re going to be doing up to a certain point, so that you can sit down and get it done without any unnecessary pondering.
Eliminate Online Distractions
If you happen to use the Internet a lot during your work for research or any other reason, you know how distracting it can be. Whatever website you stumble upon, chances are that here are going to be advertisements all over the place. What’s worse, Internet advertising has evolved significantly in these last few years, and now companies actually log your searches and shower you with personalized ads based on those searches – in other words, things that actually interest you. And because of that, these ads are even harder to ignore.
We highly recommend that you install some kind of ad-blocking extension into your browser in order to prevent these ads. Alternatively, you can use a VPN in order to prevent certain tracking cookies from feeding your personal search information to these advertising companies, and therefore keep them from serving you distracting, personalized ads.
Surround Yourself With Hardworking People
Your level of efficiency highly depends on your working environment. It’s a proven fact that as human beings, we function and behave very differently depending on our surroundings. If you’re in an office full of hardworking people that are typing away, being efficient and finishing their tasks on time, you won’t want to be the lazy one, or the one that’s pulling everybody back, if you’re working in a team.
The opposite is also true; if your co-workers are lazy, unmotivated procrastinators, it’s bound to have an effect on you as well. There’s nothing easier than convincing yourself to do less work, but that doesn’t mean that you should. If this is the case, you might want to consider changing your working environment.
That’s about it, folks. Hopefully these few tips will help you out in your battle against procrastination, and you’ll start to be more efficient with your future projects. Procrastination simply isn’t worth it, and if the approach is right it’s pretty easy to tackle. Good luck!