Is it laziness, or procrastination? The nice word is procrastination but it’s also very accurate if you’re someone who has a lot on their plate with only so many hours each day to get things done.
Or, you may just be one of those people who push things off until the last minute. Why work on a certain task when you can give yourself 20 minutes of downtime to browse on Facebook or watch a YouTube? Procrastination is common among American workers. In fact, at least 1 in 5 people are chronic procrastinators.
You may feel that you work best when you’re procrastinating and trying to push a deadline, but it can be a very stressful and uncertain way to live 24/7. If you’re tired of dealing with the drawback of pushing important tasks off for later, here are 10 ways to overcome procrastination when it comes to your next project.
7 Ways to Overcome Procrastination
1. Put it on the Calendar
I don’t know what it is about putting stuff on the calendar, but it just makes everything feel official – especially when you’re running a business. Putting tasks on the calendar is a great way to stay organized but it also gives you a hard deadline.
I’m the type of person who thrives on deadlines but I’ve also trained myself to work ahead. You can use your calendar to help you get ahead by pushing some of your deadlines up to avoid procrastination.
This may allow you extra time before the real deadline to check things over or prepare for the next project.
2. Knock It Out First
You know yourself better than anyone. If there’s a certain type of work task or project that you always tend to push off, be aware of that. You’ll definitely want to prioritize knocking that task out first.
Even if you’ve been avoiding the task because you feel it’s too difficult, my advice is to just get started and see what happens. Commit to dedicating 20-minutes of your focused attention and you’re bound to get into a groove with your work and possibly finish the task up in one sitting.
3. Break It Up
Sometimes we procrastinate because things seem too daunting. Whenever you’re faced with what seems like a huge task, realize that procrastinating won’t make it go away or get any simpler.
One of my favorite ways to overcome procrastination is to break up the task into smaller parts. For example, I’ve had 3,000-word articles to write before. To avoid procrastination, I might break that task up over the week or two weeks. One day I can spend 30 minutes doing a detailed outline.
Then over the next days, give myself an hour to write pieces of the content. By the end of the week, I’m almost finished and the task didn’t seem as daunting since I started early and broke the work up.
4. Minimize Distractions
Distractions will only cause you to slow down, be less productive, and procrastinate more. You may have gotten so used to distractions that you actually look for these small or large interruptions in your day.
Take the time to identify your key distractions and set yourself up for success by avoiding them. If a friend or family member is always calling or texting you during the workday, put your phone on airplane mode or silence it for a bit. Establish a morning routine that takes care of all your smaller tasks so you can focus clearly when you sit down.
Work in a quiet place and block certain distracting sites and apps (even if temporarily) to help you stay on track.
5. Promise Someone
Yes, you can promise someone you’ll complete a task at a certain time to avoid procrastination. We make promises to ourselves all the time but tend to break them.
When you promise someone else, it opens up a whole new level of accountability. Have someone follow up with you to hold you accountable for tasks that you don’t want to procrastinate on. This can be a partner, friend, or even a mastermind buddy.
6. Tackle Things in the Moment
Know that stuff is going to pop up and it can overwhelm you in the long run. If you don’t want to let things pile up, try to tackle them at the moment. Smaller tasks like making phone calls, sending email follow-ups, or running errands can all be bundled up so you can take care of them one after another.
Set a ‘power hour’ each day where you commit to tackling these short tasks so they don’t pile up and start to overwhelm you. Also, set goals and intentions for each week so you know exactly what you need to do. Having a clear plan and schedule is one of the best ways to overcome procrastination.
7. Reduce Your Workload
Are you one of those people who says yes to everything? If so, you’re probably a frequent procrastinator. When you bite off way more than you can chew, you leave yourself with very little choice but to procrastinate and push things off.
Start saying no to projects and tasks that don’t align with your vision and mission. Ask for help when you feel overwhelmed and pay attention to when your calendar is becoming too full so you can plan accordingly.
We all may procrastinate a little from time to time, but it’s important not to let it become an unhealthy habit. If you’re looking for real ways to overcome procrastination, start with this list and focus on what applies to you. It’s also best to determine the root cause of your procrastination and what you can do to solve this issue to truly break free in the future.
Choncé Maddox is a professional writer who recently left her job in the web design industry to produce killer content and manage her own writing business full time. She is passionate about helping entrepreneurs be more productive and create a life they love by doing fulfilling work. On the side, she runs a podcast and blogs about getting out of debt at MyDebtEpiphany.com.