Everyone knows what it’s like to procrastinate on something – when you just can’t bring yourself to start or finish a task. According to Psychology Today, about 20% of adults procrastinate regularly. Although some chronic procrastinators claim they work best under tight deadlines, studies show that procrastination rarely pays off.
Why do we procrastinate?
Why is it that pushing that project or task to tomorrow comes so naturally? Psychologists believe it has less to do with laziness and more to do with a negative mindset around that certain task. If something seems unpleasant – whether it seems boring, tedious or anxiety-inducing – people tend to avoid it. Instead of waiting until tomorrow, changing your attitude towards the task today may be all you need to do.
Changing your outlook on what you need to do isn’t as always as easy as it sounds. In fact, the longer you feel that negative emotion, the more you’ll procrastinate. Try a few of these helpful tips to look at your task as something manageable and positive.
- Break the task down into manageable steps you can complete each day.
- Focus on how good it will feel when this project isn’t looming over you.
- Reward yourself – if you complete the planned part of the project today, tomorrow you’ll treat yourself to your favorite dessert or dinner with friends.
Create a to-do list
Creating a to-do list may seem simple, but it could have a huge positive impact and help you avoid procrastinating. A to-do list makes tasks feel more manageable, plus it feels good to cross each item off as you complete it. It will also allow you to prioritize what projects are most important and which ones can be pushed to a different day. That way, you get things done, but also don’t overwhelm yourself with the idea that you have too much to do.
Set up a system to hold yourself accountable
Don’t make excuses about why you can’t get something done or why you should keep putting it off. Instead, set aside time to check in with yourself at the beginning and end of each day. Did you get what you needed to get done finished? If not, think about what you can do differently the next day and adjust your schedule. By holding yourself accountable, you’re more likely to complete your project and feel better about doing it.
Use a timer
Instead of thinking of all the reasons why you should wait, spend that time just getting started. Set a timer for 25 minutes and give it your all. When the timer goes off, take a break.
Once you get started, it’s much easier to keep going. You may even wonder why you put it off for so long to begin with.
Everyone procrastinates sometimes, but don’t let it become your normal way of life. You can beat procrastination and get into the new habit of getting things done before the deadline arrives – and with time to spare.