If you have so many things on your to-do list that you find it difficult to start doing anything productive, you’re surely not alone. Researches have shown that over 20% of adults put off certain tasks and get overtaken by all sorts of distractions. That’s procrastination. How can you prevent it?
Signs that tell you that you’re a procrastinator
Procrastinators can’t complete their works simply because they get overwhelmed and lack focus when they work.
Why do people procrastinate?
The reasons can be different. It could be about emotions that undermine your motivation. Or it could be something connected to the ability to concentrate, as well as many other things.
How to stop procrastinating step by step
Human beings aren’t perfect at self-control. Psychologist Dr. Roy Baumeister who studies self-control has found that self-control is similar to muscles. It’s limited, and this resource can become drained. Once self-control is close to being exhausted, people choose things that are more pleasurable, especially ones with instant gratification.
At its essence, procrastination is an escape strategy. Procrastinators do something else to avoid doing what they have to do because our brains choose pleasure over pain. The typical symptoms of procrastination are lack of imagination, lack of time, and lack of organization.
1. Know your triggers
Understanding what type of procrastination you experience is the first step to fix the problem.
Here’s a flowchart that will help you understand what type of procrastinator you are:
Being perfect is everything these people want. This often leads to them being afraid of showing any flaws, which is why they fail to complete tasks and projects. Perfectionists always get caught up in a vicious cycle of edits and deletions.
Ostriches prefer staying in the planning stage, as this allows them not to work for real and thus avoid negative stuff like stress. Dreaming leads to these people getting a false sense of achievement. Unfortunately, these plans often stay dreams.
A self-saboteur believes (subconsciously, usually) that if you do nothing, nothing bad will happen. But in reality, self-saboteurs just fear making mistakes and failing. At the end of the day, they do make fewer mistakes, but they also have fewer successes.
These are the people who think that tight deadlines force them to do better. Rather than having a normal schedule to complete their work in time, they do nothing up until the deadline is near. It’s typically an unconscious thing, but daredevils assume that beginning in advance will reduce their time for pleasure. Often this leads to them sacrificing the quality of what they do because of the rushing.
Chickens don’t know how to prioritize important things. They start with the things they feel doing, instead of thinking through the plan. Prioritizing takes time, and these procrastinators feel like it’s not that necessary. They often end up doing lots of easy tasks that don’t help the progress of their projects.
2. Get rid of your triggers
Triggers depend on the type of procrastinator you are.
Perfectionists, establish your goals and make them clear
Analyze your goals and think whether it’s actually something you still want. It’s better to do it in a written form. Find new goals if you’ve outgrown the past ones.
Ostriches, make the effort to start with the difficult tasks
Your brain is most productive in the morning, so use this time to do the more difficult tasks. If you decide to do the difficult things later, you’re probably going to put them off because of the lack of motivation.
Self-saboteurs, write to-do lists every day
Writing something down increases the chances of you actually getting things done. Make a habit to create a list of daily tasks you understand you’ll attempt to avoid and do them first. It’s hard but very satisfying.
Daredevils, create timelines
Create a bigger and more thorough timeline with smaller deadlines before the main one. This will keep you on track and give you more satisfaction from doing things on time for once.
Chickens, break big tasks into smaller ones
For you, procrastination is the result of overwhelming feelings. If something seems too difficult or vague to even start, try to break down such tasks into smaller pieces. You can make daily or weekly goals out of them. Smaller steps will slowly help you achieve a bigger goal eventually.
Procrastination exists in many forms and for many reasons. You have to know yourself well to see what your triggers are. Once you get the idea about your type of procrastination, you can fight it using the specific methods we’ve talked about previously. This will surely help you regain control over procrastination and become more productive!