At one point or the other, even the most well-organized set of people have fallen victim to the ‘thief of time’ known as procrastination. Think about how many times you found yourself watching TV when you really should have been getting some serious work done.
Procrastination is quite detrimental to you as it can create anxiety, stress and poor performance borne out from completing tasks at the last minute. As a matter of fact, researchers discovered that procrastination may stem out from a fear of failure and low self-esteem; also, those who procrastinate often tend to get more stressed, fall ill nearer a deadline and ultimately deliver poor results.
Why we procrastinate
Procrastination is our emotional reaction to whatever it is that we are avoiding. This phenomenon is commonly called ‘mood repair’ among researchers and psychologists; basically, we tend to avoid the uncomfortable feelings associated with our work by spending more time on activities that makes us feel better. E.g playing games.
Procrastination is quite different from laziness though and should not be confused as the same thing; laziness talks about inactivity or an unwillingness to act, on the other hand, procrastination is an active process as you choose to do something else in place of the task you should be doing.
In essence, we procrastinate because our brains are wired to do so. This explains why a lot of us prioritize our present comfort at the expense of our future fulfillment and well-being even when we know it’s an irrational choice.
As soothing as it may sound to know that you are not the only procrastinator out there, it’s also disturbing to realize how much procrastination can hold you back.
So, here are a few tips that worked for me!
- Fight your fears
The fear of imperfection or making mistakes is a contributing factor to procrastination. At times, I have had to second-guess my talent with questions like ‘Is my writing good enough’? Will my audience accept me’? etc. However, I’ve realized over time that these are just mere excuses not to get stuff done. Addressing that fear stopping you from getting started in the first place can help you beat that procrastination habit.
- Create a To-do List
In my article How To Convert Social Media into a Money-making Machine, I shared the fact that I under-promise and over-deliver when it comes to the expected time-frame for the delivery of services to my clients. How do I do this? Simple!
I start by creating a to-do list of projects I’m meant to accomplish, with a deadline date attached to each task. Now, the secret is I objectively estimate the amount of time each task would take and then, I double it. So, for instance, I can give my client expecting a business plan a delivery time of two weeks and end up delivering the completed job in less than a week.
This tactic is better when compared to falling into the trap of under-estimating how long a project is going to take.
- Break down cumbersome projects
A big project can be quite intimidating and just taking a look at the massive amount of work to be done can leave you with a feeling of hopelessness. At this point, it is important you take out individual items on your list and break them down further into more manageable segments. This way, that seemingly big and daunting project becomes smaller and easier to accomplish.
- Avoid Distractions
You cannot achieve much when keep turning your attention to your Whatsapp status updates or keep checking for what’s new on TV. Set out a time void of all forms of distractions and channel that into accomplishing the task at hand.
- It’s okay to take a break
As soon as you’ve completed a task or a small portion of a bigger project, you can take a break as a form of reward for your efforts. Indulge in something you find entertaining; might be sports, social media, TV shows and so on. This helps in getting your mind relaxed and refreshed for the next project.
With so many fun and entertaining distractions around us, the urge to put things off can be quite strong. Beating procrastination is definitely not easy but it’s achievable as long as you put your mind to it.