Procrastination is defined as intentionally and habitually putting off the doing of something that should be done.
Let’s face it: We all procrastinate. In fact, research conducted by psychologists and published by the American Psychological Association, state that between 20% and 30% of Americans are chronic procrastinators.
We put off writing holiday cards, cleaning the basement, working on a project, making phone calls, getting our taxes done and much more. The interesting dynamic with procrastination is that the task we are shying away from does not have to be significant. It is just something we would rather not do at a particular moment, because we would rather do something else.
Of course, procrastination is not the same as poor time management. It does, however, have a lot to do with how we channel our energy and motivation, as well as how we train our minds to cope with bad habits.
When you think about it, we all possess motivation within us. When it comes to things we enjoy doing, there is very little that can stop us. Our minds are focused, we set aside the time we need and it feels like we kick into a higher gear.
The challenge is that we do not enjoy doing everything. We all have different interests and skills. And for the things we dislike, it is often because we associate pain or displeasure with those tasks.
So, how can we fight off procrastination and be more successful at completing tasks and projects that we would rather not work on?
- Break a project up into smaller tasks. Occasionally we procrastinate because we see the entire scope of a project and get turned off by the sheer size of it. Large projects can be intimidating to get underway, tedious or both. Instead of focusing on the total picture and time required to complete, narrowing a project down to “quick wins” can help you get started.
- Accelerate deadlines for some deliverables. Another set of us put off starting a project because we thrive under pressure and enjoy the intensity that comes with being under the gun. By finding a way to accelerate deadlines so pieces of a project become due sooner, you can curb your desire to procrastinate.
- Set specific and manageable goals to achieve. By setting manageable goals you remove some of the opposition to getting underway. Being realistic gives you a better chance for success, whereas unrealistic and unmanageable goals are only going to reinforce in your mind the desire to delay.
- Research desktop and mobile productivity tools to find ones that work for you. Techniques are recommendations are important to fighting off procrastination. However, as we have become more digital, there have been an increase in the number of productivity apps, programs and tools available to us for our computers, tablets and mobile devices. If you are interested in productivity tools here are some from: Mashable, Business Insider and PC Magazine.
- Identify what stalls your progress and what are your biggest distractions. When people say they have a hard time getting going on a project its because they often do not realize what specific things are serving as roadblocks. Using social media (like Facebook), watching television, taking a nap, going for a walk could all be contributors to stunting your progress or your ability to get started. Another possibility is fear of failure. If you do start something there is no chance you will not succeed. At the end of the day, know what distracts you and what is blocking you. Then take time to set up ways to keep those things out of your way when you need to get started on a task.
- Rediscover your mojo. In “15 Ways To Get Your Mojo Back” I wrote a very popular list of ways we can reclaim that special power, drive or energy that is synonymous with effectiveness and success. Sometimes, one of the things that causes us to procrastinate is the lack of internal mojo.
- Visualize the positives of getting started and completing the work, as well as the negatives of delaying. I am big believer in the power of visualization. In swimming, running, work and other areas of my own life, I always take a moment to visualize positive outcomes. For the more complex tasks that I hate, I think about not just about the positives, but also the significant pain or problems that will be caused if I do not take action.
There are other ways you can fight procrastination. If you have recommendations, please share there them below in the comments section.