10 Simple Ways to Manage Procrastination
“Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.”- Christopher Parker
I have a very important project to start. It has the potential to change my life— fulfill my dreams of financial freedom—if done well. I am in freeze than hyperactive. This has perhaps to do with the perception of “higher stakes” involved in it for me, which is causing me a lot of anxiety.
As a result, instead of swinging into action I procrastinate.
My reason for putting things off: I am too overwhelmed with the enormity of the success that will follow as an outcome of all the actions.
The root of procrastination can be traced to the pleasure and pain principle which says that we do things either to gain pleasure or to avoid pain.
So what are the reasons? Let’s try to list them down:
- Lack of clarity
- Feeling overwhelmed with a situation
- Given up hope that a situation can be changed or affected
- Fear of failure
- Too busy to get the important things done
- Overworked and tired
- Want to avoid work you don’t like
The ways to overcome procrastinating is to focus on the things that matter and to shed off excess baggage in your to-do list. These excesses serve to weigh you down.
What are the ways to overcome procrastination?
- Get clarity
Procrastinators, you’ll love this! Take half an hour to do this quick goal planning exercise. Write down all your goals in some or all the categories that you care such as career, education, relationships, financial, physical, creative, spiritual, public service, travel, leisure, and other.
Once you have your list, whittle it down to your top 9-10 items, then down to your top 5, and then your top 3. Ask yourself “What are most crucial tasks that will take me nearer to my goal?”
Let your less important goals wait for the time being on a, say list 2, that you can check on again in a few months.
- Manage your To-Do List
Drop those tasks that don’t relate to your top and most important goals. This will lighten your load as the list will look small. Such is the psychology of humans.
- Link unplesant tasks to your main goal or value
For me it is of immense help if I mentally tie these tasks to one of my main goals or some value I cherish. So for example, keeping a tidy and clean and desk allows me to have clarity of mind which is something I value highly. By having clarity of mind I will be better able to work on my goals and have less anxiety.
By linking the task to the pleasure of being able to think clearly, I now have a reason that will motivate me to take action.
- Plan your day
This is not a big task. It should only take about 10-15 minutes of quiet time. Do the most difficult and most important things first and work your way down to the easier stuff in the afternoon. You’ll feel really good if you do this.
Focus on that to motivate you to wait to check email and such until after you’ve finished your first big task.
- Plan your week ahead
Make a loose schedule for some of the important tasks you know you will have to complete. Sometimes procrastination happens simply because a task is not scheduled.
- Be generous with yourself while planning
Don’t be harsh to yourself. Provide extra time to a task than you think it will take. A task always takes more time than we estimate for. It’s seems to be the way of the world!
If you plan tight, you will have an excuse to put it off. If you find you have messed up in planning, do not freak out. Just reschedule and get back on track later or tomorrow.
- Break down tasks into smaller chunks
We generally procrastinate on tasks that are vague and nebulous because we don’t see the clear path in front of us.
Take a few moments to think about how to break down a larger task and into smaller chunks and schedule accordingly. This is good for when you are feeling overwhelmed.
- Ask for help in making decisions
Decisions are tough for most of us. If you find it burdensome, try some hacks. You may like to use the pro and con method and assign points.
I also recommend getting help from a friend that you know is good with making decisions.
Once you’ve made your decision then break it down into tasks and schedule into your calendar.
- Believe that you can do what you have set out to
Believe in your abilities to accomplish things. Release the fear of failure. Sometimes things may not turn out the way you expect them to. Failure is just a learning experience. Slow and steady wins the race.
A little bit done every day adds up to a lot over a year. If you have to, just fake your belief until it becomes real.
10. Treat Yourself
Celebrate your daily successes with your near and dear ones in small ways. Do not wait for your big eureka moment or the big bang. Keep a journal of task you have successfully completed.
Success feeds on successes. You will feel good about yourself and lack of motivation will never be a big issue.
Mind the verb “manage” in the tile of post. We generally associate verbs like “beat” or “defeat” or “overcome” when dealing with procrastination. I think we can’t totally banish procrastination from our life.
There will always be far many things to do than you can actually do. Which is why, we may need to procrastinate over certain tasks. The trick lies in not to put off things that are vital to completion of most important goals.
Smaller and lesser task can always be done the next day. This is referred to as creative procrastination.
Let me know if these tips can help and also how you fight with your own urge to procrastinate.
Let the discussion begin…