A writer isn’t in the best position to teach on how to stop procrastination. It took me almost 36 hours to get down to writing this, and this was after I had gotten all the background work done. I just kept putting it off for no good reason. 36 hours is actually an improvement for me. I have put tasks off for weeks, months. Some things are even infinitely on the pending list. I just know that I’ll get around to it tomorrow, but tomorrow never ends. Tomorrow is a favourite word for us procrastinating expats. We leave tasks undone while faffing, reading social media updates, sorting file folders that can wait, or chatting (my personal favourite).
As a matter of fact, I think almost everyone procrastinates, we just do it in varying degrees. Some of us are really good and grapple with it hourly while some only enjoy the complacency of procrastination just once in a while. I like to justify my procrastination with ‘I’m naturally lazy.’
I have managed to conquer procrastination in certain situations, but I’m still slowly but surely trying to reduce it to the barest minimum. So, I have decided to share a few how-to-stop-procrastinating tips that have worked for me. I derived these tips from experience and from a little bit of research.
Start– This is the best tip, just start. Half the time, once you start you have overcome the procrastination.
Reminders– Set reminders. I do this and then I attach little motivative notes to the reminder. The notes read something like ‘If you don’t write that article, you are losing out on…’ I am sure you get the idea.
Buddy- Get a motivating friend. Talk about your work with them and undertake to motivate each other.
Announce- Announcing your projects will motivate you to get started on them. Tell acquaintances, friends, colleagues etc. As they ask about the progress, you will be motivated to work on the project.
You’re not lazy- Okay, maybe you are, but don’t accept it as a way of life and use it as excuse to not get work done.
Five minutes rule – Similar to Starting, the Five minutes rule states that you dedicate five minutes of your time to just getting started. Just say, ‘let me spend five minutes on this’. Most of the time the stipulated five minutes will be extended and you will end up completing a substantial part of the task or at least having something to go on from.
Cut distractions- What’s your distraction? Chat? Gist? Social networks? Just cut the distractions off for a while.
Task list/goals – Have a task list and set goals for each task.
Time and track- Time, how soon do you want to be done with each task or project? Track your progress and by all means judge yourself.
Clear as you go- Try to complete tasks as you go, don’t leave any task halfway if you can complete it as the motivation to pick up from where you stopped might not come again anytime soon.
Change environment– Your environment might be making it easy for you to just put off work. Do you have chatty friends around? Unlimited internet access? Leave and set up elsewhere when you want to work.
Music- I love music. So I often use music to jam out procrastination. You should try this.
Identify your fear– You have to identify what it is that scares you about that project/task, then face it.
Give yourself a break– Not every time work work work! You know those distractions you cut off some moments ago? You have to consciously go look for them sometimes. Seek new forms of entertainment too and treat yourself right.
Wake early- Having an early start to the day is a great way to overcome procrastination, especially if your typical day is a busy one. You can take advantage of the quiet morning to get some of those personal tasks out of the way.
And of course, when you get over procrastination, there is a consequential increase in your productivity and you can more effectively maximize your creative potential.