We’re all guilty of a little procrastination from time to time. The reasons for procrastination are numerous; from simple distractions all the way to an overwhelming fear of failure. Procrastination can even become a bad habit over time, so it’s best to find ways to keep yourself motivated. Whether you’re a student or a professional, these tips will help you beat procrastination.
Depending on your circumstances and your own personal tolerances, distractions could take a variety of forms. Some common distractions might be smart phones and other similar devices, or talkative coworkers. Whether you’re studying for an exam or approaching a deadline with an important project, distractions can contribute to procrastination, which will lead to trouble down the line.
Once you’ve identified any potential distractions, devise ways the avoid them. Silence or turn off your phone and leave it in your desk, or if you work from home, leave it in another room. To deal with a talkative coworker, politely explain that you’re busy and that you’ll catch up with them on your break. Eliminating distractions is the first major step to ending a pattern of procrastination.
Set Smaller Goals
When there’s a deadline for a major project or assignment looming over your head, it can be easy to say “I’ll get to it soon” or “Let me check out some cute kitten videos first.” Yes friends, major tasks can sometimes feel overwhelming, which can cause even the best of us to procrastinate.
Try to see a large task as a series of smaller, related tasks. This way, you’ll always be making small accomplishments as you work towards completing the larger task at hand. Let’s say you need to create fifty product descriptions within a week’s time. Here, you could break the project up into groups of ten. Aim to get ten done per day and if there’s time left over, get started on the next batch early. Completing smaller tasks will keep you motivated and will make working on a major project feel much less daunting.
Manage Your Tasks
With those smaller goals in mind, take some time and put together a list of each task you need to accomplish. There are plenty of project management platforms online to choose from, such as Wrike, Trello, or Asana, just to name a few. Depending on your needs, you could try free project management platforms, or you could opt for a paid subscription. If you’re feeling particularly industrious, you could also develop your own project management system.
Once you figure out what works best for you, start keeping track of all your tasks. The key here is to include deadlines for each task. Having established time frames for everything you do will make it harder for you to procrastinate, since you’ll always have a deadline to meet. Platforms like Trello let you see your progress visually, which can be fun all on its own, so you can even make a game out of it.
Prioritize the Most Challenging Tasks
Another great way to avoid procrastination is to take on the most difficult tasks first. Throughout your day, there’s bound to be a period of time where you feel the most energetic and productive. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, or later on in the afternoon, make the effort to identify when you’re most productive, and plan to tackle challenging tasks when you’re at your best.
With the difficult tasks out of the way, you can then move onto simple tasks such as answering emails or organizing your workspace. A clean and organized work area can also contribute to efficiency and productivity, so stay on top of it. When we’re mindful about how we spend our time, we’re far less likely to zone out or become idle.
If you find yourself procrastinating often, you could try developing a reward system to help keep you motivated. The rewards could be anything, from your favorite snack to a night out with friends. You could even create a tier system—the more difficult the task, the bigger the reward will be. A reward system can also be used to motivate an entire team of people, whether it’s for a class assignment or a major project at work.
Perhaps most importantly, be consistent when using any of these tactics. When we’re consistent in our methods and the way we work, along with how we break out our time, there is little room for wasted time or procrastination. As with most things, balance is the name of the game, so remember to give yourself plenty of time to rest and relax once you’ve completed your tasks for the day.
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