Some claim that procrastination is a modern age disease, that people didn’t even know the word before the last few decades. Still, it’s here, and today probably half of the world suffers from it.
You know it well too – when you’re putting things off and off, becoming more and more unable to actually do something, like you sank into quick sand and can’t get out of it.
“The procrastination pit” would be a totally appropriate name for it.
Still, there are a few very simple habits that you could adopt and reduce your tendency to procrastinate – or even completely pull you out of it.
1. Prepare for the day
This comes before you turn your computer on, or whatever device/action means that your work day is about to start.
Find a quiet place and make sure you have a journal and a pen. Clear your head, get rid of your phone or iPad and breathe a little. It will help you focus and settle your thinking, and you’ll be able to get into the right frame of mind.
Then write down the things you need to do that day, whatever comes to your mind, and then figure out which one is the most important. Bold that one, and do it first.
2. Minimize distractions
Just like with the morning routine, make sure that while you work, TV is off, Facebook or email tabs aren’t open…
Whatever is your favorite way to stop for a few minutes here and there – cut it off while you work.
3. Do these things during a set time
The things you do while you procrastinate, they’re a habit now, and it’s better to set some time aside to do them (that mindless news feed scrolling or game playing or whatever). Your brain needs rest every now and then, and these are the activities that relax you, so indulge yourself – but set a timer and give yourself no more than 15 minutes.
4. Don’t multitask
Many experts agree that nobody actually has the ability to multitask, so keep that in mind the next time you think “I can do all this”.
Multitasking decreases productivity, and it’s far better to focus on one task and do it to the best of your ability without interruption.
5. Ask for help or feedback
If you’re not sure about how something should be done, don’t hesitate to ask others. It’s tempting to try and investigate it yourself, but many times it will mean that you’ll end up surfing the Internet reading things totally unrelated to what you were going to investigate.. and procrastinating again.
6. Break down big tasks into micro-steps
Having a task with many subtasks can cause a mental overload, even before you start working on it, so in order to avoid the path of least resistance break each task down into smaller steps, and finish it step by step.
7. Talk to others about your progress
Finally, by involving someone else – be it a friend, a coworker, an editor, a mentor… - you’re making yourself accountable in front of someone who’s not you.
Let them know if you’ve made any progress, and if not, why not. The mere thought of having to explain yourself to someone you respect and admire will stop you from even thinking about procrastinating.
Finally… get enough sleep! That’s the first prerequisite for your brain to work optimally - and to stay aware and away from the "procrastination pit".