Procrastination is the biggest enemy of productivity. Whether it’s putting off an errand or planning the next webinar, procrastination keeps us from meeting our goals. If it’s such a detriment to our success, then why do we do it? Psychologists have been trying to find the answer to this question for ages. It’s thought that procrastination results when we expect that what we have to get done will cause us a certain amount of pain. This could be emotional pain or simply the mental struggle of trying to get a task done. According to psychologists, we fear facing the difficulty of the challenge.
In essence, procrastination is like a comfort zone where we can hide until we absolutely have to face the task at hand. We might occupy ourselves in other ways to feel like we’re being productive. But really, we’re wasting time – humanity’s most precious asset. The only way to get that time back is to face any fear of pain head-on. You can use the power of your mind to make tasks seem less daunting. Get more done by following these seven steps to overcoming procrastination.
Do The Easiest Thing First
Sometimes, a task may seem so big and overwhelming that you feel like you’ll never get it done. That’s because you’re looking at the big picture and not focusing on taking that first step. To ease into it, do the easiest thing on your list first. What that is depends on you. Once you get started, you’ll build momentum to carry you on to the next task.
Set Small Goals
You can’t tackle everything at once. The very thought of it is what’s keeping you from getting things done in the first place. Even a Herculean project can be manageable if you break it up into pieces. Create a timeline that divides the project into sections and set deadlines for each one. Don’t forget to reward yourself when you check one off your list.
Don’t Tolerate Excuses
The excuses you make to not work on something can be easy to give into. Common excuses include not feeling in the mood to do it, believing you have more time than you really do, and telling ourselves we’ve done enough work already. We each have our own go-to excuses that fuel the vicious cycle of procrastination. Recognize an excuse when you’re making one and silence the time-wasting voices in your head.
Remind Yourself Why
There’s a reason you need to get that thing done. We’re more likely to stop procrastinating if we’re conscious of the value that the goal or ask has for us. Make a list of positive outcomes that will result from completing the project. A big one is that you’ll feel much better when it’s behind you.
Don’t Overthink It
You might be avoiding something because you don’t think you will do well at it. The best way to get over this feeling is to stop thinking. Even the most successful people experience a crisis of confidence at some point. If you do your best, things will turn out OK. Set realistic standards and avoid negative thinking. It wastes valuable time and mental energy you could be putting toward your project.
When procrastination strikes, it can make us feel ashamed for not being a stronger person. The best thing to do is not to brood on it: just forgive yourself. By forgiving ourselves, we’re releasing ourselves from the feeling of shame, which will then allow us to move on and proceed with meeting the goal. You’ll feel instantly better and be empowered to approach the task without fear or doubt.
If You Can’t Change Yourself, Change Your Environment
Some people are just natural procrastinators – it’s part of their personality. Changing deeply set habits takes time and effort, and can’t be done overnight. If you know you have a procrastinator personality, you’ll want to work on being more proactive. In the meantime, you can make some more immediate changes to your work environment to better overcome procrastination now. Work in a space that is free of distractions, has adequate lighting, is comfortable, and that contains everything you need to get the job done.
Just Do it
While procrastination will rear its ugly head sooner or later, there are ways we can trick our brains into overcoming it. Mind over matter is the key to moving forward with a project. Anytime you find yourself overthinking a project, making excuses, or doing some other less important task, be mindful of what your priorities are. Deep down, you know what you need to be doing. Just do it.