Do you procrastinate? That’s a rhetorical question. We already know you do, because just about everyone procrastinates some time.
In school, we procrastinated on doing our homework. In our adult lives, we procrastinate on sending emails and writing the next blog post for our website.
Sometimes procrastination doesn’t seem like a big deal. But once it gets out of hand, it can destroy your potential.
Procrastination will stand in the way of your success if you let it. We might playfully tease ourselves about our bad work habits, but over time they can add up and become a real hindrance.
Beating procrastination isn’t easy. You already tell yourself you should be getting things done instead of watching television or seeing your friends, but you can bring yourself to do them. And if you don’t put your plans into action, who will?
It’s not easy overcoming procrastination, but with the right mindset and an action plan, you can fix your work habits and significantly improve your productivity. Let’s look at the best ways you can stop procrastinating and start progressing on your goals.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
Here’s a hint: it’s not because we’re lazy.
It’s easy to write procrastination off as laziness, but that’s not the case more millions of individuals. Specific mental impairments like ADHD, anxiety, and depression can make it nearly impossible for some people to get started on a task and stay focused until they finish it. Individuals with narcolepsy may have issues waiting awake long enough to complete a project once they get created.
Those suffering from mental impairments will struggle with procrastination more than others. Talk to your doctor online about your concerns if you are procrastinating because of an underlying mental health issue. You are addressing these issues before you tackle your procrastination head-on could lead to poor work habits.
For those without mental impairments taking away from our ability to start and complete a project, fear is the underlying cause of our procrastination. According to psychological findings, many procrastinate because they fear the outcome of their actions.
A college student might put off doing a project until the last minute because they’re not confident they’ll get a good grade. You might put off designing your Shopify store because you’re afraid your store won’t be successful.
The best way to overcome procrastination is first to overcome our fear of failure. Start embracing your tasks as opportunities to make something good happen for yourself instead of seeing them as opportunities for loss. When you see everything as an opportunity for success, you’ll get more excited to tackle your projects and feel less inclined to put them off until the last minute.
How to Overcome Procrastination
As difficult as it is to address procrastination head-on, there are some strategies you can use to set the odds in your favor. Let’s look at a few ways to tackle procrastination and develop better work habits.
1. Visualize Your Future
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What about ten years?
Do you want a family? A house? A successful business?
What kind of car do you drive? What city do you live in?
Motivating yourself is easier when you know the outcome you’re working toward. You’ll find it much easier to take the necessary steps when working toward a specific destination.
Visualize what you want your life to look like after so many years. Please write down the things you want in your life, then create a plan to get them.
Once you have a vision and a plan to get there, it’ll contact more accessible and easier to complete your tasks and move closer to your end goal.
2. Segment Your Goals
You probably have a few significant goals you’re working toward, with a general idea of how you will get there.
But having a general idea of how to achieve your goals doesn’t help you focus your attention and achieve them.
When you set broad goals for yourself, you might become overwhelmed. You might not know where to start and where to go once you’ve created.
By breaking your goals down, you can create more manageable goals for yourself. Small plans will be less overwhelming and easier to achieve, making it easier for you to move in the right direction.
Start by outlining your biggest goals and then break them down into smaller ones. Try to break your goals into tasks that take less than an hour to achieve.
3. Use the Reward System
Any progress toward your goal should be celebrated. No, you don’t have to spend money on an expensive night out to reward small achievements, but you should have a system to honor your progress.
Create a reward system for yourself to help you stay on track. Set goals for yourself each day, and if you meet those goals, reward yourself with something you enjoy.
If you enjoy playing video games, reward yourself with some time to play games after you’ve completed the task. If you like socializing with your friends, set aside time to see them after you’ve completed a day’s set of goals. This will help keep you working without letting you get burned out. Also, one wise time investment is to use a technique like time blocking; this way, you can schedule chunks of time to work on specific tasks and don’t get distracted or overwhelmed with your daily tasks.
This will help keep you working without letting you get burned out.
After you’ve established your reward system, it’s essential to stick to it. Don’t reward yourself with something if you haven’t completed the tasks you’re supposed to do beforehand. Once you start rewarding yourself for procrastination, you’ll begin to develop more lousy work habits.
4. Change Your Work Environment
Earlier this year, I moved into a new house. I set up my home office just as I wanted, and I couldn’t be more excited to buckle down and work in my new place.
After a few days, I couldn’t focus in my new office. Anytime I tried to start a project, I got sidetracked.
Soon enough, I started working from my laptop in my living room. I was getting more work done than I would in my office, which made me think my design choices could have played a role in my sudden procrastination.
I moved the furniture around, ordered some new decor, and put my desk next to my window. It didn’t take long to notice an increase in my productivity.
If you work from home, try working in an unconventional room and see how it impacts your productivity. Or try moving the furniture in your office.
De-clutter your workspace as much as possible. Cluttered desks and offices can make it hard to focus on the task at hand, and clutter can also serve as a pretty effective distraction. Get rid of anything considered clutter in your workspace, and see if it helps you stop procrastinating.
5. Surround Yourself With Positive Influences
It can be hard to admit to yourself, but some of your friends might not be good for you.
Sure, they’re fun to hang out with on weekends. You love kicking back with a beer and watching the game with them on Sunday, but their constant invites to Happy Hour can be distractions throughout the week.
And you try to do the right thing. You turn down their invites because you know you need to work, but they bug you until you have no choice but to join them.
Other friends might not support your goals at all. The might tell you to stick to your day job and give up on your dreams of eCommerce entrepreneurship. Maybe they don’t think you have the means to make your dreams come to life.
Whatever the case is, you don’t want to associate with people who aren’t helping you work toward your goals. It might not seem like anyone else is holding you back, but surrounding yourself with the wrong people can significantly impact your productivity.
Instead, surround yourself with people who are working toward similar goals. Connect with people who have already achieved your dream so that they can help you along the way.
Establish friendships with people who challenge you, not people who promote procrastinating. These relationships will prove very valuable in the long run and can significantly impact where you end up in life.
6. Find a Mentor
Mentors are invaluable. They’re like your own private coach, helping you better understand your goals and what you can do to make them happen.
Your mentor will also motivate you. They’ll tell you not to procrastinate and give you reasons to get started on your goals.
Be picky when you pick a mentor. Take the time to connect with numerous potential candidates, and eventually, you’ll find someone you work well with. By choosing the right mentor, you can give yourself a sidekick who will help you stop procrastinating and stay focused on achieving your goals.
7. Start Today and Stop the Excuses
You can always come up with an excuse not to do something. It’s that simple. If you don’t want to do it, you’ll devise a reason not to.
The best way to beat procrastination is to stop making excuses for yourself. Instead of finding a reason not to do something, find a reason to start it immediately. You can always tell yourself you have more time to get it done, or it’s better if you work on it tomorrow, but if you keep doing this, you’ll never make any progress.
A few months ago, I found this method called the “Three-Second Rule,” which helped me stop procrastinating. Anytime I know I should start on a task, but I begin to come up with excuses not to do it, I start working on it within three seconds of having my initial thought.
By starting on my projects within three seconds of them coming to mind, I can beat inertia and get things done before distraction sets in. I highly recommend this method to anyone having trouble getting started on their tasks.
Tim Urban knows that procrastination doesn’t make sense, but he’s never been able to shake his habit of waiting until the last minute to get things done. In this hilarious and insightful talk, Urban takes us on a journey through YouTube binges, Wikipedia rabbit holes, and bouts of staring out the window — and encourages us to think harder about what we’re procrastinating on before we run out of time.
Procrastination is tough to beat. It plagues us all at some point, whether working at home, in the office, or in the classroom.
Armed with the right strategies and a will to change your work habits, you can stop procrastination in its place and start making progress toward your goals. Remember, you can have a great idea and a lot of knowledge, but it doesn’t mean much unless you put it to use. If you don’t get started, your chances of success are none, so start working on your goals and stop letting procrastination take control.