Everyone procrastinates now and then, but some people suffer much more than others. If you feel that procrastination is negatively affecting your productivity, then it is time to do something about it.
In this article we will look at why people procrastinate and what you can do about it. We discuss the importance of being clear on your goals and knowing your distractions and other weaknesses. We then consider productivity tips and tricks to help you maintain motivation and keep focused.
Know your Weaknesses
People procrastinate in many different ways and for different reasons. Some people procrastinate because they are disorganized. They can’t manage their time or keep on top of their tasks. They easily get distracted. Other people find it hard to sit down and get started on a task, or they concentration after a short amount of time.
Stress often causes procrastination. The fear of failing or not producing good work can result in much time wasting. Feeling unmotivated or considering a task boring can also affect productivity. Equally, feeling over burdened by a massive project or juggling too many tasks can have an extremely negative affect on your focus.
The key is to recognize why you procrastinate and then deal with your behavior accordingly. Try to identify the main reasons behind your procrastination, and monitor when you are particularly unproductive.
RescueTime is an app that can track your behavior. This solution analyzes the time you have spent on different websites and applications, so you can see how productive your day has been, when you were most efficient, and when you weren’t. By understanding your habits in this way, you can start to make the necessary changes to improve how you spend your time.
Get Clear on your Goals
When starting a task it is important to be clear on your goals. Why are you undertaking the task and what will the end result be? You may be working for a client in exchange for payment, creating your own website or business, building towards a project or completing an assignment. By picturing the end goal and result, it will remind you of the importance of the job in hand and help keep you motivated throughout the task.
Also, consider how you will benefit from the completion of the task. What will you get out of it and what is at stake? Again, the reward may be financial, or there might be a sense of pride in your finished work. You may feel relief, less stress, and benefit from free time. Whatever the task, keep in mind the end goal and what you will achieve by finishing the project.
Top Tip: Write down your end goals for the task you are starting and the rewards and benefits of completing the work. Refer to this list when you feel your motivation dwindling.
In this technological day and age, distractions are everywhere. Between emails, social media and phones, messages, beeps and pings are constantly distracting our train of thought and making it much more difficult to stay focused. On top of this, because we have to work on our laptops, the internet is right there, calling us. So what can we do to avoid these distractions and stay focused?
Escape Your Phone
Turn off your phone. Leave it in your bag, at home or in another room. Don’t check it. If the thought of having no access to your phone for the day, or even the morning, is just too much, then plan in times throughout the day to check it. During breaks and lunch time, but not during designated work times.
Emails are a terrible distraction. Each time you read an email and respond, you are mentally taken away from the task in hand. Turn off notifications. Or log out altogether, so you can’t easily access your mail by simply switching tabs. Again, designate an email checking and replying time throughout the day if you must.
Use Internet and Social Media Blockers
Freedom is a solution used by thousands to block the internet, social media and even apps. Freedom can work on all devices, at the times of your choosing, and even for specific websites that you find particularly distracting. Having no access to these interruptions will help increase focus and productivity.
Have a Designated Work Space
It is not just online where you find distractions. Chatting, tuning into other people’s conversations or spending time daydreaming are all ways which can easily lead to procrastination. If possible try and have a designated work space, away from noise and conversations. If this isn’t an option, you may need to think about investing in noise canceling headphones.
Enable Distraction Free Writing
Lastly – take advantage of WordPress’ built-in functionality to keep you focused. Distraction Free Writing can be enabled by first adding the button from the “Screen Options” tab in the upper right corner when you’re in the WordPress dashboard, then just click on the icon that appear in the post editor section.
Apart from avoiding distractions, there are many other ways to beat procrastination and get you motivated and focused.
Write a To Do List
Procrastination is often caused by poor organization. If so, it’s time to take control. If you have numerous tasks jumbling around in your mind, write them down. By creating a ‘To Do List’, you are taking control of what you need to accomplish.
But don’t cheat. There is no point completing all the small tasks and leaving the most important ones. Number each job in order of importance and always start with the most pressing ones.
Finish is a free app that helps you organize all your jobs into a sensible list, with time frames attached. Finish will constantly remind you if a deadline is looming, so you keep on top of outstanding tasks. Then enjoy the satisfaction of ticking off each task as it is completed.
Timetable your Day
Create a timetable for your day, with a list of what you want to achieve and what each hour is going to be dedicated to. Schedule in breaks and rewards to keep you motivated. Prioritize the hardest tasks at the beginning of the day when your mind is refreshed and firing on all cylinders. Leave the admin and easier tasks to the end of the day.
A well-used trick by many procrastinators is to use a Pomodoro Timer. The Pomodoro technique encourages 25 minutes of work followed by 5-minute break on a repeated cycle. The idea behind it is to give your mind a break every 25 minutes so it doesn’t become worn out and unproductive.
Tomighty is a free desktop Pomodoro Timer app that works on Windows and Mac computers. There are also lots of Podoro apps for the iOS and Android.
Schedule in breaks that include rewards for hard work. You could reward yourself after each two hours of solid work. Or treat yourself when you have managed to check three tasks off your ‘To Do List’. You can choose the incentives, which could be anything from checking Facebook or having a coffee and a cake to buying something new. You will know what you respond well to, so pick something that you are going to work for.
An accountability partner may help with rewards and consequences. Reporting to a buddy, and comparing progress, may help you keep on track and feel accountable for your behavior. If willpower can be an issue for you, let your partner be in charge of handing out the rewards.
Create an Action Plan for Overwhelming Tasks
Procrastination can be caused by stress. If a task seems overwhelming, break it down into individual steps. Work out roughly how long each task will take and allocate time accordingly. By checking off each task as you go, you will feel in control and will be able to see the progress you have made.
Many of us find music a big distraction when we are working. However, Brain.fm has created music that has been found to focus your mind, make you more productive, and enable you to stay ‘in the flow’ for longer. If you work in a noisy office or busy coffee shops and want to drown out the noise, don’t like the sound of silence, or just need a little boost, then Brain.fm might be a good option to keep you on track.
Beating procrastination is all about creating new routines and good habits. Set clear goals, know your weaknesses, and try and arrange a distraction free working environment. And try out the different tips and apps suggested in this article and find what works for you.
What top tips have you got for beating procrastination? Please share in the comments below.