5 Ways to Beat Procrastination and Get More Done

Deadlines are looming on the horizon yet you’ve spent the best part of the day fiddling about with unmeaningful tasks: checking email, catching up on your friend’s facebook page or binge watching the latest Netflix series. Sound familiar?

Procrastination is a common ailment; an ugly fiend that can strike even normally productive people without warning. Defined, it is the act of carrying out less meaningful or less urgent tasks in favour of more important or urgent ones. Put simply, it’s getting straight to the good stuff without first doing what needs to be done. It’s choosing instant gratification against long-term payoff and it’s ruining your potential.

We all pull a sickie from time to time and it’s probably fair to say that some people work better under pressure. For the majority, though, procrastination has some pretty serious drawbacks: stress, anxiety, disorganisation and not doing a job to the best of your ability among them. It’s time to get serious, beat procrastination and get more (of the important stuff) done. Here are five ways to do just that.

Take Baby Steps
Big, complex tasks can be utterly terrifying. Infact, some projects can seem so overwhelming that it should come as little surprise that you would want to put it off. The key to beating procrastination in this case is to break down your work in smaller steps. Let’s say you have a lengthy report to write. You’re putting it off because there’s simply so much work involved in getting it finished. Commit to writing a single section of the report each day and, suddenly, it becomes infinitely more doable.

Create a Detailed Plan
Having a single deadline for a task is like giving yourself an invitation to put everything off until a later date. Build on the advice to break a project down into smaller more manageable tasks by creating a detailed plan listing when each individual step should be completed by in order to succeed further on down the line. By doing so, you remove the illusion that you have all the time in the world to finish your project and will know on a day by day basis whether you are on track to complete your work on time.

Assess Your Environment
Your environment can have a huge impact on your productivity and motivation. Freelancers and those who work from home, especially, often have the freedom to choose where they work. Experiment with different options until you find a setting that makes you feel like you’re raring to go. If you’re employed, your choices of where you work are limited but you can still get the better of procrastination by ensuring that your workspace is clean, tidy and organised.

Give in to Temptation
The concept of temptation bundling - the act of combining important tasks with a treat - came from research carried out by Katy Milkman at The University of Pennsylvania. You might try only catching up on the gossip in lowbrow magazines while on an exercise bike, only watching the latest episode of your favourite show while ironing or only dining at your favourite lunch spot when planning out your next month’s work. Find out more about temptation bundling in this article by James Clear.

Have a Good ‘Why’
It’s always easier to find the motivation to do a task if you find personal value in it. Caroline Webb writing in the Harvard Business Review points to research by Fuschia Sirois, a psychology professor at Canada’s Bishop’s University, suggesting that you take the time to think more deeply about exactly why a particular task should be completed. Finding meaning in a task and tying its outcome to a personal goal should mean that it makes it off your languishing to-do list.

Procrastination can be a bit of a pain when it rears its ugly head but these tips should help you show your delaying tactics the door. Now get back to work!

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