You’ve realised everyone procrastinates at some point and you may have uncovered the reasons behind your procrastination, but what can you do about combatting it?
Here are my top 5 tips to keep on-task, stay focused and reduce the likelihood of succumbing to the procrastination goblins trying to lure you into inactivity.
- Eliminate distractions and interruptions. For every interruption it will take on average 20 minutes to get back on track and focused. Wherever you intend to work make sure it’s quiet (or whatever music you find suitable playing low in the background - for me it’s Classic FM) and the door is closed. Tell those around you that you are working and cannot be disturbed. This will keep you focused, in flow and on task as you work. These are the optimum conditions you need to see a task through to the end.
- Prioritise your most important, high-value tasks and do those first. This will keep you focused on what NEEDS to be done to get you closer to achieving your goals or vision. There should be no more than 3 things on your priority list - any more and it’s a to-do list. The Post It trick is really useful for this, as is reading The One Thing by Gary Keller and using a Bullet Journal. Having a plan to attack (or a priority list) will motivate you to achieve those tasks because you know the benefits of getting them done and reduce the chances of getting distracted by more fun but less value-offering tasks and succumbing to procrastination.
- Break down large tasks into a lots of little ones. Remember this: Dream big but act small every day for massive results. Breaking down larger tasks not only makes them less scary (thus reducing your likelihood of procrastinating), but it creates a more manageable list of tasks to complete so you do not feel overwhelmed by all the work you need to get done to achieve your goal. As you work through your list of smaller tasks, you will find your momentum builds, sometimes rather rapidly, keeping you excited to do the work, stay productive, and enjoying the sense of accomplishment you feel every time you tick off another task. Using a Bullet Journal is a good way to elicit all the smaller tasks needed to achieve your big task but also to keep track of your progress on a monthly, weekly and daily basis.
- Set definite deadlines. Set yourself a realistic time frame to complete the task(s) and stick to it. Do not let yourself waver and rationalise going over because this will pretty much guarantee you’ll start to procrastinate. Remember, you can do something, even when you think you can’t. Keep in mind Parkinson’s Rule (a task will expand to fill the time allowed) and give yourself a short but achievable deadline. A shorter deadline will minimise your chances of succumbing to procrastination because if your nose is to the grindstone you tend to get cracking with greater determination.
- It doesn't need to be perfect, but it does need to get done. I mentioned perfection obsession in my last post and yet again, I’m warning you about it’s ability to get you on the procrastination train to nowhere. The most important thing is to get the task done because you cannot perfect something that doesn’t exist! Get the task done, and then you can let your perfection obsession in a little to edit it to greatness. If you try to make it perfect first time you’ll get so pernickety about it that you’ll only do a little, or you’ll wait for the ‘right’ motivation/inspiration/time and procrastinate until the conditions are right. Don't waste your time! Focus on doing what you can the best you can and allow time to go back through to check and polish your work once it has been completed.