We’ve all been there. You have a deadline looming or a task that you desperately need to get done, but instead of working on it, you find yourself scrolling through social media, checking your email for the millionth time, or watching pointless videos on YouTube. Most of the time this sort of procrastination is harmless; however, sometimes it can cause problems at work, college, or even in our relationships. If nothing else, it can result in major stress when we realize how much we have to do and how little time we have left to do it in! Looking for a way to break out of the cycle? Here are some top tips.
Why do we procrastinate?
Procrastination is delaying or avoiding a task, specifically in a way that is unnecessary, irrational, or counterproductive. There are lots of reasons why we do this. For example, you might be overwhelmed by the size of the task, or fear that you may not be able to complete it to a high enough standard. Alternatively, you might underestimate the time that it takes to get a job done, or simply not be motivated to do it without the pressure of an impending deadline. Sometimes we are just waiting for some mythical inspiration to strike before we get started. Don’t despair though—whatever the causes behind your procrastination, there are plenty of tips and tricks you can try to break the habit.
Tips for overcoming procrastination
Ready to make a change and overcome the urge to procrastinate? Here are some strategies to help you out. Experiment with a few and see which work best for you—remember, different tactics might work better with different tasks or fit the sort of mood you’re in:
- Turn off your cellphone notifications and block social media sites for a certain amount of time in order to minimize distractions
- Break up imposing tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks. For example, instead of “renew car insurance,” begin with “contact Root Insurance for a quote”
- Try to avoid multitasking, as this often results in you feeling busy but getting very little done
- Socialize with productive and driven people, as their attitude will likely rub off on you
- Allow yourself small rewards when you finish a task or accomplish what you set out to do
- Find a friend who can keep you accountable and check that you’re staying on track (and you can do the same for them)
- Set a five-minute timer and promise yourself you’ll work solidly for that long. Chances are, once the five minutes are up and you’ve started the task, you’ll be motivated to continue with it
- Take a short walk in the fresh air to reset your brain, or do some quick stretches
- Figure out what time of day you’re most productive, and schedule your work-time to match
- Create a work environment that’s conducive to productivity—get rid of clutter, have everything you need in easy reach, and set up your desk ergonomically
- Have a clear to-do list with what you want to achieve every day, and when all of your projects must be completed by
Try working in a coffee shop for a change of scenery. You might find that having other people around you stops you from wasting time!