Pretty much everyone procrastinates at one time or another. Knowing what the causes are and the ways how to beat procrastination will help you to keep its affect on your life to a minimum. Procrastination is insidious as it causes not only untouched work, but a lot of other negative psychological effects. It can create high levels of stress and anxiety. It can also affect your home life and career.
To beat this, you are going to need an anti-procrastination program. We are here to help you discover the key causes and practical things you can do to overcome it.
The problem with procrastination is when you decide to put things off, all you are doing is adding more stress and anxiety to your life. You cannot predict the unpredictable. You can’t tell if you will get sick tomorrow, which will then add to your workload. Not to mention, stress and anxiety produce negative effects on your health. Moreover, it can affect your relationships. Instead of feeling free to relax and enjoy the company of others, you become a worrier, making others feel uncomfortable around you. So, it helps to think of the big picture and put things in perspective.
What Causes Procrastination?
There is not one particular cause of procrastination as it affects each person differently. In most cases, the cause can be attributed to one, or a combination of, three things. The first is perfectionism. A lot of people do not start, or complete a task, as they do not believe they will manage to finish it to the standard required. Perfectionists also often set the bar so high on something they want to do, that it becomes unobtainable.
The second is fear. Fear makes someone put off a task, rather than start, and struggle with it. If they are afraid of the outcome, it is better to avoid starting it in the first place. This leads to the third main cause, disorganization. Most people are naturally disorganized although there are exceptions. Interestingly, a key skill that is rarely taught at a young age, or in schools, is organization. Without the ability to prioritize everything in order of importance and urgency, people put off tasks or simply do the easiest first.
Put Yourself in the Right Frame of Mind
There are three situations that you will find yourself in at one stage, or another. The first is that you overestimate the amount of time you have to complete a task, and underestimate the time you will need to complete it. The second situation is the odd thought that at another time, or on another day, you will have greater motivation to complete the task, than you have at the moment.
This is purely a result of your fear, as for the most part, there is no logical reason why one time is better than another. Finally, and very similar to the previous theory is that you are not in the right mood to do something. Thinking that a different mood will help you with a task does no really make sense, but does lead to procrastination.
Create a ‘To-Do’ List
It may seem simple, but creating a list of the tasks you need to complete, is a good way to focus your mind. You can make two separate lists, one of things that you need to do in the next week, and those that you intend to do today. If you are going to do it that way, make sure there is significant crossover between the lists, so that you are not promoting your own procrastination. On your list for the day, set start times, and durations, for the tasks on your list.
This will allow you to create a schedule, and measure your performance against it, for the next day’s list. Keep the list handy, so you can add, and cross off items, as they occur. As the list dwindles during the day, your confidence will increase. Make sure you put the more important tasks at the top of the list, to get them out of the way first.
Break Down Bigger Tasks
If you have a task that needs to be done, but it seems so huge that you do not know where to begin, take some time to analyze the task. What you are looking to do, is work out the different components that need to be completed. By breaking down the larger task into smaller pieces, it will no longer seem so difficult, or time consuming.
It can be as simple as breaking down cleaning your room into making the bed, clearing the floor, organizing your laundry and vacuuming. Now you have broken down a task which would probably take a while, into 4 smaller tasks that can be done separately, and will only take a few minutes each. It is a simple example, but the method can be applied to even the most complex of tasks.
Just because there is an official deadline for a task to be completed does not mean that you cannot make your own deadline earlier. If you have a paper due on Friday, set your own deadline for Wednesday. By doing this often, you will be able to trick your mind into thinking that your internal deadline is the actual deadline. You can also use this trick for things without official deadlines, such as committing to read a certain number of pages in an hour, and following through with it. It really is just a step-by-step process to learning how to beat procrastination. What would you do if it only took 9 steps to beat procrastination for life?
Give Yourself a Break
Set aside five or 10 minutes every hour or less, if the task is something complex like studying, and do something else. It can be another, simpler task on your to-do list, rather than just doing nothing. Breaking down your day into manageable chunks, with breaks, will make all your tasks seem easier. In addition, if you’re a writer, breaks can help alleviate writer’s block.
If you are not doing a task because the time or the equipment is not right, stop it. Instead of focusing on quality take a more quantitative approach. Your focus needs to be on getting a task complete at first. If it is not done perfectly, you can always go back to it later and improve on it. This way the task is at the very least done, and when you go back to it, there will be less left to do. In the end, it is really comes down to self-management.
When you need to complete a task that requires a lot of concentration, take the time to remove any distractions before starting. This includes things like turning off the television, put your phone on silent and remove any pleasant distractions, such as computer games, or interesting books. The fewer distractions you have, the more likely you are to finish the task quickly.
Ask for Help
Make a bet with a member of your family or a friend that you can finish a task within a certain time. In a work environment, this could be a colleague. By having someone else pushing you along to complete something, you will quickly find the motivation you need to get it done.
Now that you know how to beat procrastination, make sure that you approach it realistically. It took you a lifetime to get to your current level of procrastination, so it is not something you can cure instantly. However, by approaching task using these simple tips, you will soon find that your procrastination lessens, and your effectiveness increases. Overcome procrastination today!