Here’s a familiar scene: You get in a slump and you can’t get work done so you resort to wasting your time doing something else. In other words, you’re procrastinating. You’re not alone in this frustrating journey. There are so many people out there afflicted with the same time-wasting ailment and are looking for ways to stop the cycle. The good news is that there are ways to remedy your procrastinating tendencies. The bad news (depending on how you’re going to take it) is that you have to put in the leg work and that means working. So how do you stop procrastinating? Here are a few simple steps to help you out.
Just get the ball rolling
In short, move. You have to start something in order to “get in the zone.” If you’re really having trouble focusing, set a timer for 15 minutes and discipline yourself to focus solely on your work within that time. Hopefully, you’ll find that it’s easier to stay focused even after the timer has elapsed. We’re afraid there’s no other way around this, folks. After all, the most straightforward way to fight procrastination is to actually get work done. Think of it as exercising. It’s a pain and a chore at first but as you establish a routine and stick to it, it gets easier over time.
Make a written to-do list
This might seem like trite advice but there’s a reason it has worked for many. A written to-do list gives you the satisfaction of physically crossing off tasks you’ve already done. Don’t underestimate that feeling of accomplishment no matter how small it is. At the end of the day when you see you’ve crossed a bunch of tasks, you’ll be encouraged to do more the next day.
Change your environment
If you’ve been trying your hardest but you’re still procrastinating like there are no deadlines to meet, maybe it’s time you changed things around you. Literally. Move your desk to a brighter part of the room, rearrange your surroundings, or remove all the clutter and distractions. And speaking of distractions, stow away all the gadgets you don’t need for the job — your tablet, phone, and maybe an extra laptop. We bet our left leg these gadgets are your ultimate procrastination tools. If you want to get better, you have to help yourself.
Know when to take breaks
Yes, taking breaks is a healthy habit. Don’t believe those workaholics who will tell you that you should spend every waking moment working. We know what you’re thinking: Isn’t taking a break counterintuitive to nipping procrastination in the bud? Not if you do it properly.
Ever heard of the Pomodoro technique? It’s a time management technique that has helped a lot of folks grappling with the inability to stay focused at work. It breaks the work into intervals (usually 25 minutes) with short breaks in between. So let’s say you work for 25 minutes straight and give yourself a 10-minute break. Then the cycle repeats. You can adjust the length of the intervals depending on what you’re more comfortable with. The point is, you can’t just work for hours straight, you have to give your brain breaks too.
Take things one task at a time
How to stop procrastinating? Go slow. Procrastinators procrastinate because they feel like the task is too heavy for them. Break your large tasks into smaller actionable ones, this way the workload won’t be too overwhelming. For example, if you have to finish a 3,000-word article for the day, start by creating subtasks. Create an outline for the article. Write one point of the outline per hour. In no time, you’ll soon finish what your need to.
Give yourself a reward
Remember back in elementary when you’d do anything to get that coveted star-shaped stamp on the back of your wrist? As an adult, you’ll have to do that for yourself. Yes, we’re saying you should bribe yourself into finishing your work because frankly, you deserve it. You deserve to watch that Netflix episode after you send your deliverables. You deserve to play that game after working on that project for the whole day. Knowing there’s something desirable waiting for you at the end of the task will boost your willpower to finish it.
Manage your energy levels
Ever wonder why sometimes you seem to have all the time in the world to finish your tasks but doing them feels like pushing a boulder up a hill? You’ll beat yourself up for taking an entire day to do one thing. But you have to consider that maybe you’re in a slump because you’re tired and you lack energy. In order to complete tasks efficiently, you have to be healthy mentally and physically. Sleep early, try exercising in the morning, eat on time, and take a walk every time you feel like you’ve been at your desk for so long. That’s how you stop procrastinating.
Learn to forgive yourself
So you didn’t get to accomplish much today, that’s okay. Growing means learning to deal with the fact that you get bad days too. But don’t dwell on it and beat yourself up. That’s just going to make you lose more time. Instead, use it as motivation to do better so the next time you’re tempted to procrastinate, you know what to do.
Good luck out there!