Procrastination is what most of us begin our day with. We delay waking up by hitting snooze button several times. Sounds relatable? Guess what? You are not alone! I’m sure majority of us will relate to it. That explains how much we are victimized by this chronic illness called procrastination that almost seems incurable.
Good news is, it’s not incurable. You can definitely get rid of this unproductive habit. But, the prerequisite is to first admit that yes, we do procrastinate. You should be willing to take some strong steps to come out of it, otherwise you will never be able to break free from this vicious cycle.
Let’s take a look at a few hacks that every single procrastinator would benefit from. I’m sure that if you stick to these tips religiously, the only thing you will be procrastinating is the procrastination itself –
1. Prepare yourself mentally
Acknowledge the fact that you put things off and you look for ways to delay stuff until you have no choice but to do it. The moment you acknowledge it, you have taken that first step to making procrastination a history.
Commitment is the key to getting rid of this nasty habit where you always picture yourself working somewhere in the distant future. The future that never actually comes. Make a commitment to yourself that you want to put an end to it. Take firm steps to get into whatever needs to be done, instead of delaying it. Remember nothing can be accomplished unless you are one hundred percent convinced that it’s doable.
2. Create a to-do list
Here’s why you should create one — Dopamine. That’s right. The chemical released by brain every time we accomplish something. It’s what makes you feel like a winner. The upside to having a to-do list (other than organized work-life) is that you get to experience the winner like feeling several times a day.
And, when you strike an item off the list of every day tasks, you feel like you have accomplished something. Sometimes that’s all you need to get going through the day and to keep your motivation levels high.
3. Make it a realistic one
It’s easier to do stuff when you know exactly what needs to be done. That’s why to-dos are recommended in the first place. But simply creating one is not enough. You have to make it a realistic one. Do not create a task list that seems unrealistic and hard to accomplish. Enlist the tasks that are actually doable in a day. It is good to allot time to each task based on a guestimation so you know when to move on to the next one.
It’s okay if you can’t finish things within allotted time, because the idea is to plan in advance so you get a sense of the things that you will be dealing with throughout the day.
4. Create a non-negotiable timeline
Time is a commodity that is not available in the market. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. You cannot buy more of it even if you’re a billionaire. Yet, we fail to value it repeatedly until we are too late. Don’t let this be the case. Create a timeline; the one that is simply non-negotiable. Consider it carved in stone and follow it religiously. Stick to it all the time; except for those rare situations when you absolutely cannot.
5. Break work into mini tasks
It’s easy to nibble on smaller bites than to try and swallow a huge piece of meat. The same goes with work. Instead of feeling intimidated by one huge task, break it down into smaller chunks of easily achievable mini tasks. The upside to this practice is that you won’t feel like giving up on a project before even starting it, just because you feel it’s hard to achieve. You will get a clearer picture of how to go about work, and also avoid chances of guesswork.
6. Use motivational reminders
Have a system that motivates you by sending motivational quotes after every couple of hours or so! Use an app, set reminders, do whatever you can to keep feeling positive throughout the day. Sometimes a good quote or a few inspirational words can change your entire perspective and turn a bad day around completely. It can really give that boost you need to get things done without giving yourself a hard time.
7. Block out all distractions
The constant buzzing of the phone, desktop notification informing an email has arrived, or occasional hellos from friends on online messenger; all these may seem trivial distractions, but these are usually the reason behind most delays. I will work right after I am done chatting with friends. I will get started right after I am done checking email. And so on. These are the kind of things that procrastinators tell themselves.
Put an end to it. Step away from the phone. Turn off notifications when you are doing something important. Get rid of all such distractions, so your attention does not get stolen away by unimportant stuff and you stay devoted to the work that really matters.
8. Avoid the mindset of a perfectionist
This is not to say that you shouldn’t strive for perfection, but do not work with the ‘all or nothing’ mindset. Often, fixation with the idea of everything going exactly as planned can keep you away from getting started in the first place. If you wait for the perfect timing to get started, you would end-up waiting forever. Sometimes the idea of achieving perfection alone is usually the reason that people feel it’s better to delay things until the timing is right.
Guess what, timing is barely right. You have to take lemons and make lemonade.
9. Surround yourself with DOERS
The kind of people that you surround yourself with has a lot of impact on your own personality. You may not realize it, but we slowly start becoming the type of people that we spend most of our time with.
If you are mostly surrounded with slackers, you will also start feeling that it’s ok to put things off just because you will always have their approval. The opposite of it is also true, since we tend to unknowingly imitate people around us. If you really want to imitate anyone, make sure it’s productive people. That’s why it’s very important to see to the fact that the people you befriend or talk to on a daily basis are doers, and not procrastinators.
10. Refresh yourself
According to one of the health studies carried out at Orca Health it was revealed that, “taking regular breaks during the work day can improve productivity and mental acuity, reduce fatigue, relieve joint or muscle pain, and increase overall alertness.”
It’s good to be hard working, but don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t confuse business with productivity. Take a stroll after every hour or so. If you keep yourself glued to the screen or whatever you are working on, you won’t ever be productive. Go out, listen to a good song, or do whatever you can to recharge yourself. Taking occasional breaks won’t hamper your productivity, but only increase it. A tired mind is much more likely to procrastinate. It takes longer to generate same amount of output that a rested mind can do in less than half the time.
If you are really seriously about putting an end to procrastination, you don’t even need to follow all of these steps. Just take a few or a combination of them, and stick to them religiously. Pick any or all; depending on whichever you think you can work on. And, procrastination will be a history!
Originally published at blog.proofhub.com on April 11, 2016.
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A version of this post was previously published on Medium and is republished here with permission from the author.
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