Does this sound familiar?
You’ve got an important task to complete – a report; assignment; a project to work on (you can fill in your own blank here) and even though you really need to do it; and even though your deadline is inching ever closer; instead of starting you do something else?
I’m willing to bet that it does…
Procrastination (otherwise known as the thief of time) can hit the best of us, and can cause all sorts of problems…from the obvious of just being a time waster; to missing deadlines; to not producing our best work; or even to cause an increase of stress as we pull all nighters and work ourselves to the bone!
The thing is – procrastinating once in a while is not really a bad thing. It can give our brain a rest and help us to think problems through. However, if this is getting to be more often than not, it’s time to do something about it.
So – here are some helpful tips to give a try.
- Decide how procrastination feels for you
How does it feel when you’re procrastinating? Guilty? Mischievous? Like you’re multi-tasking and doing something useful?
Whatever it is for you, nail down that feeling, as you’ll be able to use that to identify when you’ve started procrastinating. For example – if you look at your to do list and notice the task that you really should be working on, but you say to yourself – I’ll just clear my inbox first and then I’ll get started – chances are you’re procrastinating and all you’re doing is convincing yourself that you’re doing something worthwhile – but you’ll still get that feeling in the pit of your stomach that you’re wasting time….look out for it!
- Pin down how you prefer to procrastinate
Once you start to recognise how it feels, the next step is to notice what your go to procrastinating tasks are. Is it…Facebook (or social media in general) e-mails; general admin; an easy task on your list; household tasks like ironing; cleaning; cooking; or mindlessly going through things on your phone?
Whatever your particular flavour of procrastination is – pin point it, as you’ll be able to spot when you’re doing it much quicker.
- Decide why you’re procrastinating
One of the best ways to beat procrastination is to decide why we’re doing it. It might be because the task that you need to do just doesn’t appeal (think back to revising for exams)
It might be too big and overwhelming or you might need more thinking time.
Whatever it is for you, once you’ve decided your reason you can start to do something about it.
For example – you might want to work in chunks of time like 10 minutes and give yourself regular breaks (as in the pomodoro technique)
You might want to break down your big huge task into smaller more achievable goals
Or you might want to do some brainstorming to get yourself into the mindset before you start.
- Give your procrastination a time limit
Instead of going completely cold turkey and trying to cut out procrastination altogether, have a go at giving yourself a time limit. Let’s say 10 minutes…set your alarm on your phone, and dive into Facebook – but when the alarm goes off – that’s it…funs over.
By doing this, you’re giving yourself a bit of a breather and thinking time when you need it, without it getting completely out of hand.
Whatever your try, self awareness is the first step to beating anything so once you’ve started noticing your behaviour you’ll be on the right track to combating it for good.
I’d love to hear about your tips for dealing with procrastination – let me know by leaving a comment.