Do you remember having weeks (or months!) to write a book report in school, only to wait until the night before to actually write it? Then you, my friend, at some point in your life have been a procrastinator. Whether you are a habitual procrastinator or just find it happening every once in a while, it’s important to understand what causes us to procrastinate and to have some techniques in our back pocket to implement when it rears its ugly head.
Let’s start with a definition of procrastination: Procrastination is the act of unnecessarily postponing or delaying decisions or actions. There are a lot of reasons why people procrastinate, including:
- Fear of Failure
- Lack of motivation
The point is that procrastination isn’t always about self-control or will-power. There are other forces at work in our lives that can predispose us to be procrastinators. Does that mean that we are doomed to put off everything (including our success) forever?
Luckily, there is hope for all of us. Here are several tips and tricks to stop procrastinating and get those projects done:
- Break it down. One of the biggest reasons why we procrastinate is that we get overwhelmed with the task. It seems so big that we don’t quite know where to start. The idea here is to break the project/problem down into smaller, manageable pieces. Before you know it, you’ll have completed all the work!
- Give yourself a deadline and stick to it. This works well with personal goals. We tend to make vague statements like “I want to lose weight” or “I want to get fit”, but never actually do it because the goal is somewhere, out in the future. Put some structure to what you need to accomplish by setting specific dates and milestones and then working towards those goals. As an added incentive, think of some sort of reward for reaching your goal on time (and a consequence if you don’t make it).
- Find an accountability partner. Let’s face it. It is easier to accomplish something if you have someone always checking in on you. Whether it is a mentor or a colleague, find someone who will help motivate you and keep you on task – and not listen to your excuses!
- Tell others. The power of the spoken word is not to be underestimated. Let others know what your goals are and all the specifics. It not only makes your goals and projects more “real” for you, it also allows them to act as additional accountability partners, motivating you to finish well.
- Implement the 10-minute rule. Part of procrastination is the lack of motivation. The thing is, that once you get started and see progress, it gets easier to reach your goal. That’s what the 10-minute rule is meant to do: start your day with 3-5 tasks that will only take 10 minutes each to do. Once you finish, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and be ready to start conquering those bigger tasks with gusto.
Procrastination is a real obstacle to you achieving everything you want out of life. By recognizing it and starting to implement some of the ideas mentioned above, you will be well on your way to success in all you do.
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