Procrastination is the biggest killer for productivity yet so many of us struggle with it.
For example, you may have a huge deadline due but instead of doing your work, you’re browsing the internet for hours. Or you know you should hang that picture frame that has been staring at you for the last week but instead you decide to watch a TV show you love. Or you know you need to go workout but instead you tell yourself that it’s too cold and tomorrow you’ll run a little longer instead.
When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing. And when it is too late to do them, we panic and wish we got started earlier.
In order to stop procrastinating, we need to understand why we do it in the first place.
Here are four reasons I’ve identified that fuel my lack of action:
- Procrastinate for perfect: Telling yourself you need more time, resources, energy, a better plan, whatever to get it done.
- I will do it better later: You work best under pressure, right? Not really, but it may be the only way you’re used to getting things done.
- Productive off putting: Taking care of all those other things you’ve put off in favor of what you need to get done.
- Maybe, maybe not: Continually question a decision and can’t move forward.
“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” – Karen Lamb
So, how do we overcome procrastinating? Try one of these 9 suggestions:
- Remind yourself that there’s always more to be done than can be done. Then ask yourself if you’re getting the right things done.
- Make a smart to-do list by including only the items that you’re avoiding, not the ones you know you’ll do anyway. Then set deadlines.
- Break the task down to lessen the sense of being overwhelmed. Once you start to enjoy a small accomplishment or two, you’re more likely to finish
- Eliminate temptation to do something else (log off Facebook and put your phone in the other room)
- Bargain with yourself. If you finish making those sales calls now, you can read that new book by the pool later.
- Focus on the success you will achieve and the joy you will feel.
- Come up with a consequence that will stop you from procrastinating. If you don’t finish writing that business proposal, you have to go without eating out for a month.
- Ask someone to help you complete the task. Why are we so afraid to ask for help?
- Make your intentions known. This will add pressure, and for some of us, avoiding the embarrassment of not achieving a set goal is the greatest motivator.
Books I would recommend to read if you’re serious about kicking your procrastination habit:
Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy
The legendary Eat That Frog! (more than 450,000 copies sold and translated into 23 languages) provides the 21 most effective methods for conquering procrastination and accomplishing more. This new edition is revised and updated throughout, and includes brand new information on how to keep technology from dominating our time.
The Now Habit by Neil A. Fiore
The Now Habit offers a comprehensive plan to help readers lower their stress and increase their time to enjoy guilt-free play. Dr. Fiore’s techniques will help any busy person start tasks sooner and accomplish them more quickly, without the anxiety brought on by the negative habits of procrastination and perfectionism.
Procrastination by Jane B. Burka
Based on years of counseling, psychologists Jane B. Burka and Lenora M. Yuen offer a probing, sensitive, and sometimes humorous look at the problem that troubles everyone. Revealing the reasons we put off tasks-fears of failure, success, control, separation, and attachment-the authors outline a practical, tested program to overcome procrastination. Candid and understanding, Procrastination is a must-have today for anyone who puts everything off until tomorrow.