Everyone procrastinates on something. It’s important to recognize that you’re not alone, procrastination is normal, and there are tactics you can embrace to get through it. In fact, procrastination is so common that proven tactics have been tested and proven. Here are the top ten ways to overcome procrastination.
#1 Give it Five (or Ten)
With this tactic, the objective is to spend five or ten minutes doing the task that you’ve been avoiding. The logic is that you can endure five minutes of anything. And five minutes out of your day doesn’t impact much else.
Set yourself up for success by making a list of difficult things you have done or situations you’ve gotten through in five or 10 minutes. Start each sentence with, “If I can _______ for 5 minutes, I can (insert task action) for 5 minutes. Repeat these to yourself as often as needed.
If you’ve been avoiding cleaning off your desk, spend five minutes on the task. That’s it. When the five minutes is up, you are free and clear to stop working on the task. Of course, most often, once you get into doing something, you are able to continue. You’ll probably finish cleaning off that desk.
#2 Reward Yourself
This tactic doesn’t work for everyone or every task. However, it is largely successful for most and it’s definitely worth a try. Look at the task or project you’re avoiding and create a motivating reward. For example, if you’re procrastinate on writing a business plan you might reward yourself with a new piece of office furniture, business cards, or you might reward yourself with a day off. Are you delaying starting that exercise program? Reward yourself with a new fitness outfit after two weeks of exercising regularly.
#3 Find Your Why
Why are you procrastinating? There is often an underlying reason. Sure, maybe you just don’t like doing the task. But maybe there is another, deeper, reason behind your procrastination. For example, a writer may procrastinate on the last chapter of their book because they’re afraid of feedback, rejection from editors, or the revision process. Dig deep and try to figure out why you are procrastinating. Then, you’ll be able to face the project head on.
#4 Work on Your Discipline
The truth is that you can benefit from a little more self-discipline. You probably don’t push yourself as much as you might. You don’t stick to the task, and you give up too easily – not all the time, but probably more than you’d like. So, start working on your self-discipline.
For example, you might run for one minute longer or eat one more serving of vegetables. Wake up 15 minutes earlier to make one more phone call each day. Start learning to push yourself just a little bit harder. It’ll overlap into all areas of your life and you’ll be able to accomplish that project you’ve been dreading and avoiding.
#5 Set Realistic Goals
One of the biggest reasons that people avoid some projects, goals, or tasks is because they simply expect too much from themselves. They’re unrealistic. A common example is the weight loss goal. “I’m going to lose 15 pounds this month,” sounds great on paper. It’s specific and it is time bound. But is it realistic? Not really. Sure, it’s possible to lose that much in a month but it would require tremendous discipline, a great plan, and no mistakes.
Something that might be more realistic is “I’m going to lose a pound a week by cutting 500 calories out of my diet and walking for 20 minutes a day.” This makes the plan feel more achievable and you’re less likely to procrastinate. When setting goals for yourself, make sure you feel 80-90% confident you can achieve the goals you set for yourself.
#6 Visualize the Completed Task
Imagine how you’re going to feel when the task is done. How will your life be improved? How will you feel? It doesn’t matter if it’s a big project or a small one, this tactic works. When you can imagine the outcome, it’s easier to get started on the work.
#7 Make it Fun
Think about what you can do to make the task fun. Would it be more enjoyable to do it at a coffee shop? Could you listen to your favorite music while you work on the task? Or maybe you can enlist a friend to keep you company or help you out. Even the most boring tasks can be more enjoyable with the right approach.
#8 Positive Mindset Development
Wipe away all negative thoughts and language around the task you’re procrastinating on. For example, if you catch yourself thinking, “I hate cleaning my desk.” You might change that to “I love having a clean desk. I feel more productive and creative when I have a clean desk.” Then, you can focus on what is possible about the task or project and let go of the negativity.
#9 Break Up Projects
Break up large projects you’ve been procrastinating on into smaller bite sized tasks. Often, we avoid doing some things because we know they’re going to take forever. You control this. For example, instead of painting the entire house, you might paint one room each month until the project is done.
You get to decide how the project is managed and completed. If you’re procrastinating on a work project, you may not get to decide how it’s managed but you can still break it up into smaller pieces that feel more manageable.
#10 Group Related Projects
Sometimes a task you’re putting off doing is related to other tasks. For example, cleaning your desk and updating your files are two tasks that may overlap. When you group similar tasks and projects, it helps you be more productive. It also helps you capitalize on a productive mindset and feel accomplished when you’re finished. One project runs into the next and you are done with that dreaded project before you know it.
Look at the tasks and projects you’ve been procrastinating on both in your personal and your professional life. One of these ten tactics is sure to help you push through and get the job done. Identify the tactic that may work best for you and enjoy your success. Procrastination doesn’t have to slow you down.