Procrastination has many causes. Thankfully, it also has many remedies.
Sometimes we procrastinate as a way to cope with the fact that we are overwhelmed and overworked. Sometimes, it’s to avoid particularly difficult or stressful tasks. Other times, it’s simply because we want to do something enjoyable now and deal with the less enjoyable later. Regardless of why we do it, procrastination is the greatest enemy of productivity and often keeps us from living the life we truly want.
The good news is there are many ways to overcome procrastination. Here are a few to get you started!
1. Set Attainable Goals
According to Hara Estroff Marano of Psychology Today, many procrastinators overestimate the time they have left to complete a task and underestimate how long it will take them to do so. When you outline your tasks for the day, compensate for this and be realistic about what you can do. Setting unrealistic goals produces more stress and frustration which leads to more procrastination. It leaves us feeling like we were busy all day without actually having accomplished anything. True productivity requires that we assess the time we have, judge how it will best be used, and utilize every moment to the fullest. Don’t be caught up in a whirlwind of unproductive busy-ness! Be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot do.
Make a list of what needs to be done today and what can be done later. Then, take the today list and tackle the difficult tasks first! This allows you to focus your best energy on the more challenging projects. When they’re done, you’re able to move on through your day without the dread of having to do them later.
3. Work With The Clock
There are many tips out there to help optimize your productivity during working hours. One of the best is the Pomodoro Technique. This technique includes 25 minutes of uninterrupted work. You don’t check emails, text messages, social media, or even get up to use the restroom. For these 25 minutes, you focus only on the task at hand. When your 25 minutes are up, you take a 5 minute break in which you can get a drink, stretch, and check your phone. When your 5 minute break is up, you begin another 25 minutes of focused work. This technique eliminates distractions and allows you to supercharge your productivity. Twenty-five minutes of focused work can accomplish more than several hours of distracted, interrupted labor. There are many apps to help you, including Pomodoro One for Mac users and Pomodroido for Android users. If the Pomodoro Technique isn’t right for you, try one of these other great tips for optimizing productivity! Experiment with different tactics until you find the one that works for you!
4. Protect Your Time
Time is a precious commodity. Once it’s gone, we never get it back! If there is something you want to do, put it on your schedule. Schedule time for the gym, time to write your book, apply for grad school, or sit at the park with your kids. Having these items scheduled will help you say “No” when other things come up and threaten to clutter your day.
Creating habits that promote productivity is important, not only because it allows us to succeed in the workplace, but also because it allows us to pursue the dreams we’ve been neglecting. If we procrastinate the big, uncomfortable changes required to live our dreams, we sacrifice ourselves to a life that is less than the one we should be living.
Mastering productivity and gaining freedom from procrastination allows us to better enjoy every part of our lives and not feel like a slave to our work.