We all do it occasionally. We do not “feel like it.” We are not confident in the results we can produce. Even the most focused, dedicated, and productive people procrastinate sometimes. You may find yourself looking through social media or repeatedly checking emails instead of getting started on a project. Or you might decide to check the news or Zoom a co-worker rather than make that call. Once you get off track, it often can be difficult to re-focus.
To beat procrastination before it takes hold try taking control of your mood. When you are in the right frame of mind with the right strategies, you can get things done and avoid going down that procrastination rabbit hole we all occasionally find.
When you recognize the things that can distract you, things like the ping of incoming e-mails or kids running into your office, you can plan to stay on track. You may consider looking up necessary emailed information before starting on your task or you could let your family know that you are working from a certain time until a certain time.
Even when you love what you do, sometimes it seems there is just not enough coffee to get started. Once you get going, you will recognize that your mood improves dramatically. This helps you keep on task.
Break down your project
Feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated is a leading cause of procrastination. Therefore, finding smaller pieces of the task that you can quickly and easily accomplish is so important. Those smaller tasks will add up, creating a sense of accomplishment and making the larger project not feel so intimidating.
Work in the right place
Another way to overcome procrastination is to make sure you are working in the best environment for you. You know better than anyone else, the distractions that will draw you away from the task at hand. If you know you are distracted by the TV or you will feel tempted to stop and catch up on housework, commit to working in an area where you will not get so distracted.
Celebrate the small things
Did you check off an item on your to-do list? Acknowledge the accomplishment. Small victories build joy and a sense of accomplishment, helping create a sense of reward and motivation. By enjoying small victories, you build your confidence and momentum.
If you set unrealistic goals for your day, you will become discouraged and more apt to procrastinate. It is smarter to get real about what you can accomplish in each time period. And equally important is to recognize what cannot be accomplished in a day.
Focus on the action you want
Do not tell yourself, “I will not procrastinate. I will get this done today,” try focusing on what you will do and how great you feel once you do it. This provides your mind with an opportunity to fixate on the action you want to take instead of the behavior you want to avoid.
Forget about perfectionism
Many people freeze up when it is time to get started because they are waiting for the perfect inspiration or they know their ideas are not quite right. Unless you get started, you will never produce anything great. Avoid aiming for perfection and just get started on your project. The outcome will be better than expected.
Focus on results
You may feel nervous before beginning a major task. You may feel like you are not prepared or able. Yet consider how amazing you will feel when you complete the task and see the results.
Procrastination may bring momentary relief, but in the long run, procrastination can severely limit your potential and effectiveness. Fortunately, you can overcome procrastination. It helps to first understand why you are procrastinating. Then, you can think about how to apply the above strategies to get back on task. Procrastination happens, but you can prevent it from becoming the norm in your life.