We’ve all done it, even though we know we shouldn’t. We tell ourselves “I’ll watch one more episode” or “I’ll just quickly check Facebook” before we start an important task. We keep finding excuses, put things off until the last minute, and ultimately sabotage our productivity.
Procrastination is one of the most common reasons people don’t accomplish as much as they would like. If you’re guilty of a procrastination habit, there are things you can do to break the cycle and improve your productivity.
What’s the source of your procrastination? First, identify the problem. There are many reasons that you might be inclined to put off particular tasks. It could be that you don’t enjoy your work, you have anxiety about communicating with a specific person, or that you feel overwhelmed by a big project.
Understanding the reason for your procrastination can help you to get a handle on it. For example, if you have a big project that’s paralyzing you it can help to break it up into smaller pieces. When you can attack a little at a time, you won’t feel the need to put it off and you can build momentum.
Develop Accountability. If you tend to put off tasks, it can help to have an accountability partner. This can be a co-worker or a friend that you report to at the end of each day. You can share your to-do list at the beginning of the day and report back at the end of the day. Just knowing you’ll be talking to someone later can help you stay motivated to get a lot done.
Complete the Least Desirable Tasks First. This one is difficult to do, but so worth it. Don’t save the tasks you dread for last. Instead, get them out of the way first. This frees you from having to think about them anymore and gets them off your to-do list. For example, if you have to deal with an unhappy client or work on a mundane project, it’s better to just get it over with. Once you’ve completed the task, you can move on to work you enjoy more.
Get Rid of Distractions. If you’re already having trouble with procrastination, distractions like social media, email, and your cell phone can give you too many easy excuses to avoid work. Turn off your phone, close your email window and block social media so that you can get things done without distraction. Choose designated times to check your email, social and your phone so you can stay focused on your tasks without being interrupted.
Pat Yourself on the Back. When you complete something that you’re tempted to put off, make sure to give yourself a pat on the back. Give yourself a few minutes to take a break and relax. Then get back to work with a refreshed attitude and sense of accomplishment.
Mapping out your day in a planner can help you stay on track. When you reserve blocks of time on your schedule to complete tasks, you’re less likely to procrastinate. It’s one of the reasons the Weekly Schedule component of my Unlock Your Potential Planner is broken up hour by hour. Give it a try and watch your productivity soar!