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Procrastination really is a thief of time. And if not kept in check, it can become a life long habit where you can even put off chasing your dreams. Then one day, you wake up and wonder where all the time has gone. Why you never did the things you wanted to. Please don’t let this be you. Today I’m sharing my tips on how to stop procrastinating and get things done.
Remember that project given to you one week ago?
You decided to neglect it till a day before the deadline because you couldn’t stop going through social media, watching movies or telling yourself you would do it later.
Now you are frantic, under pressure and overworking yourself.
Most, if not everyone, has gone through this phase or something similar at one point or the other. Therefore, you can be assured that you are not alone, there is actually a bright light at the end of the tunnel.
Procrastinating vs laziness
Procrastination is a trap that holds you back from making progress. It hinders you from achieving what you should accomplish when you should complete it.
It is likened to a thief, and when you don’t stop it as soon as possible, it continues to steal the time you should be using to do something valuable and spend it on doing irrelevant things. Sometimes procrastination is usually confused with laziness, although they seem similar, they are not the same thing.
When you procrastinate, you choose to do something else that you find more pleasurable rather than doing the important things you should get done.
But being lazy means that you are inactive and you don’t want to do anything at all (sound familiar?).
How to stop procrastinating
When you stop procrastinating, you save yourself a whole lot of stress. You don’t have to be under any form of pressure which would have been as a result of you choosing not to do your work at the right time.
You won’t be stressed, feeling guilty, depressed, anxious or in a worst-case scenario, be at the risk of losing your job because procrastination didn’t let you do your job.
The good news is that just like any other habit, it is possible to stop procrastination. In this article, we will be looking at some practical tips on how to stop procrastinating and get things done.
1. Accept that you are procrastinating
The first step to solving any problem is to identify the problem and accept that it is a problem. Therefore, to stop procrastinating, you need to accept the fact that you are procrastinating.
To identify if you are procrastinating or not, check out the points below:
- Constantly filling your day with low-priority tasks and ignoring the major tasks you have to do.
- Waiting to be in the “right mood” or waiting for the “right time” before you can get a task done.
- Always taking long breaks in between tasks.
- Checking your phone over and over again while doing a task, etc.
The points listed above are just some indicators that you are procrastinating.
Once you identify that you do any of them, then you need to work on figuring out the actions to take to stop procrastinating.
2. Figure out why you are procrastinating
There are a lot of reasons why people procrastinate, and for you to stop procrastinating, you need to figure out why you are procrastinating.
Some common reasons why people procrastinate include:
a) Because they find the task boring:
If you find a task boring, there is a high tendency that you wouldn’t want to do it. And if the task is essential then you have no choice but to find a way to get it done instead of procrastinating.
The best thing to do in this case is to find an exciting way to complete the task so that you wouldn’t quickly feel bored and lose interest.
For example, if you are a lover of music and you know that listening to it wouldn’t distract you from doing your work, you can put on a song you love and listen to it while completing the task at hand.
b) Fear of failure:
The fear that you are not competent enough to carry out the job at hand and that you may fail at it, would make you want to keep postponing doing it till further notice.
The truth is that no one is perfect, and until you try to do that task, you would never know if you are good at it or not. The best thing to do in this case is to carry out proper research on the task at hand. You could go on google to search about it, read a book on it or ask questions from those whom you know are good at it.
This will help you to know more about what is expected of you and erase the feeling of incompetence in you.
c) Poor decision making:
When a person is poor at making the right decisions on time, it leads to procrastination because they spend so much time thinking about what they should do and how to do it, that they never get anything done.
To surmount this, you need to get better at making the right decisions on time. Improve your decision making skills!
3. Understand that it is a habit
Just like smoking, procrastination is a habit that gradually becomes a part of you when you do it consistently, and at the point when you want to do away with it, it may be difficult.
This is why you need to stay away from it or work on eradicating it as soon as you can.
4. Stop making excuses
Often, people who procrastinate always come up with one excuse or the other to justify their action.
Instead of accepting the fact that they are procrastinating, they would rather blame it on something or someone but never on themselves.
They say things like;
- “I’m really tired, sad, or angry right now so I can’t do the task.”
- “I can always do it tomorrow.”
- “I don’t have enough time to work on it.”
- “I’m waiting for inspiration.”
As Benjamin Franklin said, “He who is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”
5. Set realistic goals
If you want to stop procrastinating, set realistic goals. Your goals will give you a clear cut vision of what you are to do and the reward for doing it. They will give you a reason to stick to completing the task at hand.
In setting your goal, you must be true to yourself. Imagine how you want your dream life to be and the things you need to do to achieve that dream.
Segment your goals into small actionable plans, put it on a calendar and get to work on it. I have a great guide on simple goal setting steps if you want to check it out.
6. Have a to-do list and stick to it
Having a to-do list is very important if you want to stop procrastinating because it helps you to stay focused and organized.
Create a list of all you have to do in order of priority and when you have to do them. If written on paper, it is best to put it in a place where you can always see it so it will stand as a constant reminder.
If you have it on a gadget, set a reminder for yourself so that it can remind you to carry out the task when it’s time. It’s not just enough to create a to-do list; one other important thing to do is to stick to it.
Once you have everything planned out down to the time, carry them out exactly as it is. Except there is a significant reason why you should do otherwise, you should stick to the plan.
7. Identify your distractions and stay away from them
One hundred and one things could distract you when you want to get essential things done, and these things will lead you to procrastinate, but is it your duty to stay away from them.
Your job is to identify what these things are and try your utmost best to stay away from them when you are trying to get your important tasks done.
For example, the general things that distract people and hinder them from starting or completing the important tasks at hand are social media, emails, television shows or movies.
The best thing to do in this situation is to do away with your phone or close the apps. Leave the room where the TV is and make up your mind not to go back to it until you finish doing the task at hand.
Other forms of distraction include; the environment you are in.
For instance, if you can’t work effectively in a noisy environment and you happen to find yourself in such a place, the best thing to do is to find a quiet place to get the task done. Or plug in your earphones and drown all the noise away, instead of postponing the task at hand till later.
Stay away from anything that will serve as a form of distraction when you are trying to complete the essential tasks you have at hand.
8. Break down your tasks into small bits
Sometimes, the tasks you have to complete on your to-do list may seem vast and then become overwhelming for you. It will even make you lose interest in carrying it out.
This is why you have to break your tasks down into smaller bits. For instance, if you want to write a 1,000-word short story in 2 hours, you may decide to divide the task into a smaller task like brainstorming, writing and editing.
Then you can allocate the time for each task. You can spend 40 minutes brainstorming, 40 minutes to write and then use the remaining 40 minutes for editing.
9. Focus on one task at a time:
One other thing that can lead you to be overwhelmed and lose interest in what you should be doing is when you are trying to do a lot of things at the same time.
It doesn’t work that way. You need to take it one task at a time and one step at a time to get the best result. This helps to keep you focused and to achieve your tasks quicker.
10. Take action
The key to getting anything done is to start doing it.
You may find all the tips in the whole world on how to stop procrastinating, but if you don’t act on it, there will still be no difference in your life. Until you make a move to start that task, you will never get it done.
There is a quote that says, “The best time to start was yesterday, and the next best time is now.”
Start working on that project, start writing that book, start doing that thing that is important to take you to the next level in your life. Stop postponing it till tomorrow.
You will realize that once you start taking action, things will start falling into place gradually. You may even make some mistakes in the process, but the mistakes you make will help you to learn more and grow.
11. Measure your progress
It is also important that you keep track of your progress on your journey to “stop procrastinating”.
In measuring your progress, you shouldn’t measure it by the number of hours or effort you put in, but by the level of result you were able to achieve in the end.
12. Reward yourself for your progress
After measuring the progress you have made so far, you should try to reward yourself for how far you have come, no matter how little the progress may seem. You may choose to attach a reward to completing the task from the very onset when you set out to do it; this may even prompt you to take it more seriously.
Even if you feel like you didn’t make so much progress, don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, identify what you did wrong, learn from the mistakes and work on doing better next time.
On a final note, there is a form of happiness that comes with knowing you did your work when you should, and you don’t have to pull an all-nighter just to meet a tight deadline (which you caused by yourself).
This is why you must defeat procrastination.
Take the steps that have been highlighted above and work on being a better version of yourself.
In the end, you would be surprised at how much progress you have made and how much you have achieved in a short period of time.
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