Procrastination is probably the number one barrier to productivity and success. No matter what an outstanding professional one is, their performance will always leave wanting, unless they learn how to stay on-task and avoid putting things off until tomorrow (the day after tomorrow, the next Monday, and so on).
But it’s entirely possible to stop procrastinating. Just follow these tips.
1. Set Realistic Goals
Success and the sense of accomplishment are motivating. In turn, failure to meet one’s expectations for oneself causes discouragement and makes one procrastinate. So, make sure the goals you set are realistic. You may, for example, make your resume look perfect and find the best rated resume services, but it’s still naive to believe you’ll be able to find a new job in a week.
That being said, don’t be afraid to set ambitious goals. It’s okay to think highly of yourself and believe in your abilities. Just make sure that what you’re planning is not beyond what a human being is capable of. Otherwise, once you realize your goals are near-impossible to achieve, procrastination is inevitable.
2 Itemize Big Tasks
Another helpful way to stop procrastinating is to change your approach to big and challenging projects.
Psychologists say that the bigger the task, the more likely one is to procrastinate. Our brain anticipates major difficulties, and we feel overwhelmed. As a result, we subconsciously try to avoid hard work and failure by procrastinating.
The trick that helps avoid this is itemizing all big tasks on your to-do list.
Break each challenging and time-consuming project into small manageable steps. This way, you’ll get a tiny dopamine shot after completing each of the steps, and the resulting motivation boost will keep you going.
3. Make To-Do Lists
To-do lists are an incredible way to avoid forgetting about tasks and beat procrastination. They help one stay more organized and motivated (thanks to the motivating power of crossing out task after task).
By the way, consider switching from regular pen and paper to to-do list apps. Here are a few decent ones:
- Todoist. Todoist is a simple yet helpful app you can access from basically any device, regardless of the operating system. Such accessibility is super convenient.
- Google Tasks. Google Tasks is as minimalist as it gets. If you’re new to to-do list apps, it’s a great place to start. And it’s free.
- Notion. Notion is a much more complex and multi-purpose app. But once you learn how everything works there, you’ll appreciate Notion’s ability to turn you into a self-organization expert.
- Habitica. Habitica doesn’t shy away from the gamification trend. So, if you want to keep your to-do list-ing fun and playful, give it a chance.
4. Adjust the To-Do List to Your Energy Level
The key to beating procrastination is listening to your body and mind. Sure, it’s great to be a relentless go-getter. But if you ignore your fatigue and try to power through your to-do list no matter how you feel, you’ll fail sooner rather than later.
The human brain isn’t a machine. You can’t just force it to work 24/7.
Don’t feel guilty adjusting your to-do list based on how you feel at the moment. If it’s a low-energy day, focus on easier tasks instead of trying to cross out the biggest item on the list. But begin with the most challenging tasks if you feel motivated and full of energy.
5. Get Rid of Distractors
Everyone has their procrastination pit stops, meaning the things they’re typically distracted by. Social media and emails are near-universal distractors.
Pay attention to what makes you quit what you’re doing (and then find yourself deep into scrolling feed hours later). Try to eliminate it.
For example, someone who is often distracted by notifications should consider muting everything to stay focused on the task they’re currently working on. Or you can go even further and start using a distraction-blocking app, such as Dewo or FocusMe.
6. Don’t Neglect Breaks
Contrary to what a lot of people seem to believe, working for hours without taking a single break doesn’t help them do more. Being such a hard worker may be impressive, but it’s also counterproductive.
The thing is, everyone gets tired every hour and a half or so. When this happens, it’s essential to take a break to recharge.
The best way to feel re-energized in just 15 minutes is to do something physically active. Go for a 20-minute walk with your dog, do yoga, or complete a quick workout. You’ll instantly feel that your head is clearer, and you’re ready to keep working.
7. Reward Yourself for Job Well Done
Finally, it’s important to be kind and patient with oneself when trying to unlearn procrastination.
Don’t beat yourself up too much if what was supposed to be a 15-minute-long break has turned into an hour-long one. Just keep going and try to avoid repeating the same mistake in the future.
Also, reward yourself. If you’ve managed to complete everything on your to-do list, treat yourself to a nice dinner out. Or watch an extra episode of your favorite Netflix show if you’ve finished all the work for the day even earlier than planned.
If you’re a die-hard procrastinator, there’s a long journey ahead of you. But you can make progress and learn to procrastinate less almost instantly as long as you use all procrastination-beating tactics.
Make sure that your productivity goals are realistic, break down big tasks into smaller ones, and write a to-do list for each day. Also, take breaks and listen to your body. And most importantly, believe in yourself.
About the Author
Gloria Lunsford is Content Writer at ResumeService24 with more than five years of experience in the resume writing service industry. Her primary specialization is English and Marketing, but she writes on a great number of other topics.