Originally posted on LinkedIn.
Procrastination gets the better of everyone at least once in awhile and once it has a hold of you, it can be difficult to overcome. Even the seemingly most productive people have struggled with putting off a project or series of tasks, but the important difference is that those who are extremely productive are also proactive in their efforts to get their work done so that the situation never reaches critical mass.
Only about 20% of us are tried and true chronic procrastinators, who consciously look for distractions to keep their mind off of the task at hand. Chronic procrastinators have a tendency to push aside the tasks that need to be completed until the absolute last minute, which forces them to immediately take action to get something done on time. This cyclical pattern of chronic procrastination is a difficult habit to break but is not impossible. Those on the opposite end, the productive leaders, struggle with postponing tasks but are able to recognize their behavior and take steps to not push the deadline of a project. The important thing to remember is that there are effective ways to actively counteract the behavior of procrastinating and keep yourself from succumbing to the anxiety of waiting until the last minute.
Change your way of thinking
All of us procrastinate at some time or another, so if you struggle with procrastination, know you’re not alone. Try not to think of it as a character flaw or something that is inherently wrong with you because it does happen to the best of us. Additionally, being harsh and feeling guilty about your previous times of procrastination will likely do you no good moving forward. It’s best to think positively and feel empowered, knowing you can and will take steps to correct your behavior.
Find out why you’re putting something off
The majority of people that procrastinate don’t do it because they’re lazy or because they want to feel the rush of adrenaline that comes with working on a project last minute, they just aren’t in the frame of mind to complete a task when they’ve set aside time to do so. When you are scheduled to do something but don’t want to, think about why. Are you unhappy with your job or feeling overwhelmed? When’s the last time you took a break from your desk? Is there something pressing in your personal life you need to deal with?
Whatever the case may be, figure out why exactly you don’t want to work on something and take a few minutes to think about why you’re trying to keep yourself from doing it. This mindful approach can actually be the most effective because you’re forcing yourself to look at your behavior and think about what is holding you back.
Break it down
Large projects can often be overwhelming. If you have a huge undertaking, try to break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Instead of telling yourself it will take several hours to complete the project, figure out quick tasks you can complete in 20 or 30 minutes. Try not to take too much time to figure out how to divvy up your time because that can actually make you prolong your time getting started. Complete the small, manageable tasks and it will probably give you a boost of confidence in your ability to get the job done and a boost of energy that will revitalize your efforts.
Don’t get discouraged
Just because you are now taking active steps to stop procrastination in its tracks, doesn’t mean you’ll never push aside any projects again. Don’t expect perfection. Like any other behavior or habit, procrastination takes time and conscious effort to overcome.