We’ve all been there; you turn on your laptop ready to nail that presentation ahead of deadline, five hours later you find yourself scrolling around a black hole, nosing around the social media sites of all the kids you used to babysit or checking the Instagram feed of that girl you once met on an aeroplane ten years ago.
Procrastination is a cycle that has become even more rampant in the age of having a world of information (and funny cat videos) at your fingertips. The art of putting off work is a phenomenon that seeps into every aspect of our being; putting off that doctors appointment, holding out on the career change, making or breaking a relationship – it all falls under the category of procrastination. So how to slip out of the noose? These tips can start helping you get a handle…
Breaking down our tasks into the minutiae means we are going to less resistant when it comes to tackling them. One of the reasons we procrastinate is that old fashioned friend – overwhelm. We reduce overwhelm by taking things small enough to swallow. If you still find yourself procrastinating after breaking it down, then break it down, again and again, chisel it right back until it seems manageable. Don’t think; I have to write this essay, think I have to write this title, I have to write this intro, etc.
It’s no fun without the reward. That’s true for a lot of things in life, including hard work. A good method when you prep to do a task is to set a clock that says work for 20 minutes straight or work for 50 minutes straight. When you get to the end of that period, you can grant yourself a 10-minute break to scroll social media, walk around, play with your dog, text your friends or whatever it is you tend to do when procrastinating. Not only does having an end in sight work for keeping you on task, but the bonus of it being bite-sized and rewarding most certainly improves your chances of getting it done.
Go Someplace Else
If you struggling to commit to task in your own bedroom it may be time to get out and take your task elsewhere. You may think that going somewhere else would only encourage procrastination but it can often have the opposite effect. When you are in a coworking space or café and around others who are being productive, you are less likely to scroll yourself senseless on Facebook because you feel compelled to keep up with your peers.
Work to Your Best Schedule
If you know that you are super productive in the morning but in a fatigued funk come 2 pm, then its time to readjust your schedule so you can work to your own best personal schedule. The same if you are a night owl. Of course, we don’t always get to pick our own work schedules, but we can apply this method to our personal task force. Make those calls in the morning when you have energy, get up a little earlier and do your creative work rather than trying to do it all at night when you just want to binge-watch trash, and hell – even cook your dinner at breakfast time if you know you won’t do it this evening. We think we need to stick to someone else’s pre-determined clock, but really, it's about knowing yourself and your habits and making your world work around that.
Another reason we tend to procrastinate like hell is the fact that we are often afraid we are going to underperform or let someone down. Untangling habits of perfectionism, self-worth, and the task at hand takes time, delving deep and doing that inner work. But it's work that is worth it. Whether its therapy, journaling, or any form of contemplative effort to root out those self-limiting beliefs, this can change your whole relationship to yourself and procrastination in general.