We all know the feeling: Too much to do in too little time. Overwhelming projects master us instead of the inverse. One of the biggest enemies of your time management is, the P word.
Procrastination. (Did your mind go to the gutter? If so, I advise you to come back. This is important, pervert.)
Unfortunately, no one is 100% immune to the disease. We all procrastinate a little here and there, but a large majority of our peers have managed to make it a profession.
5 Reasons Why Procrastination is so Tempting
- You may feel overwhelmed by the task at hand. There are just way too many details in one project to tackle it all at once.
- We overestimate the time needed to complete each task. It feels like it would take an eternity to complete a task.
- There always seems to be something better to do. The task is mundane, with a lack of pleasurable stimulation. Not even slightly gratifying.
- Perfectionism. You fear judgment upon completion.
- You feel you work better under pressure. In many cases, this may be true, but there is no need to make yourself inanely anxious.
Procrastinators always have an excuse in their pocket to justify the delay. Don’t be one of them. Get things done without being stressed.
10 Ways to Combat the Urge to Procrastinate
- Get started! Most of the time, the hardest part of a project is the actual start. Try to have a plan (written or mental) for which parts of the project to begin with, what comes next, and so on. Once you’ve begun, it’s really pointless to quit.
- Gain a more realistic estimate of time needed. Refer to times you’ve completed the task before. Figure out how long it will really take you, as opposed to how long you’re afraid it may take.
- Use the time you have! I can’t stress it enough—too many people waste valuable time doing nothing when they could utilize 10, 20, even 30 minutes to complete something. Do it piece by piece. If you have 30 minutes to kill before work, use it to tackle a small part of a large project. When you have more time to finish it, you’ll have less to do.
- Use a To-Do list. It may sound too “Type A Personality” for you, but a list is the easiest most comprehensible way to break down
tasks into small, manageable parts. When you have a list, you can compare what really needs to be done to what you’d only like to get done. When you knock out the hard stuff first, the easy stuff seems hella easy.
- Try to minimize interruptions. In this century, I know how hard it is to muster up the courage to turn off your cell, laptop, or PDA. You may feel less anxiety if you send a message that lets people know you’re busy. It becomes less likely that you’ll be distracted by unimportant chirps from your Twitter app. Or, if you’re in the middle of a text message conversation, tell the person on the other end that you’ll text them in an hour. Procrastinators often feel that while they’re busy, they’ll be missing something. In reality, your inbox isn’t going to hide any new messages from you. They’ll be there when you get back, I promise, and people are oddly attracted to people who have other stuff to do. So, get it done.
- Clear your workspace. You don’t want to get distracted by less important tasks. You don’t want anything in your line of sight that may divert your attention away from the task at hand. This goes back to recognizing your priorities.
- If it helps, set deadlines. Use a desk calendar and pencil in tasks on the day before you actually need them to be completed. That gives you a bit of flex room while establishing your time allotted.
- Reward yourself for even the smallest tasks. When you’re finished washing dishes, mix your favorite cocktail and watch your favorite movie. Rewards make us feel like we actually did something significant. However small, they’re very useful motivators.
- Find simpler ways to do things. Inefficiency is your second biggest enemy. When we make tasks more difficult than they need to be, we find ourselves dreading the actual “work”. For example, it’s way easier to gather and tie the trash up at night than waking up ten minutes early to gather it up before you go to work. If it’s possible, use technology to simplify your projects. If it’s faster to use a computer or your smart phone, don’t hesitate. Technology is your friend.
10. Use your moods as motivation. When I’m angry, I find that I can concentrate on cleaning more than when I’m in a good mood. Take cues from your own mind. If you’re down and feeling blues-y, play some Coldplay and try to focus on something else. You may find it easier to finish that history assignment.
The key thing to remember is that you don’t really have all the time in the world. A million things could stunt your progress, but you can also do a million things to combat them.