Today’s guest post is from Jamie Robinson. Jamie runs SelfThrive.com, a site that focuses on personal development through motivation, positivity, health and productivity. Jamie is passionate about supporting individuals’ self-development goals and encouraging improved productivity.
Procrastination eats away at your momentum and is what keeps you from making real progress. It may not be a problem for you right now, but be sure it will pop up one day when you least expect it.
Use this list to tackle your procrastination head-on today. Imagine how much better you’ll feel when you can do more with the time you have. After all, we all have the same amount of hours in the day.
1. Create a To-Do List with Specific Deadlines
Making a to-do list is simple. You organize everything you need to do in the immediate future in an order that makes sense to you. This will make your workload seem much more manageable. Instead of a dark forest of trouble, you’ve now have a guide to help you get through the work, pointing toward the light at the end of the tunnel.
But a to-do list filled with tasks is not enough. It’s important to add specific deadlines to your tasks. This will help you build a sense of momentum. When you know that step one needs to be finished by noon, this sense of urgency will help propel you forward. You’ll finish one task after another and learn how you work best.
2. Break Bigger Projects into Manageable Chunks
Breaking down tough jobs into easy pieces is the quickest way to make sure that they actually get done. When you’re looking at a massive project, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer size and feel defeated before you even begin.
But when you take that project and split it into small, easily accomplished steps, you’ll be able to see the pieces falling into place as you go along. You’ll feel a sense of progress while still working, and you’ll be able to gauge your productivity on the way.
If you’re still procrastinating, break some of the steps down into even smaller pieces. Before long, you’ll have the tough work completed and you’ll be able to look back at a long, filled out checklist marking our progress.
3. Set Aside Time and Space for Work
This step is all about allowing yourself to truly focus without distraction. It’s important to choose a part of your day to hunker down and truly get to work. Maybe you work best in the mornings. Maybe the afternoon is when you feel most productive. The point is to hone in on that time and to block it out. Keep it as a work-only time.
Next, carve out a little space to do purely work-related tasks. If you work in an office, your desk should suffice as long as you remove distractions. If you work from home, choose an area to reserve solely for work.
Whether it’s a specific room or just a specific desk or table, there’s a big psychological boost that comes with having a space made just for getting your work done.
4. Remove Distractions
Removing all distractions seems easy at first, but it takes some real consideration to strip out all the little ways in that make it easier for you to procrastinate.
Take note of the ways your attention wanders. Maybe you’re drawn to Facebook or Twitter. Maybe you’re prone to talking with coworkers. If you work at home, maybe there are too many tempting games, books, or even pets around you.
Single out these distractions and eliminate them from your workspace. On your computer, make sure to never open a browser with social media pages. At home, stay inside your work zone. Use headphones and soothing music to stay isolated from the world.
Whatever works best for you, keep at it.
5. Tackle the Hard Stuff First
A lot of very smart people think that you’re most productive first thing in the morning, so you’ll want to get started on your toughest project first.
Why? When you complete the biggest part of your workday first, this will give you a serious confidence boost. You’ll feel incredibly productive having the hardest job finished, and the rest of your work will feel easy in comparison.
6. Do One Thing At a Time
The cold truth is that multitasking is a myth. We humans can only truly devote our minds to one task at time. Take advantage of this limitation by sticking to a single job until it’s done, then moving on.
Every time you decide to focus on a single task and work on it until completion, you’re building up your resistance to procrastination. Because the brain is a muscle, consistent workouts will make it better at accomplishing things.
7. Reward Yourself with Breaks
On a long enough timeline, focus will be impossible to maintain. You can’t single-mindedly chip away at a project all day with the same energy and attention that you began with. Eventually, you’ll find yourself seeking distraction.
This is where breaks come in. Strategic breaks will help refresh your mind and quench that desire for distraction, allowing you to resume total focus once you return to work.
8. Try the 2 Minute Rule
Sometimes you’re faced with a task that you just really don’t want to do. But once you’ve broken it into smaller chunks, consider whether you can get the first piece done in two minutes or less.
This is a great psychological trick. No matter how tough work might be, the idea of facing it head on for only two minutes can relieve a ton of pressure.
When you think about doing this dreaded task for only 120 seconds, it doesn’t seem so bad. Grit your teeth and push through! You’ll be surprised how relieved you feel after this tiny little slice of time.
9. Let Go of Perfectionism
Perfectionism is what keeps us from moving forward with work and life in general. We have a hard time letting things go when they aren’t exactly as we pictured them.
It’s important to be detail-minded sometimes, but unless your current workload demands absolute perfection, letting yourself focus and then quickly move on can work wonders.
Keeping momentum is more important when it comes to getting everything on your list done, so finish individual tasks, tick off those boxes, and keep going. At the end of the day, you can always go back and check out the details to see if anything was missed.
10. Make Yourself Accountable
We tend to feel more motivated when we’re held accountable to something outside ourselves, so take advantage of it. Maybe you’ve got a work friend you can regularly check in with. In this case, try to set up a system where you see how far along each other are. You can get high fives for progress or chastise each other for slacking off. The pressure to achieve will feel instantly palpable!
Following these steps will get you off and running so you can leave procrastination in the dust. All it takes is the desire to do better in your work, and the intentionality to improve your life. The results will come as you continue to move forward.
Do you have any other steps that you take to avoid procrastination? Please share them in the comments.