Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing a task that needs to be accomplished by a certain deadline, usually by focusing on less urgent or easier tasks. Most times we are aware of it and that awareness makes us feel guilty. And when tasks that we delayed start piling up, the feeling of being overwhelmed follows shortly.
But procrastination isn’t a unique character flaw or an inability to manage time, but a way of coping with negative emotions induced by certain tasks, like anxiety, insecurity, or frustration.
In short procrastination is a bad habit that makes you feel frustrated and overwhelmed, but like most habits there are ways to overcome it. Here are some tips to help you do just that.
Recognize that you’re procrastinating
Sometimes there may be good reasons to delay a task. But if you are putting things off indefinitely, if you fill your time with less important tasks, if you are waiting for “the right mood” to start a challenging task or if you often find yourself doing things at the last minute, then you’re probably procrastinating.
The sooner you recognize your habit, the sooner you can find a solution to stop it.
Make an objective calendar and stick to it
There are many reasons for procrastination: finding the task too boring, poor organizational or decision-making skills, avoiding a task because you’re feeling unable to do it perfectly.
Whatever your reason for procrastination, one of the first steps in eliminating it is to look objectively to the tasks you have to do in the next period of time. Then create a calendar according to the deadlines of every task, making sure to put a value on every task. That will help you prioritize easily.
A clear and objective calendar can help you stop being overwhelmed, by breaking projects into more manageable steps.
Using a task and time management app like Timeback can be a great help: you access customizable calendars that allow you to set up schedules for each part of the project and a daily overview of every step until completion.
Use a daily to-do list
When you think about all the tasks of a complex project, some more difficult than others, it’s easy to lose focus and start procrastinating.
A good strategy to avoid that is to have a daily to-do list and to focus just on those tasks. At the end of the day, you will feel satisfied with the tasks you have fulfilled, rather than overwhelmed by all the tasks that still require attention.
Start every day with the tasks you’d like to delay
As procrastination is a habit, it takes a new habit to eliminate it. Rather than avoiding or postponing a task, try tackling it head-on and get it out of the way from the beginning.
You may find it difficult at first, but if you make a habit out of that, soon there will be no task difficult or boring enough, to make you procrastinate.
Work and break
When taking on a difficult task, try to establish a fixed period of time in which to put away all distractions - like emails, social media, or the internet - and concentrating solely on the task at hand, followed by a short period of rest.
By balancing focused work with relaxation, you will be able to manage tasks more effectively and eliminate procrastination.
Once you’ve recognized your habit and the fact that eliminating procrastination will without a doubt improve your life and make you more productive, you need the right tools and the determination to overcome it.
And remember that when it comes to procrastination, simply getting started is the biggest and most important step to take.