Procrastination is a pesky habit that delays you from starting an unpleasant task you’ve been avoiding. Task aversion is human nature – we tend to put off and ignore those responsibilities that invoke some level of anxiety and stress. Ultimately, however, we know that it needs to get finished.
I've found that to overcome procrastination, you must first recognize that it’s happening. Once you’ve come to terms with the situation, it’s important to realize why you’re procrastinating. And, while it’s simple enough to admit you’re procrastinating, taking the necessary steps to overcome it and complete the task at hand can be a little more difficult. Below are some helpful tips you can use to kick procrastination to the curb so you can finally get that project done.
Self-Motivation and Action
We tend to put things off because there's a little voice in our head that reassures us that there's always time later. Flip this thought by becoming your own cheerleader! Just like coaches motivate their team before a game, you can push yourself to start and finish the project too. Self-motivation can also come after you start your task. In the words of Dr. Tim Pychyl, professor of psychology and member of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in Ottawa, “Motivation follows action. Get started, and you'll find your motivation follows.”
Write it Down
After you've motivated yourself into starting your task – write it down. It can be as detailed as a to-do list or as simple as writing it on a post-it. Stick it somewhere in plain sight, like on your computer or even on the fridge. It'll be harder to ignore when it's located somewhere that catches your eye.
Set a Deadline
Deadlines can seem daunting, but they can be a great way to push you to start a task, limit your excuses, and keep you accountable. A simple way to set them is by using a calendar application with alert reminders. Elect for using an app that allows you to set timed notifications that remind you a day, an hour, and even five minutes before the start time of your project. Use those alert reminders to start mentally preparing yourself for the task.
Before starting your task, set yourself up for success by limiting the distractions around you. Put all social media away, and turn off your phone if possible. The same goes for television. Grab something to drink so you’ll avoid making excuses to visit the kitchen later.
Don't just start your project; commit to finishing it, too. Undoubtedly, there will be things that'll pull you away from the task at hand, like an urgent phone call or a random thought. If you must turn away to handle an unexpected issue, remember to immediately return to the task at hand and get it completed.
Promise yourself a reward after you finally complete your task. Once you're finished with your project, do something pleasurable. Rewarding yourself will give you a boost of happiness for a job well done and provide you with a sense of accomplishment!