Procrastination has got to be one of the major contributors in the promotion of anxiety and depression. It can be both cause and symptom as one feeds off the other in a constant negative and destructive dynamic. In its throes, we wear it like a heavy wet cloak that slowly drains us of our life force.
So why does procrastination manifest itself in the first place? I doubt if there exists a definite point where we can recognize its beginnings in our life.
So the eradication of procrastination is a very worthwhile aspiration and one worth spending a little time and effort on.
Finding the Way Forward
So, having become experts on how to avoid important tasks, we should realize that – we have an advantage of knowing our enemy. We should therefore be in a better position to defeat it.
It is the feeling we have when we procrastinate that needs to be analysed and the results put to use for its (procrastination) omission from our behaviour pattern.
Below mentioned are 6 techniques to stop procrastination
Technique 1: Just Do It
Some people’s minds are pre-programmed to hate leaving things unfinished. So if your mind works that way, this is doubly powerful.
If, on the other hand, your mind ticks the box that “I’ve started it, so that’s OK” then you’ll need to use some of the other techniques I cover to actually get the project finished, rather than leave it abandoned, half finished. You’ll know which category you fit into most often.
But either way, starting something often gets over the fear and worry that our minds build up around things.
So, for those big, important projects it’s worth making a start.
And not just a half-hearted start either. Set aside at least an hour or two to make a good sized dent in the project. That way you can look at it with a bit of pride, which often makes a difference to your thoughts when you come back to your next hour or two (or more) on the project.
Technique 2: Do the big stuff first
If you’re any good at procrastinating, you’ll know that it’s always best to procrastinate on the big projects and leave them to last. That way, when there’s only an hour left at the end of the day, there isn’t time to start them and you can put off the project for at least another day.
This technique turns that on its head:
Start the biggest thing of the day first.
There’s usually an initial sense of shock of that thought. After all, if you start the biggest thing first, surely there won’t be any time left for anything else?
Actually, the opposite is true.
A lot of the small stuff you do during the day only takes a few minutes – reading and replying to emails, checking what your friends have been up to on Facebook, Tweeting about what you saw on television last night.
And you’ll still find time to do that stuff, no matter how busy you are, because when you put your mind to it most of those tasks can be handled in a matter of minutes.
So decide on the biggest project that needs working on today and spend your first couple of hours working on it.
Maybe you can start after your wake-up coffee but if that’s the case, set a timer that tells you that you absolutely must start working on your big project.
What you’ll find when you start to change your priorities is that you’ll accomplish more during the day and you won’t give yourself as much time to procrastinate.
Do this for at least a couple of weeks and you’ll find that it starts to become a habit. The normal way that you do things as opposed to the old way that you did things.
When you’ve spent your allotted time on the first project, take a short break and then move on to the next biggest item that you’ve been procrastinating on.
Technique 3: Split things up
Most people are better at doing a number of small things than they are at doing one massive thing.
That goes from the items you’ve been procrastinating about just as much as it does to exploring space or anything else we do.
If the item you’re procrastinating about seems too big then that’s probably one of the major excuses you’re using to avoid starting it.
Split the project up into smaller units. Small items just seem less daunting than one gigantic item.
So it may well pay you to spend the first hour or two of a big project splitting it out into its component parts.
You don’t have to split it down to really finicky stages but you should split it down to small enough steps that anyone with at least some intelligence could follow what needs to be done.
Technique 5: Use your attention span to your advantage
We all have different attention spans. You’ll probably know instinctively when you start to get bored or what’s too long to be working on something without a break.
Personally, I use old-fashioned CDs as a timer – I find I get more work done with music in the background.
Depending on the CD, they last between 30 and 70 minutes. So depending on my mood, I set one playing and when it ends, I decide whether to take a break, press “Play” again or choose a different disk.
I’ll also use different tempos of music according to the work I’m doing.
For me, the time a CD takes to play roughly matches my attention span on any given project.
Have some fun with this. No-one else needs to know what you’re doing to split things into the time frames that match your attention span (unless you tell them, of course).
Technique 6: Avoid those bright shiny objects
Most people have some kind of attraction to the latest bright shiny objects. It could be the latest iPhone or a new car or gadget. It could be the latest technique in your industry.
We’re always attracted by the word “new” – it’s why so many products you buy in the shops are reformulated on a regular basis, so the manufacturer can flash up the words “New, improved”.
New shiny objects are all well and good but we often use them to distract ourselves from the more important things that we need to do.
They are often pure distraction: it takes time to read up about all the new features, it takes time to learn all the old tricks we knew off by heart on the old version of the device.
Even if you’re one of those people who hates change, you probably still have a few areas where you suffer from shiny object syndrome.
Bright shiny objects are great if they’re your “toward” motivation and getting the latest gizmo or gadget is your reward for finishing a project rather than procrastinating on it.
But normally they’re just distraction in one of its purest forms.
We’ll spend hours salivating over these things, rather than doing what we know deep down we’re supposed to be doing.
Bright shiny objects are often the biggest sources of procrastination. After all, most everyone else will be dreaming about them as well, so they’ll think it’s perfectly normal.
If you suffer with this fascination with bright shiny new objects, you need to factor this in to your routine.
Like the idea of starting the day with the biggest item, slot in some space to dream about the next gadget you’ll own.
But put that time somewhere that it can’t drag on too long. Five minutes that you would otherwise have been checking emails again or whilst you’re waiting for a big file to download.
So you still get the pleasure of thinking about new things without them being used as a permanent excuse for not starting the important things that will allow you to make enough money to buy your new toy.
The bottom line is that, if you introduce these simple techniques into your system, life will be a lot easier and a large amount of time as well as nervous energy will be saved.