14 Ways to Stop Procrastinating

This blog post is a follow-up to the previous post about procrastination.  In that post, we looked at some of the causes of procrastination.  This post looks at how to stop procrastinating.

From articles on procrastination.com and ones in Psychology Today, there appear to be fourteen generally talked about strategies for decreasing procrastination.  These fourteen strategies are discussed briefly below. 

1.Establish goals.  This involves using SMART goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time ordered.  

2. Determine the exact nature of your procrastination problem.  The first thing you need to do is determine how often you procrastinate and why.  Do you simply not do tasks because you think they will not be perfect?  Are you stopped from even starting because it is too big? Determine why you procrastinate, and then create a plan for changing the thought patterns that cause you to procrastinate. Implement that plan. 

3. Break large tasks into smaller actionable pieces.  If you take a large task and break it into smaller tasks, it is easier to do.  It is like the old saying, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is “one bite at a time.”

4.  Prioritize tasks based on their importance.  Make a list of all the tasks you have to do and prioritize them based on their importance.  This assures that the most important tasks will get done while the less important ones wait. 

5.  Commit to work on them only for a few minutes.  Another strategy is to start working on one or two tasks for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.  This, in essence, ends up breaking the task into smaller and smaller pieces until its done.

6.  Remove distractions.  Perhaps the easiest strategy is to clear your work area of any item or items that might distract you.  So, get rid of your phone, tablet, any magazines or books, or other items that might entice you to procrastinate. 

7. Identify your most and least productive times.  Everyone has a time when they are most and least productive when it comes to work.  For many people, their most productive times are just after they wake up; while their least productive times are just before they go to sleep.  Scheduling the task or tasks you absolutely must do for right after you wake up will help you get key tasks done. 

8.  Set intermediate goals.  If you cannot set goals for when you will finish a task, you can set intermediate goals, say for when you will finish one aspect of the task.  This will also help you get tasks completed. 

9. Create a daily goal and catalog when you meet that goal.  If setting intermediate or final goals is too difficult, you can try to set daily goals.  For example, you can set a goal as to how much time you will spend on each task you must complete.  At the end of the day, you can them scratch it off your list or give yourself a star or check for completing the daily goal. 

10.  Reward yourself when you successfully implement the plan.  Some people work best when they are rewarded for completed tasks.  If this is you, you can create a reward for each task you complete either in a day, week, or month.  For example, if you need to exercise, and it’s difficult for you, you can give yourself a reward for exercising three days a week.  That reward could be anything. For me, it would be a book.  I love to read!  And I love books! So, my reward for doing something that is hard for me to complete is to purchase one book at the end of the month.

11. Visualize your future self-experiencing the outcomes of your work.  Visualization is a key strategy many people use to get through task they do not want to do or that are difficult for them.  For example, if you cannot stand giving presentations, you can imagine yourself after the presentation is over.  You can see people clapping and smiling and others telling you what a good job you did. 

12.  Count to 10 before you indulge the impulse to procrastinate.  A strategy some people employ is counting to 10 before they procrastinate.  So, if their phone dings, letting them know they have a notification, they count to 10 and then decide whether to indulge the impulse or continue working.  The pause can allow you to refocus on what you are doing. 

13.  Avoid being a perfectionist.  As written earlier, perfectionists tend to continually make changes or not even try to complete a task because they don’t think it will be good enough.  Learning that a completed task is better than a perfect task is the key to stop being a perfectionist.

14.  Set a limit to procrastination.  If, when given a task, you suddenly desire to do something else, you are procrastinating.  Setting a time limit to how long you do that something else may be necessary, especially if you are wasting time.  Put a time limit on your time wasting, and then get back to your assignment. 

References

How to Stop Procrastinating: Overcoming the Habit of Delaying Important Tasks (n.d.) Mindtools. www.mindtools.com

Procrastination. (n.d.) www.psychologytoday.com

What is Procrastination? Kendra Cherry.  May 30, 2020 www.verywellmind.com

Why People Procrastinate (n.d.) www.solveprocrastination.com

Procrastination, anxiety, depression, distractibility, fear of failure, indecisiveness, self-efficacy, implementation, motivation, perfectionism, prioritization, self-belief, SMART goals, visualization.

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