How To Overcome Procrastination – 10 Easy Steps

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Procrastination is something even the most well-organized and punctual experience at some point or another. While procrastination is a common problem, it can have a detrimental impact on your productivity and your life. So how to overcome procrastination? Let's find out.

How To Overcome Procrastination

Some of the most effective ways to overcome procrastination include developing a schedule and improving your time management skills. Procrastination is the habit of delaying an important task, usually by focusing on less urgent, more enjoyable, and easier activities instead. It is different from laziness, which is the unwillingness to act.

Procrastination can restrict your potential and undermine your career. It can also disrupt teamwork, reduce morale, and even lead to depression and job loss. Here are some of the top tips for overcoming procrastination that you can implement in your life and increase your productivity.

Becoming Aware

Primarily, the solution for procrastination is to understand the reasons why you procrastinate, and the function procrastination serves in your life. You can't come up with an effective solution if you don't really understand the root of the problem. As with most problems, awareness and self-knowledge are the keys to figuring out how to stop procrastination. It is simply to understand the question “why do I procrastinate?”

Deal with Your Fear

Another factor that contributes to procrastination is fear. This can include a fear of making mistakes, a fear of failure, or even a fear of success. That is what causes procrastination. When it comes to the “ways of overcoming procrastination”, an essential factor is challenging your faulty beliefs. If you are afraid of success because you believe you don't deserve it, you have to realize this self-handicapping might be keeping you from achieving your goals.

For a lot of people acquiring this insight about how procrastination protects them from feeling like they are not able enough, and keeping it in mind when they are tempted to fall into familiar, unproductive, procrastinating habits goes a long way to solving the problem. For more on overcoming your fear, check out our e-book “10 Fears That Entrepreneurs Face and How To Overcome Them.”

Managing Time Efficiently

To combat procrastination, time management techniques and tools are indispensable, but they are not enough by themselves. And, not all methods of managing time are equally helpful to solve procrastination. There are some time management techniques that are well suited to overcoming procrastination and others that can make it worse.

Those that reduce anxiety and fear and emphasize the satisfaction and rewards of completing tasks work best. Those that are inflexible, emphasize the magnitude of tasks, and increase anxiety can actually increase procrastination and are thus counter-productive.

How To Overcome Procrastination – Create To-Do Lists

Create a list of the things you want to accomplish and make sure you put a deadline next to each task. Estimate how long it will take you to complete the task and then double the number. This will keep you from falling into the trap of underestimating how long each project will take. That would also help in dealing with procrastination.

If you’re the kind of procrastinator who can’t seem to complete your to-do list because there are simply too many items, you might want to figure out what you can eliminate. For those time-consuming tasks that are necessary but don’t bring you a lot of returns, you might want to see if there are solutions and systems in place that will do it for you. There are also a lot of websites that help you with printable to-do lists.

Using a daily to-do list can be demoralizing. This is because what tends to happen is that you write a long to-do list, and when you inevitably don’t complete all of them, you carry it over to the next day, and your list gets longer and longer.

Break Down Projects Into More Manageable Segments

When you are faced with a substantial project, you might feel intimidated and daunted when you look at the amount of work involved to complete it, which can lead to your procrastination. To beat procrastination, you can break down the individual items into a series of smaller steps. Once you've completed this list and detailed the process you need to take to accomplish the task, you can start working on the individual steps in the process.

There are instances when the answer is to take a break and come back to it. But when you have deadlines to meet and that’s not an option, you can try moving to another part of those tasks. A procrastination tip is, when you find yourself getting bored with one part of the task, give yourself an excuse to move on to another part.

Recognize the Onset of Procrastination

As you begin to tackle the items on your to-do list, pay attention to when thoughts of procrastination start to appear. If you find yourself thinking that you don't want to do this right now, then you need to recognize this as a sign of impending procrastination. Rather than giving in to the urge, force yourself to spend a few minutes working on the task. That may be a reason why you’re thinking, “why do I procrastinate so much?”

You should be able to realize when you are having difficulty coping with change and transitions. When a project ends, you feel anxious and aimless. You take your time before diving into a new project. A few days pass, maybe a week or even longer. This void creates a performance gap that prevents departments and companies from running at optimal efficiency.

And you focus on nonessential office work instead of what needs to get done. You’re fooling yourselves when you putter around the office, engaging in trivial work when you ought to be tackling the high-priority project. True, it doesn't feel like you’re procrastinating, because you’re getting stuff done, just not the right stuff. That is not an ideal way on how to improve from procrastination.

Or when you're lost without a road map, when you begin a new project, initially you feel overwhelmed by its enormity. You're not sure where to begin. You can't see the trees from the forest. Better to put it off, right? But avoiding unpleasant tasks doesn't make them disappear.

Motivation and Staying Motivated

To overcome procrastination it's critical that you stay motivated for productive reasons. It means reasons for learning and achieving that lead to positive, productive, satisfying feelings and actions. These reasons are in contrast to engaging in a task out of fear of failing, or not making your parents angry, or not looking stupid, or doing better than other people to “show off.”

While these are all reasons, often very powerful ones, for doing something, they are not productive since they evoke dysfunctional, often negative feelings and actions. For example, if you are concerned with not looking dumb you may not ask questions, poke around into new areas, try new methods, or take the risks necessary to learn new things and reach new heights. A good way to put positive motives in motion is to set and focus on your goals.

Write Down Your Goals

Identify and write down your own personal reasons for doing a task and monitor your progress toward your goals using a goal-setting chart. Remember to focus on your reasons and your goals. Other people's goals for you are not goals at all, but obligations.

Another key to getting over procrastination is to stay actively engaged in your tasks. If you are passive in your tasks you're probably not getting into it, and that weakens your motivation. What's more, if you are passive you are probably not making as much sense out of your tasks as you could.

Nonsense and confusion are not engaging; in fact, they are boring and frustrating. We don't often want to do things that are boring or frustrating. Prevent that by aiming to really understand the things you are doing or the goals you have set and not just get through it, that is one of the strategies for overcoming procrastination.

RELATED: Super Tips to Beat Procrastination

Reward Yourself

Once you've completed a task, it is important to reward yourself for your efforts. Give yourself the opportunity to do something that you find fun and enjoyable after you've completed a task on your to-do list.

You should practice internal self-praise, catch yourself doing something right and then give yourself some internal self-praise in silence. Acknowledge that you did something right. Don’t just push it aside as if it’s nothing. Really take the time to acknowledge and maybe even celebrate your good behavior a little.

Reward Substitutions

To use reward substitution, many healthy and positive behaviors only reap rewards far in the future, making them unappealing for our immediate gratification-seeking brains. That’s why we need to substitute those long-term rewards with immediate rewards. When you do something successfully, reward yourself with a delicious meal or allow yourself to watch some TV.

Ultimately, the pleasant emotions generated by self-praise and other rewards creep back into the effort itself. By combining effort and rewards you can learn to associate tasks or work in general with something desirable. Find ways to reward yourself and you’ll slowly, slowly build the habit of not procrastinating and actually putting in the effort and getting stuff done. That is a good way to make sure you don’t procrastinate.

Tips for Overcoming Procrastination

It isn’t easy to beat procrastination and break that habit. While you might not be able to avoid procrastination completely, you can take steps to decrease your procrastination tendencies and improve your productivity dramatically.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Williams is a partner at Side Hustle Startup, a company that helps entrepreneurs create and build their own side hustles. Matt has created brands for himself in the past and loves to help others do the same. He's married to Amy, who he met while attending college in Illinois. They have one dog named Leonard.
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Matt Williams is a partner at Side Hustle Startup, a company that helps entrepreneurs create and build their own side hustles. Matt has created brands for himself in the past and loves to help others do the same. He's married to Amy, who he met while attending college in Illinois. They have one dog named Leonard.
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