How to stop procrastinating: tips to overcome this habit
7 valuable tips to tackle this negative habit.
With so many tasks to do during the day and at the same time, with so many distractions, who has never postponed a task or commitment and ended up regretting it later?
Several people face this issue, especially teenagers and young adults, and it can affect their lives negatively.
In the job market, this attitude is frowned upon, in addition to being counterproductive.
Not having enough time available and postponing a task is normal. But when it becomes routine, it can turn into a much bigger problem.
Lack of planning and organization of daily tasks can create anxiety crisis and even impact YOUR health.
Do you want to learn how to stop procrastinating? Read on!
The concept of procrastination
Procrastination means to postpone a task or delaying it.
Procrastinators avoid carrying out their responsibilities until the last minute of their deadlines, and this makes them feel guilty, stressed out and it affects their productivity.
This attitude occurs because we try to improve our mood, even if for a short time and not doing something that seems boring or unpleasant, and replacing it for something easy and fun may seem like a good idea.
For example, it’s faster and more enjoyable to spend an hour at your computer watching funny videos instead of preparing spreadsheets or reports.
Why is procrastination so common?
Certain doctors and psychologists assert that there is a type of chronic procrastination and that it can be a sign of a psychological or physiological disorder. But, for most people, procrastination occurs for other reasons, ones that can actually be circumvented.
Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, believed that we postpone tasks out of fear of death. To him, postponing a task would leave us with something to do in the end.
On the other hand, Richard Thaler, an economist and a researcher of decision-making psychology, states that human beings procrastinate because they believe that the work that needs to be done will never be as important as the tasks that are being done now.
Although he didn’t have a single cause, Piers Steel, a Canadian psychologist, compiled 200 studies on the subject, produced between 1920 and 2006, and found that there is a strong link between this habit and impulsivity. Thus, characteristics, such as excessive perfectionism, distractions, and anxiety must be improved in order to increase productivity.
Procrastination, anxiety and the snowball effect
Professional success is directly linked to an individual’s ability to perform quality tasks in less time. By procrastinating, individuals tend to become more anxious and anxiety causes more procrastination. This vicious circle needs to be broken in order to prevent the situation from snowballing.
You can overcome procrastinating by starting with simpler tasks, such as organizing your desk, computer files or cleaning the room.
Abandon the fear of failure and start with small actions. Then, take breaks and reward yourself for each goal achieved.
7 tips on how to stop procrastinating
Like any change of habit, overcoming procrastination should happen gradually and not suddenly. Therefore, we’ve set aside 7 tips to improve your quality of life at work!
1. Identify a pattern and create strategies
Identifying what makes your procrastinate is the first step in ending this habit.
Observe your routine, pay attention to what times of the day you are more productive, take notes and understand which types of tasks you enjoy more. Then, analyze and create strategies to conquer bad habits and replace them with good ones.
2. Meditate and manage your thoughts
Meditation is an important ally when overcoming this bad habit. All problems are born in your mind, and by controlling them, you’ll overcome part of the process. Mindfulness techniques help you understand your feelings and to focus your attention on the present.
By establishing connections with the activities, your body stops operating on autopilot and performs actions with better quality and more perception. That way, individuals develop faster and have a feeling of completion and evolution of tasks.
3. Do one task at a time
Many people believe that performing several tasks at the same time equals high productivity. However, this can also be a sign of procrastination.
By doing many things at the same time, you end up postponing finishing them and not completing any of them as well as you could. Thus, the best thing to do is to divide large tasks into smaller parts and create performance goals for each one.
For example, if you need to create an annual content schedule, start by creating delivery dates for the months, quarters or semesters. At the end of the period, you’ll have concluded the entire task without suffering throughout the entire process.
4. Don’t beat yourself up for procrastinating
Worse than missing delivery deadlines is blaming yourself for missing them. Mistakes happen and you need to overcome them in order to move on.
The more you blame and punish yourself for the mistakes, the greater the anxiety generated during the next task due to the responsibility that you put on your shoulders regarding that action.
Therefore, forgiving yourself is the best you can do in these cases. From then on, you also need to change your habits.
5. Use time-management techniques
Many procrastinators don’t know how to manage their time and end up not being productive. Thus, using time-management techniques might be important.
The Pomodoro technique consists of working during 25-minute periods, where professionals must completely focus on the task, without external interferences, such as using cellphones, talking to other people or watching TV.
After the period of 25 minutes, it is necessary to take a 5-minute break and repeat this cycle 4 times. After the entire cycle, you take a longer break for 30 minutes.
There are other techniques and apps that can help with this. The important thing is to understand that your mind needs to remain completely focused on a single activity.
6. Plan for unpredictable events
A major problem faced by procrastinators is unpredictable events. They really do happen, but they only create problems for those who aren’t organized beforehand.
Putting tasks off to the last minute is very risky, because it creates a dependency on external factors that aren’t managed entirely by you.
You might become ill, there may be a power cut, your internet might be down, a family member might need your help and your task gets postponed until later.
7. Understand the importance of what needs to be done
Understanding the importance of each task and the importance assigned to them makes us procrastinate less on everyday tasks.
The importance of sending an email on time might seem like a small thing, but when we consider that it’s part of our work and that this involves actions in the lives of other people, the work becomes more important.
We are cogs in large machines, and by developing each small task with quality, the process as a whole works better.
Overcoming this habit
After you learn how to stop procrastinating, keep in mind that you need to maintain discipline and organization, and will soon notice the difference.
Besides the tips we provided here, it is necessary to analyze other factors, such as your working environment, the interruptions you face, your fears and then try to eliminate them.
Talk to the people around you and explain that you are undergoing a change of habits.
Now that you’ve learned how to stop procrastinating, don’t let this opportunity slide, start overcoming this habit right now!