You postpone high-priority actions until the very last moment, you start a project at the last minute before your deadline, you seem to cause needless delay by focussing on less important things first…
Is this something you recognize? Then remember these seven tips to help tackle your procrastination.
Where is this behavior coming from?
Find out why you are procrastinating. The following questions can help you identify the source of your problem:
- Do you include too many tasks, or is there only 1 task that’s too big to begin with?
- Are you a perfectionist and do you keep your task completely in order from start to finish?
- Do you have difficulties to organise your thoughts or take a decision on how to get started?
- Do you try to avoid less pleasant or difficult tasks and the stress associated with it?
- Do you need to be under pressure in order to get started?
Make a plan
Create a detailed plan with deadlines. Make sure you divide a large task into smaller subtasks and that each of these has a deadline as well.
If you’re dealing with a multitude of tasks, organize your tasks by priority. Which tasks are most important or urgent (/= pleasant) and which tasks can also be done at a later date?
Your planning gives you a first overview of all tasks or subtasks that need to be done and serve as a way to control your work.
Make sure you’re not distracted by calls, e‑mails, radio, browsing the internet, colleagues or family members who ask something, etc. There will always be things you’re rather do or which others feel are more urgent. Try to schedule regular moments to answer e‑mails, make telephone calls, meet with people, … and at other times concentrate only on the task at hand.
You are not alone. Dare to ask for help when you need it. An insight or tip from someone else can help you get started even if you don’t see a way to begin. Even when the task is too difficult or you have too much work, tere may be people to support you.
It can also help to share your planning with someone, so this person can check up on your deadlines. Setting a meeting for someone to review your document may keep you from pushing the deadline.
Sometimes all you need is having a person in the same room. The sense of control helps keep you from becoming distracted.
A good beginning is half the work
Try not to focus too much on fully completing the task. In stead, focus on getting started. Even is there is not enough time to finish, or you think you won’t get far, it’s best to get started.
Once you’ve started, it’ll be easier to continue working. It may even happen that your task takes less time than you previously estimated.
Morning or evening person?
Tasks you don’t like doing or don’t know how to get started with are better saved for the moment of the day where you have the most energy. Some people feel best in the morning and can concentrate better. Others feel fresher in the afternoon or evening. At those times of the day a difficult or unpleasant takes is easier to work through.
Schedule those moments to work on less pleasent or difficult tasks.
Reward yourself each time you complete a task or subtask. You can do this with small things like: finishing your report, and then having a coffee with a colleague. Stick to the plan and don’t break your rule if your task is not completed.
You’ll also notice that finishing a task will generate a good feeling and satisfaction.