Personal Growth

Understanding Procrastination and How To Overcome It

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Are you tired of putting things off until the last minute? Do you find yourself constantly wondering how to overcome procrastination? It’s time to take charge and regain control over your productivity!

Procrastination can be a significant obstacle on the path to achieving our goals and realizing our full potential. Admit it, we all struggle with procrastination. It’s a common human behavior that often leaves us feeling guilty and stressed.

Why Do We Procrastinate?

how to overcome procrastination - a woman distracted by her phone

At its core, procrastination is linked to our ability to regulate our emotions and manage our time. The concept of procrastination also stems from a concept in Behavioral Economics called “time inconsistency.” 

It’s said that our brains are wired to seek immediate rewards or instant gratification. It’s why sometimes binge-watching your favorite shows sounds more enticing than working on your chores or errands.

Procrastination can also stem from our fear of not meeting our own high standards, which leads us to avoid doing things altogether. Sometimes we also worry that our efforts won’t be good enough. So why bother doing it, right?

For some people, procrastination can be a driving force for motivation. This can be true for people who identify as someone who “works best under pressure.” But sometimes this can cause you added stress and anxiety which can result in you not performing well.

Having the right mindset and strategies, you can break free from this habit and get things done!

5 Practical Tips To Overcome Procrastination

Beating procrastination isn’t easy. But if you’re ready to overcome it, good job! Recognizing your procrastination habits is the first step toward change. Being self-aware is a good habit because you can start to realize your flaws and work your way to be better.

Here are some tips on how to overcome procrastination.

Set Clear Goals and Priorities

how to overcome procrastination - set clear goals

One way to fight procrastination is to establish your goals and priorities to provide you with a clear direction. Many people tend to procrastinate because they feel overwhelmed.

Breaking down your tasks into smaller and manageable tasks can be a good way to start. Completing smaller tasks is easier and can also provide you with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Give Yourself Strict Deadlines

Once you’ve identified your goals and priorities, it’s time to set deadlines for each task!

Sometimes setting an infinite amount of time for a certain task causes procrastination because you keep telling yourself, “I still have enough time to do it.” But then you find yourself rushing to finish a task, which sounds stressful!

Using the “2-minute rule” is a good and effective way to stop procrastinating. The rule states that if you can do an action in two minutes or less, then do it. For example, wiping your desk before you start working wouldn’t take 2 minutes, so do it now! This prevents your smaller tasks from piling up, so it’s a win-win!

You can also use visual reminders to keep yourself on track. Use desk calendars, whiteboards, or sticky notes and place them somewhere you’ll regularly see.

Setting an internal deadline can also be helpful. For example, if you have an upcoming report due in a week, try to set an earlier deadline to finish your report. This also allows you to have a buffer time for any unforeseen circumstances.

Minimize or Eliminate Distractions

It can be as easy as cleaning your desk or picking a more conducive space for working. Having distractions around you can hinder your progress and add more stress. 

Social media can also be a cause of distraction, especially with the rise of short-form content like Instagram Reels or TikTok videos. I’m sure you’ve found yourself mindlessly scrolling through your phone without realizing how much time you’ve spent.

Some phones have features like “Focus Mode” or “App Limits” which allows you to silence app notifications and reduce app usage, so take advantage of them! Using noise-cancelling headphones also helps drown out the noise around you. Others prefer listening to white noise or lo-fi music to improve productivity.

Since the pandemic, a lot of professionals shifted to a remote or hybrid setup which allowed us to work anywhere, including coffee shops and other public areas. Yeah, it sounds cozy, but it can also be a cause of unwanted distraction.

Take A Break

It may sound counterproductive, but taking regular or scheduled breaks can actually increase your focus and productivity. These short breaks help you from feeling burnt out and tired from work. Once you return, you’ll find yourself more refreshed and ready to tackle your tasks!

Break times can be anything like:

  • Getting a cup of coffee
  • Reading a book
  • Browsing social media
  • Watching an episode of your favorite show
  • Stretching or taking quick walks
  • Taking a power nap

Just do anything to relax and recharge your brain! Sometimes, taking breaks also provides you with opportunities for innovative ideas or “Aha!” moments when you go back to work.

Some people use the Pomodoro Technique, where you break your work schedule into 25-minute time blocks, followed by 5-minute breaks. Using this technique can create a structured work rhythm for you. This approach can also lead your brain to think of break times as rewards for completing your tasks.

Celebrate Your Progress

They say it can take 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit, which means beating procrastination doesn’t happen overnight. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate your small wins. When you acknowledge even the smallest things, you give yourself the motivation to stay on track. It also provides you with a sense of accomplishment! 

Let’s put it into perspective. For example, you haven’t established a daily morning routine yet so there are times that you leave your bed messy just because you keep thinking, “I can always fix it anytime”. But if you try to build a habit of making your bed right after waking up, you’ll find yourself feeling rewarded. And it’s a small chore to check off your to-do list!

Celebrating your progress reinforces positivity in your life and can make you motivated to finish your tasks promptly.

Just do it!

Getting out of your procrastination habits can be challenging, but if you put your mind and dedication to it, you’ll find yourself more productive and efficient than ever!

Train yourself to commit to your tasks and reward yourself after reaching your milestones. Remember, progress takes time. I hope these practical tips on how to overcome procrastination can help you pave your way to a more productive life.

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