There are so many distractions in our daily lives. Multi-tasking is now a necessity. The stimuli overload we are bombarded with as we go about our everyday lives makes prioritizing more and more difficult. When you add our various responsibilities to this intense barrage of White Noise vying for our attention, it’s no wonder we tend to procrastinate when we have a pending project. Between family obligations, social commitments, personal errands, career tasks, and trying to stay healthy and fit, I can easily feel overwhelmed, leading to the temptation to put off the projects that seem most menacing. To cope, I have adapted tactics to battle the urge to postpone until tomorrow what I should have started yesterday.
4 Simple Ways to Fight Procrastination:
1. Break up a project into smaller parts.
It’s easy to find ourselves intimidated by a complex project that involves a heavy time investment. The trick is to avoid looking at the project as one massive task that needs to be tackled in one sitting.
Here’s an example of how you could break down a presentation into smaller, more easily digestible, pieces:
- Research: get on the net and start diving into the topic, jotting data, bookmarking relevant sites and reading published papers and articles.
- Outline: Begin to include questions that arose during your reading, reach out to resources you encountered in your search. Jot down your own ideas as you begin to mull over the who, where, what, and why of the topic you are investigating.
- PowerPoint: Now it’s time to bring in the software and technology to create visual aids to illuminate the story you are telling and the questions you are posing.
- Practice: Give the Presentation to a co-worker, friend, spouse, kids, the dog, or in the mirror.
2. Make a deal with yourself to put in an hour of work to “earn” a break.
We all have our guilty pleasures that make us happy. It’s tempting to say, “I just want to play one game of Call of Duty and then I’ll start” or “I’m going to get to work right after this episode of Game of Thrones”. You can use your guilty pleasures to motivate you out of procrastination mode. Sit at your workspace and make a deal with yourself. You must first work for an entire hour and then you get that macadamia nut brownie, or you can go to that event your friend offered you a free ticket to, or you can watch an hour of your favorite shows on Hulu.com. The point is, you are turning that which distracts you into your motivation for digging into your work.
3. Set an incremental goal.
Smaller goals seem less daunting. Replace your overbearing To Do List with a series of smaller, easier steps. A small goal may be to not get up from your desk (so make sure you have a glass of water handy before you sit down!) until you have the first paragraph of your speech written or have sent all the emails you need to send. Then once that is done, you will already be in motion, and motion begets motion. You will begin feeling energized by a sense of accomplishment and realize that the work at hand is not as bad as the thought of starting the work. It is easier to keep going than it is to fight the inertia and get started.
4. Schedule parts of your project with other people.
It will not always be possible, but when you can, schedule the parts of your project that require collaboration with others ahead of time. This will keep you on track. It may be easy to rationalize our procrastination to ourselves, but we definitely don’t enjoy looking like a flake to other people. If the idea of cleaning out your closet drowns you in anxiety, than arrange a pick up from a local charity. When you know that your local non-profit is stopping by tomorrow at noon, you will be forced to dive into your closet and begin the process of going through your clothing to separate what you wear from the items you want to donate.
Procrastination is a formidable adversary. But you can defeat him! The four tactics mentioned in this article are powerful weapons.
What strategies do you use to slay the dragon of Procrastination?