So, you want to know how to stop procrastinating. You’re not the only one to fall into procrastination habits that are difficult to shake off. We’re all guilty of it from time to time, even those who you may think are productivity masters.
The difference between you and those people who can get more done in a couple of hours than you can manage in a whole day is simple. They understand why they procrastinate and implement strategies to beat it before it gets the best of them.
The good news is that nothing’s stopping you from doing the same thing.
Why are you procrastinating?
It’s very difficult to stop procrastinating if you don’t understand why you do it. While we may think it arises as a result of boredom, laziness or poor time management, procrastination actually stems from negative emotions that hijack your mood. Once these emotions start-up, it’s very difficult to make yourself work.
The cause of procrastination then, is usually that you’re not in the right mood to take on a task. Because of this, you put the task off and distract yourself with other things i.e., scrolling social media, checking your emails, chatting with a friend etc. In turn, this makes you feel guilty for wasting time which makes your mood even worse than when you started.
Essentially, you end up in a loop where you’re not in the right mood, procrastinate, then feel worse and still struggle to bring yourself to start the task.
How to stop procrastinating
The key to beating procrastination is being able to take control of your mood. If you can get yourself in the right mood, you will be productive and achieve more. Here are some strategies for making this happen:
1. Work out why you aren’t in the mood to work
If you feel the urge to procrastinate, you should take notice and ask yourself why. Do you need to take a short break? Do you need to eat or drink something? These are simple solutions that can get you back on track.
In some instances, your urge to procrastinate could be more complex. It can stem from being dissatisfied with your job or having too much on your plate. Taking the time to reflect and think about why you want to procrastinate should present some solutions.
2. Remove any distractions
Before you get stuck into a task, think about whether there are any obstacles or distractions that could interrupt your flow. If you remove these before getting started, you will be better able to maintain your focus and avoid procrastination.
3. Just get started
Sometimes the hardest part of a task is getting started. You might find yourself staring at a blank word document talking yourself out of doing anything because it’s difficult. However, once you’ve got your first paragraph down, it gets easier and you’ll feel better.
4. Break down your project into more manageable chunks
Another reason that we put things off and procrastinate is because we feel intimidated by how large a project is. The best way to tackle big challenges is to break them down into smaller steps that are much easier to handle.
5. Give yourself small victories
Feeling like you have accomplished something will boost your mood and keep your productivity levels up. This is why it’s important to track your progress and celebrate your wins. Give yourself a tick when you complete something on your to-do list, and you could even reward yourself with something you enjoy like a sweet treat. If you can keep ticking tasks off, you will build momentum and boost your confidence.
6. Ensure your work environment is right
Our environment has a big impact on how productive we are and how to stop procrastinating. Loud spaces, the TV, electronics and friends can all lead us to procrastination despite our best efforts. Figure out what kind of working environment works best for you and stick with it as much as possible.
7. Set realistic goals
While ambition is great, if you set yourself unrealistic goals of what you want to achieve in your day you will be more likely to fall into a negative mood that fuels procrastination. Ensure you are realistic about your goals so that you can maintain positivity and productivity.
8. Focus on what you are going to do, instead of what you’re not
Telling yourself that you are not going to procrastinate today is a sure way to guarantee you will end up procrastinating. This is because it’s nearly impossible to avoid thinking about something that you tell yourself not to, as your mind gravitates towards whatever you’re trying to avoid. So, instead of focusing on what you don’t want to do, shift your attention to what you will do and how you’ll feel when you achieve that.
9. Let go of perfectionism
Sometimes we have a tendency to keep planning and trying to perfect our ideas instead of getting stuck into the task. For example, writers might spend weeks brainstorming their plot and character information, but they don’t get anything written. If you worry about whether your ideas are perfect or whether what you are going to produce will be good enough, then you will put yourself off getting started. It’s better to have something done that you can edit and improve on than it is to nothing.
10. Look to the end goal
While most of us don’t enjoy a trip to the dentist, we do it because we know the end result will be positive – healthy teeth and gums. It’s worth going through some discomfort to get the end result. The same can be said for a challenging task.
Instead of thinking about how much you’re dreading the task itself, look to the end goal and how great you’ll feel then. You’ll make yourself feel much worse if you keep putting it off then have to rush to meet the deadline and don’t produce your best work.
11. Don’t beat yourself up
If you do slip up and find yourself procrastinating, you don’t need to punish yourself for it. As we know, getting into a negative mood will only negatively impact your productivity further. So, forgive yourself and get back to your positive mood!
Bringing It All Together
Hopefully, you should now know how to stop procrastinating. The key is understanding that it stems from your mood and taking steps to improve that.
How do you beat procrastination? If you’ve got any other tips for how to stop procrastinating, we’d love to hear them! Leave us a comment below.