How to Beat Procrastination (13 Proven Methods)
Beating procrastination may be challenging, but definitely not impossible. To beat procrastination, one must be aware of why they do it, make a conscious effort to stop it, create an environment that fosters productivity, and develop habits that generally support a healthy and productive lifestyle.
Ideally, everybody wants to stay productive. But as humans, people tend to go through a stage where ending tasks remain untouched until the last minute – which causes pressure to rise along with other unfavorable circumstances such as incomplete projects, unmet deadlines, and negative feelings towards oneself.
This phase is called procrastination. It is the act of consciously delaying tasks and responsibilities.
When done continuously, this act becomes a habit. And this habit, when done for more than two months, ultimately becomes an unhealthy pattern.
The good news is that no one has to stay in that stage forever, as there are ways to defeat this progress-hindering behavior.
In this article, we will go through thirteen proven methods to beat procrastination.
1. Make a conscious effort to stop slacking around
The will to stop procrastinating begins within yourself. If you consider yourself lazy, the greatest thing you can do is alter the way you see yourself.
If you want to overcome procrastination, you need to picture yourself as a highly productive person and do whatever it takes to become one.
However, before you can get into this state, you must examine yourself entirely. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What daily practices can you gradually change to become productive?
- How can being productive help you out?
- What rewards can you give yourself if you successfully transition into a better state than the one you are in today?
- What small actions can you begin doing to support your goal of being productive?
Commit yourself to being consistent in living up to your answers, especially with the last question. Then, you can start applying the next steps.
2. Create a work-conducive space
Most of the time, your low energy levels are not the enemy but your messy workspace. Try to create a clean and organized desk to avoid wasting time looking for the items or documents you need.
A cluttered desk can cost you an hour or two when looking for some urgently needed documents. Not to mention, you’d end up wasting time cleaning and rearranging things instead of working.
Cleanliness aside, you can set your workspace to suit your working needs. You can start by avoiding anything that could distract you from your work or study, like your mobile phone.
You can also place your most valuable work items close to you for a seamless workflow.
3. Identify your peak hours
Each person’s body has its own peak hours. And this is something you can use to your advantage, particularly if you’re in total control of your working time. Work during the part of the day when you feel more energized.
Regardless of your diligence and dedication, you will always have days that are not-so-productive.
In fact, studies indicate that an average American has 60 bad days in a year. This means that there are a lot of things that can potentially affect our mood towards work.
The technique here is to observe yourself. What time of the day do you usually feel the most energized?
Once you’ve figured that out, begin working on that period and keep the momentum up.
4. Learn to prioritize
Before you can start dividing your task into smaller, more workable pieces, you need to understand which ones need your urgent attention. To accomplish this, you need to:
- Make a list of all your tasks and responsibilities within the day.
- Determine which among your written tasks are important.
- Highlight urgent tasks.
- Create an effective schedule with the information gathered from the prior steps.
When you prioritize correctly, you will feel less reactive, more focused, and purposeful.
5. Make a detailed schedule with explicit milestones
Setting a single deadline for everything invites procrastination.
That’s because it enables you to believe that you can still slack off and continually put things off until it’s actually too late to get things started.
Breaking your project down to certain milestones establishes a concrete timetable with deadlines for each little activity. This way, you know you must complete each work within a specific time limit.
Because when you have listed other milestones by then, not meeting these mini-deadlines will ruin the rest of the schedule you made, which then produces a sense of urgency for you to keep up with what you wrote.
6. Be held accountable
Because our brain’s reinforcement system is so sensitive to our social position, telling others we’re going to get something done may substantially magnify the attractiveness of actually doing it.
According to research, whether we are valued by others is extremely important to us. In essence, no one wants to appear incompetent, sluggish, or negligent to others.
So, by being held accountable, we add social incentives to keeping our commitment – which then intensifies our desire to finish the task on time.
7. Just do it
Pushing yourself to take the first step towards accomplishing your goals will make you feel you can do it. Because once you get the hang of it, you will feel continuously like doing it from then on.
Sometimes, when you realize you have a mountain of work to do, you begin to feel overwhelmed, tired, and unable to move. However, these feelings might just be all in your mind, and they will most likely all go away once you get things started.
So whenever you feel this way, try to muster every single bit of discipline and do what it takes to get started.
In the end, even if you find yourself moving at a slow pace, you still have moved things forward. And note that progress, no matter how slow, is still progress. And that is better than nothing at all.
8. Take short breaks
Taking short breaks during working hours is proven to reduce stress, which in turn improves focus and performance.
The essential thing for any working person is to be as productive as possible while working.
However, you can’t expect to work on something for an infinite number of hours and expect to be productive. You’re human. You need rest, even just for a short amount of time.
To make your breaks meaningful, you can opt to:
- Eat some healthy snacks
- Go for a walk
- Rest your eyes
- Do a quick exercise
However, be careful not to abuse these breaks or take longer than necessary, as it can backfire and bring you back to procrastinating mode.
To prevent this from happening, use the Pomodoro technique – where every twenty-five minutes of work is followed by a five-minute break.
This is a justifiable amount of time to pee, wake yourself up, breathe, relax, and reset for the next working period.
9. Remember all the rewards that come with finishing your tasks
Consider how rewarding it would feel to complete your tasks. When you think of the benefits that come with finishing something, you will feel more motivated to accomplish them.
Thus, take a moment to list everything you want to do after getting things done and try visualizing them afterwards.
Most of the time, reminding your brain of all the satisfaction it can get once you finish everything you need to do for the day would be enough to get you unstuck.
And that is because this exercise encourages your brain to think of all the rewards that come with finishing your tasks, giving it the power and motivation it needs for a head start.
10. Surround yourself with the right people
The people that you actively choose to surround yourself with can play a huge part in beating procrastination. This is because when you hang around go-getters and hard workers, you will develop their drive and desire towards personal productivity.
They will influence the way you perceive things. And their daily choices can rub off on you, no matter how independent you think you are.
This is why your progress can either increase or decrease based on your circle of influence. You can also learn as you listen and observe their experiences and habits, which is why you slowly adopt their behaviors without realizing it.
11. Develop habits that foster a productive lifestyle
Most of the time, it’s our lifestyle choices that lead us to procrastinate.
Biologically, a decrease in energy is observed when a person is overworked or exhausted, which may lead to a lack of drive and enthusiasm. Hence, procrastination.
Some scientifically-proven habits that lead to a healthy and productive lifestyle include:
- Getting enough quality sleep – which according to the National Sleep Foundation – is between seven to nine hours. Sleep is an excellent stress reliever. A consistent sleep schedule soothes and heals the body, increases focus, improves mood, and refines a person’s reasoning and decision-making abilities.
- Eating small, nutritious meals throughout the day. A healthy diet with low sugar, lots of healthy fats, and green vegetables preserves a steady amount of glucose. Keeping stable glucose concentrations minimizes blood sugar drops and spikes, which are unhealthy for the brain and terrible for productivity.
- Drinking plenty of water for hydration. Drinking plenty of water helps boost your attentiveness, concentration, focus, endurance, memory, and mood.
- Working out a couple times each week. Exercise not only gives you more energy and prevents the afternoon weariness dip, but it also maintains momentum and enhances mental abilities.
12. Avoid negative thoughts
The practice of extended negative thinking reduces your brain’s capacity to comprehend, analyze, and create memories. Essentially, you’re depleting your brain of its resources, so it is important to avoid negative thoughts entirely.
There are times when our thoughts disrupt our way of doing things. In fact, negative thoughts can be the reason why some people tend to procrastinate.
To understand this better, here are concrete examples below:
- I’m lazy. I am known for submitting outputs late.
- I must do it flawlessly or I will not do it at all. Hence, I need all the time to prepare for it.
- This is a very difficult assignment. It would be hard to accomplish it even if I start right now.
- The outputs that I give are always incorrect; so even if I start doing it now, nothing will change. My work will still end up ugly.
- This task isn’t something I feel like doing right now. I’ll just do it later.
13. Understand why you are procrastinating
If your frequent procrastination negatively affects your life to the point of continuously feeling shame and guilt, then chances are, you are unconsciously struggling about something.
Knowing what causes it can help keep you away from chronic procrastination.
Issues may range from various mental health difficulties such as anxiety and depression, emotional blocks, ADHD, and many others.
Have yourself checked right away, so you begin treatment.
Procrastination negatively affects a person’s life. It may begin with a conscious choice of putting off tasks for now. But it could eventually turn into a habit, and then an unhealthy cycle, if left unaddressed.
Such a negative practice not only leads to unfinished tasks and missed deadlines. It also results in a decrease in one’s confidence and self-esteem.
For this reason, overcoming procrastination isn’t a walk in the park. It takes time, effort, and discipline to achieve. However, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to break out of it.
Beating procrastination involves being aware of its existence and the reasons behind its occurrence. It includes the creation of deliberate efforts to prevent it from becoming a cycle that prohibits productivity and affects your quality of life. This involves establishing a productive atmosphere and cultivating habits that promote a healthy lifestyle.
Beating procrastination is essential in enhancing personal productivity. With everything planned and done by the day, life becomes easier and much more organized, with no time or resources wasted.
To boost your productivity, consider taking a Personal Productivity Course at Iris Reading today. Click the link and register now.