Welcome to our 10 quick and easy tips for overcoming procrastination.
Whilst you might think that ‘putting things off for another day’ is a time saver, it is actually a real killer of time. Put simply it’s a waste of your valuable life. However, it is something that can easily be eradicated.
This is the first of two reports we have on this subject.
PART ONE : in this article we provide 10 practical tips that you can use today and immediately see success with. They are designed to give you the motivation you need to tackle the tasks you’ve been putting off.
PART TWO : is for the serial procrastinators. We take the 5 biggest ‘deep-rooted’ causes of procrastination and brush them aside one by one… for good. This is for people who are always looking for an excuse to ‘put things off’.
The information in these two articles will help with both procrastination at home and procrastination which might affect you in your work, or business, life.
Let’s see if we can ‘cure’ any issues the simple way first………
10 tips for overcoming procrastination
#1 – The first part is the hardest
The hardest part of getting going is………… getting going.
Once you understand that, and can break through the first 10 minutes of any task, it becomes a whole lot easier.
Exercising is a great example of this. The mere thought of exercising seems like hell… Until you start to warm up, then it suddenly becomes a lot easier.
Make sure you start with a simple bit of the task, just to get the ball rolling. But remember, even if you are only tackling a small part of an overall project, make sure you COMPLETE that part in full.
#2 – Schedule the task
Designate time for doing the task that you are procrastinating on. A task is much more likely to get done if it is scheduled in a diary, or on a calendar, rather than put on a to-do list.
You wouldn’t miss a lunch date that was in your diary and, from a psychological perspective, you are much less likely to miss a working task, or exercising session, if it is placed it’s in your diary.
Do not have any excuse for changing the diary schedule. Make a point, no matter how painful, of starting the task during the designated time – and stick to it !!
#3 – You’re not going to be perfect at the start
Accept, and understand, that things are rarely perfect to start off with. If you wait for the ‘perfect day’, you could be waiting for ever.
Too many people use the excuse of “I’m waiting for XYZ before I can get started”. Or “I can’t submit that report to the boss because it’s not perfect”. Most people in business today appreciate speed rather than accuracy (we’re not saying we agree with this, it’s just the way it is).
So, start with what you’ve got. You can always re-tweak things later.
And don’t wait for the perfect weather before starting an outdoor exercise regime either. Do it today – even if it’s raining.
#4 – Get momentum
Once you get ‘the ball rolling’, keep that ball rolling at speed. Anything moving at speed is harder to stop : a car, a ball, and you working.
This tip is so under-rated. Start the task you’ve been putting off and do it at speed and you’ll see. You’ll get it done quicker, and you won’t have time to think about other things that you’d rather be doing.
EXAMPLE : If you’ve been putting off exercising, quickly change into your work-out clothes. Don’t think about it, or sit on the bed slowly slipping into your socks. Grab those gym clothes now and put them on as quickly as possible.
#5 – There’s always a positive and a negative for doing something
For every job or task there are positive reasons for doing it and negative reasons for not doing it.
Usually, we are more driven by fear and negativity. If you focus deeply on the potential problems which might happen if you don’t do the task, then you are much more likely to get the job done.
EXAMPLE : You’rve been putting off that report for the boss. What could happen as a result ?
- You will miss the deadline and you could be disciplined, or dismissed.
- You’ll have no income and this will affect your wife and children.
- You could also lose your house, or other possessions.
#6 – Once you are ‘in the zone’ then don’t stop
Very often people are full of enthusiasm when they start something, and yet the following day they look at the same task and wonder what the previous day’s excitement was all about.
Occasionally, we work on something and time just flies. If you are ever in that situation then don’t stop. These are precious moments and you should take full advantage of them.
Where practical, do the task to completion. It is so much harder to pick up a task ‘the next day’ and very often people just don’t go back and complete the task at all.
A task 99% complete but left for another day, is a task 100% incomplete – and that has just wasted your life.
At Successful Personal Growth, we have been known to work until 4am before now. We know that it’s vital to complete an article, rather than leave 6 lines over-night and have to start the thinking process again, the following morning.
#7 – Don’t have an excuse for stopping
This is slightly different to the previous point, in that you should never have a distraction or reason for stopping part-way through an activity.
This means that you need to consider all of the tools and information required to complete a task before you even start it.
EXAMPLE : If you are painting a room, you would want to make sure there you have all of the necessary protective covering, paint-brushes, paint, step-ladders and whatever else is needed before you dip the paint brush (or roller) into the paint.
If you are doing some work in your garden, make sure you have all of the necessary tools before you start. Don’t give yourself an ‘excuse’ to have to stop and go to the gardening center mid-way through.
If you are working on your computer, make sure you have all of the necessary information and stationery with you….. and start off with a large drink, so you don’t have an excuse to stop after 15 minutes.
#8 – Tackling a large / complex task
If you have a large or complex task to do, then it is easy to feel overwhelmed. You have probably heard of the saying, “How do you eat an elephant ?”. Answer : One mouthful at a time. This applies to any task that we have to do.
There is no task that can’t be broken down into step-by-step ‘bits’. The smaller the ‘bit’ the easier (and quicker) it is to tick that ‘bit’ off the list.
- Take a deep breath
- Look at what you have
- Work out how it can be broken up (into as many ‘bits’ as possible)
- Write the ‘bits’ down so you have a list of what needs to be done
- Consider if anyone else can help you – especially with the bits you really don’t like !!
- Teamwork is fun….. and it gets the job done
#9 – Be brave. Tackle the bit you hate the most…. FIRST
Once you have the task that you’ve been procrastinating on out-of-the-way, then any associated work with that particular job should become a lot easier.
Frequently, we procrastinate on a whole project because we are focusing on one particular part of it which we are not looking forward to. And the thing that we are dreading might actually be 4 or 5 steps down the line.
Taking the last point a stage further, tackle the tasks early in the day that you’re not looking forward to. Your whole day can be ruined if you put off an unpleasant task (like making those sales calls) for later in the day. Because you’ll spend all morning fretting about what’s to come later on.
#10 Practice NOT procrastinating
Tackle the types of task you procrastinate on the most……and do them regularly.
The more you do this, the more confidence you will have that the task you procrastinate on isn’t actually that bad.
We hope that you get some benefit from the above tips. Some of the them might seem obvious, but you’ll be surprised how effective they really are. YOU JUST NEED TO TAKE ACTION !!
If you feel that you might have a bit more of a problem with getting things done, then we highly recommend part 2 of this article : Causes of severe procrastination and solutions for immediate results.
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(Image credits : Keerati (white clock), renjith krishnan (meeting in organizer), sdmania (skater), Master isolated images (Time to focus), Stuart Miles (organizer/coffee) all from FreeDigitalPhotos.net)