Everyone procrastinates at some point. You know the importance of having a to-do list and what tasks you need to get done to move forward. However, you just can’t seem to find the motivation to do them. Or maybe you settle down to work, only to find plenty of distractions that keep you from making any progress.
What are the most effective ways of overcoming procrastination?
Procrastination happens to all of us. The good news is that you can learn how to handle it so that you can become more productive. While most people understand that this habit stops them from getting things done, many are not aware that it can also affect their health.
Research has discovered that procrastination can increase stress, bring health problems, and lower performance. Getting used to delaying your tasks can also lead to lower self-esteem and self-confidence. Overcoming procrastination isn’t easy – but it’s something we must work hard to conquer.
Strategies for overcoming procrastination to be more productive
Here are seven strategies for overcoming procrastination so you can start being more productive right away.
1.) Encourage more progress through rewards.
One of the common reasons people procrastinate is because they don’t receive any pleasure in doing the work. When people associate pain with effort, they choose to procrastinate.
For example: when people first join the gym, they are all fired up to workout. They enjoy the thought of hitting the gym. They feel good that they are making progress and moving towards their goals. However, the majority of them fail to maintain their level of motivation. Their drive will eventually fade, and they will associate pain with going to the gym.
They tell themselves that they have to get up early, drive for an hour, get changed, workout hard, take a bath, then drive back home. They start seeing the pain rather than the reward.
Counteract this effect by rewarding your progress. As long as you are taking action and moving forward, you should reward yourself to feel good and help yourself stay on track. This is how you can keep your current momentum even though it’s difficult.
2.) Focus on taking just one small step at time.
Another common reason people procrastinate is because they feel overwhelmed by progress. They try to look at things as a whole rather than focusing on small details they can tackle right away.
For instance: if you want to hit the gym but don’t feel like doing it, just focus on the one step you can immediately accomplish: which is to change into work-out clothes. Trust me, when you change your attire, your mood will transform as well. You already built up the momentum.
The same goes for writing. If you want to write an article of 2,000 words but don’t have the motivation to do so, just tell yourself that all you need to write is only 100 words. Once you’re done, you will have the drive to continue and finish the entire thing.
Focusing on taking just one small step at a time greatly lowers your resistance to taking action. It makes the task seem easy. Once you’re doing it, you put yourself in a loop of action that makes you unstoppable!
3.) Find an accountability partner and leverage on eustress.
Sometimes, a little stress can be good. Scientists refer to positive stress as “eustress”. But this isn’t just ‘good stressors’ – it’s also reacting positively to stressors that would normally overwhelm most people.
But it’s not easy to be optimistic about challenges all the time. A way to combat this is to make a public commitment with a friend or trusted loved one. This creates a source of ‘good stress’ because someone is there to check on your progress.
This is how you can leverage on eustress for overcoming procrastination. So if you want to achieve or do something, share your idea with folks who would be ready to support you. When you do, you are creating a promise you’re more likely to keep because someone is there to keep you accountable.
4.) Minimize distractions.
We all know that distractions are one of the most common factors that stop us from taking action. Imagine when you want to focus on a certain task, but all of a sudden, your friend asks you to check out a funny video that has gone viral on Facebook. What do you do?
If you choose to check out the video, you delay your work. This is why it’s important to get rid of distractions as much as possible. A great method to handle distractions and make sure you get work done is through time-blocking.
Simply create time blocks or slots within your day to complete certain tasks. During the given time, you should do nothing else except focus solely on the work in front of you until it’s done. According to experts, this is a more efficient way to increase productivity.
5.) Manage your self-talk.
Do you know that procrastination often starts from your mind? Believe it or not, it’s YOU who usually talks yourself out of doing something. It is what you tell yourself that stops you from moving forward.
You tell yourself that it’s raining out there, so it’s better to stay indoors. You convince yourself that building a website is difficult. You justify that you’re already tired, so you need to take plenty of rest. As you can see, you are your own enemy.
Overcoming procrastination involves learning how to overcome your own negative self-talk. Rather than thinking about all the excuses that stop you from taking action, ask yourself this question :
“What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
This question can help you identify the one small and important task that you can do right away. When you change the way you talk to yourself, you change your life.
6.) Always think about your “why”.
When you lose your sense of purpose, you will procrastinate. People do things for a certain reason. Whatever the reason is, when we lose it, we also lose our motivation and willpower to do important stuff.
This is why you must always remind yourself of WHY you do what you do. Why do you think most people fail to achieve their goals? It’s because they don’t have a clear and specific reason why they want to accomplish the tasks that will get them there.
When your purpose isn’t strong, your motivation will falter. You’d rather choose to do something more pleasurable than take action and work on your goals. So understand why you do what you do. Whenever you feel like procrastinating on your task, always go back to your purpose
7.) Optimize your environment.
The environment that we are in has the power to shape our lives. Noisy and negative surroundings will never make you productive. On your quest towards overcoming procrastination, build an encouraging environment that will motivate you to do your best.
For example: if you have to work on the laptop for hours, get yourself a good table and a comfortable ergonomic chair. Make sure you are exposed to enough natural light. Check that the room temperature is just right for optimum performance.
A messy and disorganized workstation can be distracting. The moment you see the big pile of papers and messy table, the scattered pens, books, and files everywhere – you may lose your drive to work because you already feel stressed.
Transform your workstation. Create a great place to work in and you will procrastinate less.