14 Ways You Can Overcome Procrastination
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The deadline is looming. You know that you have a list of things you need to tackle, but you can't seem to find the mental energy. Or, perhaps you settle in to work on a project, only to find a myriad of distractions keeping you from getting anywhere.
There are a lot of solutions to procrastination, from finding the right times for your mind to engage in creative work to dividing a job into smaller tasks in order to avoid being overwhelmed by the complexity. Below, 14 members of Forbes Coaches Council share what works for them, and why.
Find Your Flow And Stay In It
Knowing how and when you work best can eliminate the problem of procrastination and lack of focus. Determine what time of day you do your best thinking or are most creative. Avoid booking meetings during those hours if possible, so that you can maximize your productivity and focus. Staying in your flow will increase performance and productivity.
Break projects down into small pieces and work on a piece from start to finish with no interruption. We are more likely to resist interruption when we are close to finishing a task. Multitasking is a myth: We don't do two things at once; we do one thing at once and our brains switch back and forth. This is mentally exhausting and diminishes our productivity.
Develop Routines And Discipline
We can all agree that workload can become unmanageable at times. To prevent procrastination and missed timelines, one must develop specific routines and discipline. Leaders must start by managing themselves and driving accountability. Next, time management plays an important role on for executing and meeting deadlines. Lastly, delegation is important: Recognize when to delegate and follow up.
Take On Slices Of A Job
You wouldn't try to eat a whole loaf of salami at once, so don’t try to take on an entire job from the start. Sometimes the best way to stop procrastinating and complete a major job is to take a small slice and complete just that piece, just as you would take a single slice of salami and eat it. When you do this, it will often give you the momentum you need to counter inertia and stop procrastinating.
Get An 'Accountability Buddy'
Often we have so many tasks and priorities that we freeze up and have difficulty focusing. Or, there are things we don't want to do — or we do want to do them, but we're afraid it won't turn out the way we want — that we find excuses instead of being productive. Weekly accountability conversations or emails with a coach or "accountability buddy" help tremendously to set clear tasks and goals.
Reflect On Stolen Time
If you consider time to be a valuable commodity, you might reflect on how much time you waste walking around the task. When you realize that just because you procrastinate doesn't mean the task will disappear, it will compel you to do the things you like the least or are most afraid of first.
Discover Why You Are Procrastinating
Find the root of what is making you procrastinate in the first place. Is it self-sabotage? Is it fear? Are you resistant to hard work? Once you create an awareness around why you are procrastinating in the first place, that knowledge makes it easier to make changes, and recognize when you’re doing it in the future and bring yourself back into focus.
Find The Fun
Find the fun in whatever it is you need to do. Remember that fun is more a state of mind than a specific activity. I once had a project I kept putting off. I reached out to my network and asked them to "double-dog dare me" to do specific things that would help me reach my goal. By asking to be dared, it became fun to see how many dares I could actually do. Before I knew it, the project was done!
Focus On Your Top Three Priorities
I begin each day by asking myself: "What are my top three priorities today?" I put those three items on my daily task list with a top-priority status. I know that I will never finish everything on my list, but I make a commitment to completing my top three tasks before giving my attention to anything else. Since implementing this practice, I get far more done and have finished many long-overdue projects.
Pair The Pomodoro Technique With Juicy Rewards
As a creative personality, I used to have a hard time pushing myself to do boring tasks. What works for me is using scheduling blocks and completing chunks of similar tasks in short bursts. The Pomodoro Technique suggests 25 minutes, but I prefer 30- and 60-minute blocks of time. Once I complete some of my key tasks for the day, I reward myself in small, meaningful-to-me ways.
Identify Your 'Big Rocks'
Identify the most important priorities in your life – both personal and professional. Stephen Covey called this the “Big Rocks” principle. If you start your day without a plan, you’ll soon get busy filling it little rocks (tasks, cat videos or whatever). Before you know it, your bucket is full, and you spent another day working on things that have little value to you.
List Distractions, Then Promise To Do Them After The Project
For all of us procrastinators, I have found the following works. Make a list of all the things that will distract you from your project. Put a date on those items and list a day you will do them after your project is complete. Once you have completed the project, reward yourself. Finally, get an "ankle biter:" someone who calls or texts you every morning to remind you of your goal.
Remember: Goals Are Not Actions
Goals are not actions. Make sure your to-do-list is not a list of goals. Move items from your to-do list to your calendar. Make appointments with yourself to get key work done. Schedule key work for your optimal work times (when you are most productive). Re-assess priorities: Do you have items on your to-do list that really don't need doing? Get an accountability partner!
Don't Assume Procrastination Is Bad
Some people thrive on procrastination. If you typically come up with your best ideas during crunch time, don't feel as though you must do it some other way. However, if you are someone who typically plans and needs time, evaluate the task at hand. Are you unmotivated? Do you have the right skills? Can you delegate it? It might be time to look for people or resources to help you complete the task.
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