Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy. -Wayne Dyer-
I should have finished this article last week, but I just couldn’t find the time to do it. Ok, I did everything else but this because they were easier to do. Like most people I struggle with procrastination. Procrastination is one of those skills that is easy to pick up and become really good at when we should be working hard. Because it has been affecting my productivity, I have made a list of how I manage procrastination effectively. Read on to find out how I do it.
The Art of Procrastination
Before we can deal with a problem, it is good to know the enemy. There are many ways that our minds can convince us to do every other thing except the things that we have to do. Some of my procrastination habits include checking my emails, surfing the internet, reading my comics or watching a DVD or playing video games. Sometimes I might watch 2 DVDs if the task is daunting. And before I know it, it is time for bed. Yet another unproductive day has gone by for me.
The Consequences of Procrastination
Every action or failure to act has consequences. To deal with procrastination, we have to be fully aware of what it is doing to our lives. For each day that I procrastinate, the things I have to do pile up. What was by itself a small and easily managed task combines with other tasks to become an unmanageable snowball. For all that I fail to do on time; I have to borrow time from elsewhere to get it done. This in turn eats into the time I have for getting other things done. As a result, procrastination creates a great amount of stress that affects my productivity, harmony and peace of mind.
How to Manage Procrastination
During a very busy life I have often been asked, “How did you manage to do it all?” The answer is very simple. It is because I did everything promptly. -Richard Tangye-
These are some of the methods that work best for me when it comes to dealing with procrastination.
-Calm Your Mind
A restless mind cannot focus on any task at hand. Try meditating for 20 minutes before you begin what you have to do. Not only will this help you to calm your thoughts, it will also help you to focus on the task at hand. This will help you to deal with procrastination more effectively.
-Eliminate All Forms of External Distractions
Eliminate all forms of external distractions. If email or facebook or the internet etc distracts you, make sure you cut off your access to them. You could either work offline or away from your laptop or PC. Without any distractions, you force yourself to focus on the task at hand.
-Why Tomorrow is Bad for Managing Procrastination
One reason for procrastination is the belief that you can do the job tomorrow. Do not give yourself an escape route. What you leave unfinished today will add to the work that tomorrow brings. What was once manageable by itself will become unmanageable when it snowballs with other tasks. Finish each day’s work today because there is no tomorrow.
-Perceptions and Procrastination
Your mind tends to exaggerate the magnitude of a task. Reality is often different from your perception of things. When you begin a task, you will often find that it is not as difficult as imagined. So think less and begin early.
-Create Meaning for Your Task
When you don’t know why you have to do something, you are less likely to do it. So a great way to deal with procrastination is to know the reason for getting it down. For example, finishing a difficult project efficiently and effectively can get you promoted. This can mean the fulfilment of your ambitions or more money for your family. There is no right or wrong reason for meaning. There is only an effective or ineffective meaning for motivating you. Having a meaning for finishing a task will not finish it for you, but it will give you the motivation needed to get it done. Having meaning in life has many benefits. You might want to create meaning for other aspects of your life as well.
-Breaking the Task Down
Procrastination usually occurs when you feel overwhelmed about what you have to do. The tasks at hand are difficult or troublesome. The more overwhelming the tasks are, the more you procrastinate. To counter this, break down and separate the tasks. Then for each task, break it down into simple steps that are doable. When you tackle your tasks in small bits, it is easier to get things done. Step by step, you will slowly but surely finish everything.
Prioritizing your tasks gives you much needed clarity. You will see at a glance the relative importance of the things you have to do and how you should allocate your time and energy. Arrange your tasks in the order that is most productive for you.
-Set Clear Definable Goals
After prioritizing your tasks, set clear definable goals to accomplish them. This gives you a better idea of what needs doing and by when. Next, schedule your tasks and do them. For example, when I give myself 1 hour to finish an important section in my article, I spend the 1 hour focusing solely on that. During this period, I resist all distractions until I finish my work as planned. By defining your goals, it makes it easier for you to get things done.
To manage procrastination effectively, you need to build momentum to overcome the inertia. One way of doing this is through a to-do list. As you work through your to-do list, cross out or tick off the things you complete. The more you do, the more your momentum builds. The satisfaction and motivation you gain from seeing the amount of things you have accomplished is usually sufficient to get more things done. So build up your momentum and mow down all the items you have to do on your list one by one.
-Finish the Easy Things First
Finish the easy things first. Because they are easy to do, you will be able to complete them quickly and move on to the next item. This helps you to gain momentum to finish more things. When you have sufficient momentum, you will have the energy needed to tackle the difficult tasks.
-Plunge In and Start
Getting started is always the hardest part. So just plunge in and start. Do something, anything. It doesn’t have to be perfect; you can always refine it as you go along. The important thing is to get something done and carry on the momentum from there.
-The Power of Rewards and Incentives
Motivate yourself with rewards and incentives. If you manage to finish something, reward yourself for it. But always remember to match the tasks to the rewards. If not, you will find it harder to motivate yourself in the future. I might reward myself by playing my video games in the evening or buying something I like if the task is worth it. Rewards and incentives give us the extra push needed to overcome procrastination. Use it to get things done.
If you find yourself procrastinating over the task at hand, consider doing something else first. Further procrastination only wastes time and energy better used elsewhere. If necessary, take a short break before you get back to work. The order in which you get things done isn’t important. What is important is to build and keep up your momentum of finishing your tasks.
Procrastination is hard to manage because you need discipline to deal with it. As far as you can, do not allow your work to snowball. In the event that it does, apply the methods above. You can only beat procrastination through habit, momentum and a multi-prong approach. Be alert and try to tackle procrastination every time it happens until it is second nature for you. As always start early and break down your tasks so that they seem less daunting to tackle. In the end, the only way to deal with procrastination is to act.