BY BRITTANY M. ORIE LEAK
“I have plenty of time until the task is due.” “Hmm, I’ll do it later.” “But there are other things I ‘need’ to do first.” “Such a big assignment gives me anxiety, so I need to relax by doing other pleasurable things.” “I just don’t want to do it now!” Says the procrastinator in all of us.
Procrastination—for many of us—is the easiest habit to sink into when we have a big, intimidating project or assignment to tackle. We tend to back down from the impending task and, instead, “momentarily” check into our social media accounts, calm our nerves by watching “just one” Netflix video, call a friend, or even find household tasks to occupy ourselves such as reorganizing a bookshelf or cleaning the kitchen. These are all escape routes we habitually take when we don’t want to get started on that scary assignment just yet.
We all procrastinate to a certain extent – it’s only human nature. But here are some ways to diminish the urge to procrastinate and make productivity a habit!
- Create a distraction-free environment. Today’s world is inundated with distractions. Our phones and computers are constantly buzzing with emails, our spouse and children demand our help or attention, and we are bombarded with news updates. All these surrounding stimuli prompt us to procrastinate when we try to focus. To keep from procrastinating, create a work environment that inspires productivity and laser focus. Where do you feel like you concentrate best? At the library? A quiet room in your home? Outside? Whatever venue helps you focus, pursue that environment—even if you must recreate it (in case it may be shut down). Helpful tip: the workplace you choose should only be used for work and nothing else. That way, you begin to associate it with working and not playing or relaxing. Avoid working in your bedroom, or a booming atmosphere like Starbucks.
- Resist pleasures. While many of us are working from home, we see the procrastination gremlin lurking behind each corner.iPhones, YouTube, Instagram, movies, music, and, yes, food! So many pleasures surround us, tempting us to “come out and play,” but we have much to get done! Engaging in pleasurable fulfillment will thwart us from doing our work, resulting in procrastination. Set your mind to work until a certain time, or when you get to a certain place. If you can, rid your atmosphere of anything pleasurable or gratifying and think of how gratifying it would be if you completed whatever you set yourself to accomplish that day! Remember, work comes before play. That principle will give you many successful years and feelings of accomplishment and achievement.
- Remember, you will be rewarded for your work. Whatever you have to tackle, imagine how much you will be rewarded when you complete it. No matter what it is. It could be work-related, or it could be anything from developing a workout routine to calling an old-time friend. Procrastination is never rewarded but always reprimanded. Completing that task or assignment may bless you with promotions, opportunities (depending on what you’re working on), a sense of confidence and accomplishment, and even something as simple as more time to yourself! Focus on the rewards and not how daunting the task seems.
- “Act now!” Procrastinators notoriously put things off until later. We push those tasks back further and further until, eventually, we either don’t get to complete them, or we’re straining the very last minute at crunch time. It is important to take advantage of the present moment and get that assignment out the way! It’s better to do it now than worry and fuss about it later, right?
- Don’t do it all at once. If you have a mega assignment that you know will take more than one day to handle, break it up into smaller, simpler nuggets. Completing these and checking them off your “to-do” list will give you more confidence to take on the whole assignment and, before you know it, you will be done! This trick is very effective for chronic procrastinators.
Procrastinating is easy, but the repercussions for doing so are difficult. Try to genuinely enjoy the task you’re working on and find reasons to be grateful for your work. After all, nobody will fulfill the task like you can!