Have you ever had one of those days where it feels like you’re spending 8 hours kicking, putting yourself down, and telling yourself all the things you need to do? However, in the end, you stall things until the last minute and end up not getting anything done, even less than in an ordinary workday.
If you know the feeling, then you’re no stranger to procrastination. According to several studies, people procrastinate or delay things for various reasons: fear of failure, lack of self-confidence, or being too stressed under pressure. Conversely, procrastination is also linked to poor time management skills and the trait of laziness.
Either way, procrastinating is not a good habit to have. There are many ways you can experiment and test a new ground to stop procrastinating and finish the long list of tasks on your list. Here are Working Den’s tips on how to stop procrastinating and turn a lazy day into a productive one.
Break bigger projects into smaller milestones
Imagine this. It is nine o’clock in the evening and you are barely done with your work. Sometimes you feel that you’re about to ace it because you love working under pressure and you have somehow convinced yourself that you are a superwoman. But it is not always true.
That thrill you get when sprinting to finish a bigger work under pressure might actually be a crippling fear of disappointing others or yourself by underperforming. So as the clock ticks closer to midnight you gradually lose your energy to finish.
If you want to achieve bigger things you need to break them down into smaller tasks. Take smaller steps and take things slowly. Engage yourself in a proactive goal achievement routine wherein you start from the first level down to the last until you reach the ultimate goal.
As you move forward, you can treat smaller tasks as mini goals. When you commit mini mistakes, you can easily correct them. And with every achievement of each mini goal, the positive feedback will motivate you to finish the rest.
Create a to-do-list
While making a to-do-list might sound a cliché to you, writing down a list of things you need to get done and adding a realistic timeframe for achieving them is an effective medicine for procrastination.
The logic is simple. If you are presented with a huge project or multiple tasks you easily feel like you’re under the gun and you’re stunned. Deep inside you feel like you cannot finish it while considering the myriad of ideas going topsy-turvy in your mind.
So here’s some good advice about how to stop procrastinating and get things done. Why don’t you pick up these ideas, organize your tasks in a simple to-do-list, and add a realistic timeframe for achieving them? You can place the toughest job at the beginning so you can get the motivation you need when you achieve it.
A to-do-list actually serves as a roadmap or priority matrix that keeps you focused, motivated, and productive. It makes tasks more manageable and easier to oversee. It helps you figure out your priorities so you can start kicking goals and completing tasks one after another.
Stick some motivational quotes on your screen
There are many ways that you can motivate yourself to start working and getting things done such as exercising, watching your favorite movie, or eating your favorite food before working.
An effective method for motivation that is often overlooked is sticking some motivational quotes on your screen. If you have a cork board you can stick some notes with motivational quotes in it and pin them on your board. You can also replace your screensaver with sayings from highly successful people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Richard Branson.
A picture of your dream house, car, or next travel destination could also be fantastic screensavers. Each picture screams “Hey! Work now or you can never get here at all.” Sometimes, procrastination is a result of lack of motivation. If you’ve worked too much you also need to reinvigorate in order to get back at it.
Use the Promodoro Timer
Promodoro technique is a brilliant time management method that involves working for 45 minute and then taking a 2-minute break thereafter to indulge in some well-earned reward before taking another 45 minutes to work. After you have completed 90 minutes of work you would have to take another 30 minutes break.
To strictly follow the procedure, you should set the Promodoro timer at the bottom right hand of your screen. If you are ready to start working just press the button and your first 45-minute work sprint starts.
The Promodoro technique helps you put something off because everytime you stop it makes you cringe to work again because if not, your project is going to take forever. It also increases your concentration level and reduces the risk associated with prolonged sitting.
Implement a Reward System
The greatest motivation to fight procrastination is to have something for yourself at the end of your workday. Giving yourself treats will boost your mood and drive you forward.
When you give yourself treats, your brain produces a chemical called dopamine which is responsible for making you feel happy. As a result you become more inspired to work and get things done because it makes you feel good.
A reward should be earned and should create positive reinforcement hence it should be given after the end of the task. When rewarding yourself think of a reward that is consistent with your goals.
For example, if you aim to declutter and rearrange your house at a specific time you can probably reward yourself with your favorite burger at the end of the job because cleaning obviously makes you tired. Similarly, you can have the same reward if you are trying to finish a research paper or finish some paperwork because our body and brains need good food to function well.
On the other hand, you can’t have the same reward if you are trying to lose weight. Working hard in the gym and rewarding yourself with a plate of hot chocolate later on is a wrong motivation which can ultimately harm your fitness goals.
Take note that there are many other rewards that you can give yourself such as having lunch with your favorite coworker, spending a happy hour with your friends, or finally taking that plane for a vacation.
The logic for the reward system is based on the fact that if your behavior is followed by a pleasant outcome you are more likely to repeat the same behavior. So use a reward system that build your momentum and fuel good habits.
Challenge yourself – to stop procrastinating and get things done
In addition to fear and lack of self confidence, there is a less profound reason behind procrastination – that is sometimes you just don’t feel like doing anything. However, part of being a grown up is making things happen anyway.
So if you feel tired, demotivated, or lazy, challenge yourself to do things for at least 5 minutes. Research says that over 80% of us will keep going as long as we start something. Take the good with the bad and make peace with reality. Sooner or later you really need to get things done otherwise you may suffer serious consequences like losing a job, disappointing a friend, or failing a family member.