Are you one of those people, who often struggle with motivation, getting things done on time and avoiding working on projects until the very last minute? If so, this article is just the thing you need to overcome the perpetual and maddening procrastination. Wikipedia gives us a rather eloquent definition of procrastination:
“Procrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time, sometimes to the “last minute” before a deadline.”
People procrastinate for all sorts of reasons, the most common ones being difficulties focusing, attention deficit, depression, lack of motivation, feeling indifferent, struggling with anxiety, perfectionism or low energy. There are various causes to the symptoms described above but let’s focus on the more immediate task: How do you overcome this?
Well, we have a saying in Bulgarian that sums up my message to you today, “Hurry up, slowly!” Here are the four easy steps to successfully overcome procrastination:
- Step #1: Know yourself – Do you procrastinate because someone else told you to do something (like your boss, teacher, partner, whoever) and you really don’t want to do it or are you afraid of even starting because it is not going to turn out as good as you want it to? Knowing yourself and understanding the main reasons for procrastinating is the first and most important step in overcoming it. Talking to a professional about this may help you understand what your reasons are.
- Step #2: Isolate yourself from distractions – its is so easy to turn on the TV and immerse yourself in a favorite program or simply browse social media, watch youtube videos or read news online, that before you know it, time has slipped in between your fingers. Limit the distractions and put your mind at ease.
- Step #3: Forget about being perfect, just start – Having a mediocre project finished is better than having no project at all. Sometimes, you can easily get yourself wrapped up in the small details, perfecting each little thing, over-thinking it in your head, and all of a sudden, you are sitting in front of the computer with a blank screen and the cursive flashing in front of you, nothing’s coming out. Or you wait and wait and wait until you have one day left before your deadline, frantically trying to gather up all your thoughts and anxiously popping your knuckles or chewing on your nails in a sense of urgent desperation. So, forget about being perfect and just get started. That’s the problem though, isn’t it. How do you get started? Well, this leads us to:
- Step #4: Get organized – it may sound counterintuitive to set yourself deadlines considering that the deadline is what you are struggling to follow in the first place but deadlines play a huge part in getting you to actually do the work:
- divide and conquer – Sometimes, having a big project to work on feels overwhelming and you may catch yourself thinking about how much work you have in front of you, stressing yourself out about the amount of research or prep work you have to do, leaving yourself in a state of anxiety overload that ultimately leads to freezing you from all action whatsoever. Instead, break your project into smaller, more manageable tasks and tackle them one at a time.
- create a schedule and mini-deadlines for each small task and work on them one step at a time. Do not even think about the next step before you have completed the first one. Stack each task in a linear or hierarchal fashion, depending on your project and work on baby steps. Give yourself plenty of time and factor in a little wiggle room before the BIG deadline just in case you end up procrastinating, which you and I both know you will do (no judgement :-).
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Do you have questions? Found this article helpful? I would love to hear from you.
Do you procrastinate? What typically makes you procrastinate? Share your story in the comment section below.