12 Ways To Fight The Procrastination Monster

“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” – William James

Procrastination monsterEver had a big essay due but somehow found yourself obsessively cleaning the house? Do you find yourself looking up people you used to know on Facebook when there is work to do?

Procrastination, annoyingly, is a part of human nature. It’s in our DNA and everyone has to battle with it sometimes. Unfortunately there is no lasting quick fix.

Overcoming procrastination is about managing yourself, not your time. You can’t change the amount of hours there are in the day but you can change how you use them.

I’ve found that a lot of the time I procrastinate about doing things, it’s because I think they are going to be a big hassle. But then when I finally get around to doing them they are far easier than I had expected. It’s a constant battle.

Here are some ideas to help you keep the procrastination monster in check…well at least some of the time :)

1. Work out how you’re spending your time now – If you aren’t sure how you’re spending your time then it can help to keep a record of it for a day or two. Just keep a note pad next to you as you go through the day and make a note of the things you do and how long you do them for. You might be surprised at how much time you spend surfing the web, or chatting to colleagues and so on.

If you do mostly computer based work then there is even software you can install on your computer to monitor this for you and so you can see at the end of the day exactly how much time you’ve spent on eBay, Facebook etc. It can be a real eyeopener!

2. Write a to do list and prioritise it – Then do the tasks in the order of priority. Try not to let yourself get caught up in low priority tasks just because they are easier or more enjoyable (this is where you have to be disciplined).

3. Do one thing at a time and don’t stop until it’s finished – Multitasking is a myth. Your brain can only concentrate on one thing at a time. If you’re multitasking then your brain is just switching back and forth between different things really fast. Why not just do one thing, then move on to the next and save your neurons all that extra travelling time?

4. Plan – Timetable your day/week/year so that you allot time to different tasks eg. 9-9.30 plan, 9.30-10 work on report, 10-10.30 check emails and so on.

5. Set goals – If you don’t know where you’re going then it’s hard to know what you should be doing to get there. Setting yourself goals can give you direction and focus. You can then figure out which tasks are helping you achieve those goals and which are not.

6. Eliminate distractions – Everyone has weaknesses for certain things. I find myself on reddit more often than I should be. Figure out what your distractions or weaknesses are and make a plan to eliminate them. One way of avoiding being distracted by something like Facebook is to schedule time to visit the site. That way you aren’t cutting off something you enjoy, but finding a way to enjoy it in a less distracting way.

Take the phone off the hook or put your mobile on silent. It can also help to change your email settings so that you aren’t alerted to every single email. You can then just check your email at predetermined times. Or even disconnect your computer from the internet completely for an hour or two so that you are completely free.

7. Do the thing you least want to do first – If there are things that you always procrastinate on then do them first. That way they aren’t hanging over your head for the rest of the day, week, month, year. And when you’re getting tired at the end of the day you have the really easy fun things to finish the day with.

8. Check your habits at the door – Hands up who checks their emails 20 times a day? Do you really need to? Would it be that different to just check them 10 times a day or even twice? Constantly checking emails is a real distraction and it is a firmly grained habit in many people.

Habits can be helpful or destructive so try to cultivate good habits that encourage productivity and eliminate those habits that contribute to your procrastination.

9. Enlist help – Get your colleagues, family, friends on board. Tell them you’re going to have something done by a certain day – and then deliver it. Having that public pressure to do something can make a big difference.

10. Play to your strengths – Are you a morning person? Then get your most difficult work out of the way in the morning when you’re fresh and clear headed. Don’t wait until after lunch when you’re feeling sleepy.

11. Break from routine – Sometimes it can help to do things a different way. Take your laptop out to the library, or move into a different room. Do things on paper that you’d normally doing on an Excel spreadsheet. Doing things differently can help you make a break from bad habits.

12. Review – Look at what you’ve achieved during the day. Have you accomplished what you set out to? If not, why not? What can you do tomorrow to make sure that those things do get done? Keep reviewing your actions on a regular basis to stop yourself from slipping back into the trap.

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