We all procrastinate at one point or another—-and some of us take it a step further and make it a habit. I was one of those. I used to love the idea of studying for a test and working on my business—but when it came time to actually take action, nothing would get done. Making procrastination a habit (like I did) will impede you tremendously from accomplishing your goals, and getting ahead at work and in life. So if you are serial procrastinator and want to break this bad habit, follow these 6 tips.
1) If you can do it now, do it.
The “I’ll do it later” attitude is the biggest culprit of procrastination. By putting things off and saying we’ll do it later is ultimately what causes procrastination. Even if we really mean to do it later, chances are most of us won’t. Things will get in the way. Other priorities will take precedence. We will forget. So if it can be done now, do it. Don’t think twice about it or spend time trying to figure out when to do it, just do it now if you can—even if it doesn’t need to be done now.
The key to forcing yourself to taking action in the moment instead putting it off is to not give yourself a chance to rationalize why doing it later is a better option. Be mindful of your thoughts and stop yourself when you start rationalizing. If you need to do something, ask yourself if that something can be done right now, or at least get started right now. This will prevent a long and impossible to-do list that later on. Replace the word later with the word now in your vocabulary.
2) Know your priorities.
Sometimes, the lack of a goal or objective can lead you to procrastinate. If you want to get on with your life, then you need to think things through and determine your priorities. To resolve the objectives you want to accomplish, you need to think of long-term goals that will put meaning and perspective into your life. Once you have your long-term goals in order, you can start breaking them down by steps you need to take to meet your goal(s). And anything that is going to help you get to your goal should be priority, and anything else can wait.
It should be noted that your goals and objectives should always be written down. Writing down your goals provides mental relief for your brain so that it doesn’t have to remember it. It also solidifies your intentions. It has also been shown that people who write down their goals. Post your written objectives in a visible area – the place you are always at, say your bedroom, your vanity, even your car. So whenever you find yourself procrastinating about the things you need to finish, your visible goal will serve as a reminder to start getting sh*t done.
4) Finish what you have started.
Sometimes, the tasks that lie ahead of you can be so difficult to undertake that you might find yourself slumping over your goals. You might tell yourself, “Hey, there’s always tomorrow,” and this should not be your mantra. Finish what you have started, whenever you can. Think: why should you continue with the task the following day when you can finish it today? Instead of getting stressed about meeting deadlines, completing the activities within the day entitles you to a free pass: you can do whatever you want without having to think about your unfinished tasks come crunch time.
5) Take one step at a time!
Your list of goals and things you have to do might be overwhelming at first. You might be flabbergasted with the objectives and tasks you have to finish that you might end up accomplishing nothing. Don’t panic. Do not let your goals – no matter how difficult they might be – stop you from accomplishing them. When they seem too much for you to handle, go through your goal and to-do list one step at a time and break them down into smaller goals and tasks. Remember, many small wins will equal a big win. Don’t let your goals and to-do list paralyze you because they are too big or scary—break them down into smaller milestones to tackle them.
6) Reward yourself.
Congratulations, you have finally stopped procrastinating. You have managed to accomplish the objectives you have been trying to shelf for so long. For this, you deserve a prize. It would not hurt if you rewarded yourself with activities that can make you happy, such as dining out, shopping or watching a movie. This kind of positive reinforcement can be a good driving force, should you find yourself delaying activities in the near future.
Those who are able to harness the power of technology will be able to accomplish much more. Technology’s power to automate and make our lives easier should be embrace. And if you are ready to embrace your smart phone, you will be able to take your productivity to new heights. There are plenty of task manager apps and to-do list apps out there on the app market. My personal favorite is using Any.DO and Jorte together to create the ultimate personal planner. However, what you use is up to you. The point is to use it religiously. Make sure that your apps are easily accessible and that you set constant reminders for yourself. Always seeing your to-do list and having constant reminders is a great way to get stuff done.
Ultimately, I don’t think we can ever really completely stop procrastinating. We will have those days were we are just mentally drained and just don’t want to do anything. However, what we can do is to make “getting things done” the rule, and procrastination the exception. So if you are a serial procrastinator, break that habit now by following the steps outlined above. If you have other tips for beating procrastination, let us know in the comments section below!