Procrastination: It’s the word many of us dread the most. When you’ve got a pile of work building up and a to-do list as long as your arm, the last thing you need is a distracted mind. Procrastination can stop you in your tracks and whether you need to finish household chores or that big project, getting stuck in an unproductive loop can become increasingly stressful.
You can’t always know when the procrastination bug is going to hit but there are things you can do to break free of that infuriating rut.
The To-Do List
First, you need to take a look at that to-do list. People often try to force productivity on themselves by creating a mammoth list of tasks. Whilst having a structured to-do list is important for productivity, giving yourself too much to do can have the opposite effect.
Instead of cramming your list full of tasks, pick 5 things that you consider to be the most important or urgent and start working your way through those. You might also want to consider a cull on your to-do list, getting rid of the things you are unlikely to ever do.
It’s important to be honest with yourself and to know your limits when creating a to-do list because taking on too much can make it too easy to procrastinate.
The Timing Tricks
When procrastination strikes, some people like to try time techniques to jump start their work. Whilst they aren’t for everyone, timing techniques can be incredibly useful for some people, especially if they have trouble concentrating for prolonged periods of time.
Five-minute trick – This involves asking yourself what you can do in 5 minutes that will move a to-do item forward even the tiniest amount. Once you’ve found something small, set a timer and get to work. The idea is that once you start something, it is so much easier to finish it.
This is loosely linked with the Zeigarnik Effect, which states that unfinished tasks get stuck and eat away at our conscience much more than completed tasks. Even completing a small task is still a step in the right direction, so just go for it.
Pomodoro – The Pomodoro technique gets you to work in 25-minute sections with a 5-minute break in between. Whilst this sounds like a lot of breaks and not much time spent working, many people actually find they get more work done this way.
This likely has something to do with the way the human brain reacts to being rewarded. If someone knows they have a 5-minute break coming up shortly, they are much less likely to lose focus during those 25 minutes.
The Tidy Up
The idea behind this is pretty simple, if you tidy up your space, you’ll tidy up your mind. The attention span of the average person is getting shorter each year and this is mostly down to the way we use technology. It’s all too easy to procrastinate when you have so many things around you that help you to do this.
Wherever you are working, you should make the effort to keep your workspace tidy and free from clutter. Whether it’s your mobile phone, a pile of unfinished paperwork or a magazine, make a conscious decision to move these things out of your line of sight so you can get on with the task at hand.
A Final Thought
Ultimately, beating procrastination requires discipline and dedication. Whether you want to try a technique or start chipping away at your to-do list, you have to be genuinely willing to commit to it. It’s near impossible to beat procrastination every day but if you find yourself struggling again and again, then it might be time to ask yourself why.
By being honest with yourself, you can begin to overcome the issues that stand in your way and that in itself is a step towards productivity and away from procrastination.