Career Woman

Get things done: 25 tips to beat procrastination

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Procrastination can kill your progress and kill your achievements.    For many reasons we procrastinate. But procrastination can be the biggest undermining factor on your path to success. Even the desire and drive to succeed can be nibbled away by leaving things undone… which then starts to weigh on your mind and distract you. But are there are some simple strategies to overcome procrastination:

  • The first step is admission. Just like any other situation, recognise that there is a problem.  In this case, be honest with yourself and recognise that you’re procrastinating.  Are you doing low-priority tasks?  Are you waiting for the right mood to tackle an important task?  These are some questions you should ask yourself.
  • Ask yourself “why”?  Once you recognise the problem, ask yourself why you’re putting off these tasks.  Most unfinished tasks are either unpleasant, or boring, which is why you keep putting them off.  You may also feel overwhelmed so you keep putting off big tasks, and you keep working on tasks which you’re comfortable in.  There is often a fear present, whether that is fear of failure, or being unsure how to do the task.  Perhaps it’s as simple as you don’t know what to do or what the next step is.
  • Be organised. If you’re disorganized, try creating a to-do list, or mark important/urgent tasks so that you’ll know that you should work on those first.  Focus on one task at a time and set a time-bound goal.
  • Create an action plan if you’re overwhelmed. Creating an action plan like breaking up a big task into smaller, more manageable tasks may help.  Often we can tackle a string of small single tasks far easier than one awful big burden.
  • Build habits that stick to you. Find an approach that will help you break the old habits, then build new, healthy ones that will stick with you long term and won’t overwhelm you.
  • Reward yourself. After a big task, make it a point to reward yourself for a job well done.
  • Get enough ZZZs. Maybe another reason why you’re putting things off is because you’re simply tired.  Make sure that you get enough sleep and proper rest.  Add to this eating well, and perhaps taking vitamins if needed; a healthy and happy body makes our brains work far better.
  • Take your break. You may be inclined to work during lunch time because you have a deadline, but break time is there so that you can recharge your body and mind.
  • Work when at your peak.   Often people have their productive times of the day (personally I’m a morning person) and know this is when I’m most productive, so I tend to knock out the hard tasks first.
  • Eat the Frog is a concept by time guru Brian Tracy. Google this concept.   I call it “eating your toads”.   The concept is essentially that you do the ‘yucky’ and distasteful things first.   Get the tasks off your plate which you won’t enjoy or dislike so that the rest of your day is pleasurable without the feeling of dread looming.
  • Eliminate distractions. For example, if there’s a tiny voice in your head telling you to check who commented on your Facebook status, resist the urge.  Keep your phone away from your workstation, or turn it off.  Turn off email reminders and only check emails in batches.
  • Schedule your time in small increments. If you plan on writing a book within a month, write a few chapters a week instead of writing everything in one go.
  • Try the 2-minute rule. If the task takes only two minutes, do it now.  For example, if you need to respond to someone’s email and it would only take two minutes, just do it right now instead of putting it off.  This will prevent tasks from getting piled up.  Use this same principle if you have to research something on the internet; limit it to 20 minutes and actually set a timer; it’s amazing how quickly time passes.
  • Fix your workplace. You’re spending a lot of time at your desk so make it an enjoyable place to work in.
  • Ask help from someone close to you. Adopt a buddy system; announce your goals to your colleague or friend.  If they know about your goals, they will ask you about it at some point, which will serve as a reminder.
  • Replace the feeling of dread with the feeling of satisfaction. When you start on a difficult task, you will be inspired to continue working on it once you see your progress, and get past the feeling of dread.
  • Use a calendar. Almost all of us have smartphones with a calendar app.  Try mapping out your deadlines on one calendar so you can manage your time well.
  • Give yourself a second chance. If you feel that your morning was wasted, try again in the afternoon.  You may have wasted your morning but you’ll have the afternoon to make up for it.
  • Hang out with people who inspire you. There will always be someone at work who doesn’t procrastinate.  Try hanging out with him or her so that you will adopt their habits too.  Reading and listening to inspirational and motivational material helps too – especially audios which are great for managing time as well.
  • Think outside the box. When your current plan is failing, then think about a new one.  There are other ways of doing things.  Even ask around and see if someone has a better way … although a warning here, too much stopping and starting and switching systems/processes will in fact work against you.
  • Use project management tools. There are a lot of project management tools that will help you get things done, such as Trello, Google Keep, Evernote, or Asana.
  • Stop focusing too much on perfection. To get started, avoid focusing too much on perfecting the project.  Just get started on it, see your progress, then review it and make changes if necessary.
  • Be prepared for obstacles. This is where the procrastination starts.  Try to list possible roadblocks and plan countermeasures until you’re done with your work.
  • What is stopping you?   Procrastination can be about bad habits, or simply not knowing how to do something, or feeling overwhelmed.   It can also be about having a deeper set fear and even self-sabotage.  You may need to investigate more deep seated solutions, such as hypnotherapy, EFT or Tapping.   There are a few different options so if you need a connection to a specialist in this area, please just ask me.
  • Just get to work. No matter how many articles you read about how to overcome procrastination, it still boils down to the matter of decision.  Just decide to take a step, and get to work.

Need more targeted help? I can help you with more business coaching tips, just contact me on +61 411 622 666

About Donna Stone

Donna Stone is a business coach with three decades of experience. She grew her own business from a garage to be a multi-award winning operation that spanned five locations nationally. Donna works with business owners and other business coaches, consultants and trainers to help them build their own success. Her Coach the Coach ™ program has proved exceedingly popular. Donna is a prolific writer with hundreds of articles written and six books published. Visit www.donna-stone.com.au

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