Mar 012013

Get Procrastination Under Control

Tips for OVercoming Procrastination Image
The worst part about procrastination isn’t missing deadlines or opportunities. It’s feeling frustrated and helpless because you don’t do the things you need to in order to get the results you want.

Maybe you could get better grades if you studied more and started assignments earlier. You might want to start a business, but always find some reason why now isn’t a good time. Whatever your goals, you’re reading this because procrastination holds you back.

This article will give you information to help understand why you put things off, and provide you with practical tips you can start using today.

Start By Figuring Out Why You Procrastinate

Occasional procrastination is nothing to worry about, but when it’s a recurring problem there’s usually a deeper issue causing the unwanted behaviour. Figuring out the root of the problem is critical for creating a lasting change.

I can’t tell you what the root of your problem is, but I can help you figure it out. If you’re serious about taking action, this method will help you – it’s the same one I use when working with clients who suffer from a lack of motivation.

Whenever you notice yourself procrastinating, make a note of why. Carry a small notebook or use your smartphone to keep a log of all the times you put off doing something. Write the following sentence “I don’t want to do (blank) right now because (blank). The result of me delaying this task is (blank)” and fill in the blanks appropriately.

This might seem overly simple or redundant, but the act of verbalizing why you’re procrastinating and the effect it has on your life is very powerful. It’s easy to forget how often you put off doing things, and sometimes it can be frustrating because you feel like you’re working hard but aren’t getting anything done. A written record can shatter these illusions and provide a great source of motivation.

Use These Tips to Overcome Procrastination

While you’re trying to get to the root of the problem, use these tips to boost your productivity.

1) Create Microgoals. Break down the task into small pieces, and take them one at a time. I’m talking really small – like “Open MSWord” or “Write one sentence”. If you don’t want to keep going after you complete your microgoal, no problem. Reward yourself with a break.

2) Use Backwards Motivation. Another great advantage of microgoals is they capitalize on the way motivation actually works. You ever try to talk yourself into doing something you don’t want to do? Doesn’t work very well. Ever just start doing something, then find yourself getting into it? That’s backwards motivation, and it’s how motivation works.

3) Lower Your Standards. Perfectionists never get anything done. If you feel intimidated by your own lofty expectations, it’s time to take them down a notch. Getting something done in one hour is better than doing it perfectly in six. Remember: you are far more critical of your own work than anyone else.

4) Focus Harder, Take More Breaks. How long do you focus on a task before you check Facebook or watch cat videos? Don’t put wild amounts of pressure on yourself by making mental commitments to work on something for hours on end. Find out what combination of rest and work is optimal for you. Personally, I work 45-60 minutes at a time then take a 15 minute break.

5) Vary Your Tasks. Let’s face it – doing one thing for a long time gets boring. When you get bored and lose momentum, you lose focus, and before you know it you’ve wasted half an hour day dreaming. When you start thinking about your next vacation, take a short break or start doing something else.

6) Block Your Time. A great way to do this is with a smartphone app like Astrid Tasks. I have my time blocked in 2 hour chunks and assign a general task to each. Every day I do marketing at noon, but one day that means sitting at my computer while another it means running a seminar. Tasks get done without my days becoming a mindless routine.

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