Everybody procrastinates sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with dragging your feet a little on days when you’re just not feeling it. However, when procrastination becomes a habit, that’s when it also becomes a problem. When you’re stuck in a cycle of procrastination, breaking out feels impossible. You’ll find yourself distracted by anything and everything – your phone, emails, social media, a bird outside your window. You know you should be working, but for some reason, you just can’t. It’s tempting to just chalk procrastination up to laziness, but the truth is, procrastination generally comes from sources like anxiety, perfectionism, or self-doubt. By targeting these sources, you can fight procrastination at the root and break out of the cycle. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Steps in Stopping Procrastination
Break Tasks Down
Oftentimes, we procrastinate on big tasks because they feel overwhelming. It’s tough to find the motivation to start something that seems like a long, difficult ordeal. Luckily, this is one of the easiest procrastination sources to handle. The trick is to break everything down. Instead of looking at the mountain of work you have to climb, just focus on the first few steps. Think of it as a series of smaller tasks instead of one big one. Visualize the outcome of each step instead of thinking about the big picture. Not so intimidating now, is it? Breaking down projects is one of the best anti-procrastination techniques out there, so make it the first thing you try when you find yourself struggling to start something.
While procrastination is often caused by some other emotion, sometimes it’s just plain distraction. We live in an increasingly distraction-filled world, with a million different things competing for our attention all the time. Sometimes it can be difficult to unplug and focus on something, especially when that thing isn’t especially interesting. So, instead of trying to ignore your distractions, just cut them off completely. The first step should be muting or turning off your phone. While modern smartphones are amazing for so many things, they’re also essentially handheld distraction machines. Next time you need to focus on a project, just turn it off. Your friends will be alright without you for a couple of hours.
Identify Your Motivation
If you’re struggling to find the energy to accomplish something, the problem might be your motivation. Sometimes the best way to get started on a task is to take a moment and think about why you’re doing it. What are you getting out of completing this project? Is it a cleaner house? Working out to lose weight? Or is it the most compelling motivation of all – a paycheck? Either way, keep that motivation at the forefront of your mind. If you’re struggling to find any motivation, don’t hesitate to give yourself one. Promising yourself a small reward is a great way to get yourself started on a difficult task. Reward yourself with a lunch break, a few minutes of recreational time, or a snack on the way home from work.
Conquer Your Doubts
Another common source of procrastination is plain old self-doubt. Sometimes it’s hard to start a project if you’re feeling insecure about your ability to complete it. This can stem from anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem. Ultimately, the best way to fight through this kind of procrastination is to look inward and try to banish those doubts. Try to go in with a more positive and confident attitude. It might sound a little glib, but changing your mindset even a little bit can go a long way towards helping you overcome doubt. Fighting anxiety and low self-esteem is a process all of its own, but every little bit of positivity counts. Remember that you’re more than capable of doing whatever you set your mind to, buckle down, and prove yourself right.
Get Some Help
It can be tough to swallow your pride and ask for help, but getting support from other people is the best way to conquer any problem, including procrastination. This can be as simple as having a co-worker remind you to start something, or as bold as going to a conference or seeing some motivational speakers. There are plenty of people out there who have made a whole career out of helping procrastinators like you, so don’t be afraid to give them a shot. Try asking your boss if you can visit a conference or go see a speaker. Not only will it be a great opportunity for you to improve your habits, but you might just impress your boss with your willingness to go the extra mile and improve your work. Hey, you might even be able to get your workplace to pay for the trip.
It might sound a little backward, but another common source of procrastination is caring about your work too much. The perfect is the enemy of the good, as they say, and worrying too much about the perfection of your work is a great way to never actually finish it—or even start it. This is a mental block, and the only way to get past it is to permit yourself to be human. There is no such thing as the perfect project, and that’s okay! There will always be flaws in your work you could have fixed or things you should have done differently. Ultimately, it’s better to have good work consistently finished on time than it is to have great work that always comes in late. Just relax, do your best, and then get to work on the next thing.
Procrastination can be an extremely frustrating problem, and it’s easy to let yourself slide into despair over it. However, it’s important to understand that the root causes of procrastination are completely under your control. Whether you’re using the techniques in this article or figuring things out for yourself, the important thing is to not let it make you feel helpless. The key to fighting procrastination is within your reach, all you have to do is make it happen.
About the Author
Lynda Arbon is a passionate and enthusiastic health blogger. She likes keeping herself updated on health trends and blogs. Her favorite pastime is learning history and solving crossword puzzles. Follow her on Twitter.