How to deal with procrastination

Man writing on glass words Now, later, tomorrow, next week. Procrastination.

“You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.”

— Benjamin Franklin

Much of success in your personal and professional life comes with taking some risks and hard work. The greatest hindrance to achieving your goals and objectives is procrastination. If you can routinely slay the beast called procrastination you can take an important first step in changing your life for great success.

Below is a list of a number of things that could be causing you to succumb to the procrastination bug.

1.) You’re just tired

This first one affects me more often than I care to admit. Sometimes procrastination issues are as simple as just being too tired. You’re probably working too much and not getting enough sleep like what’s happened to me many times. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a physically demanding job that’s wearing you out and making you tired. If you work an office job, you will often find yourself getting tired just after lunch when you sit down at your desk.

Three simple things you can do:

a) Get up and walk around for a bit. The simple act of standing up, walking to the restroom, or the printer can get your blood pumping to help you to be alert and wake up. Do this when you find yourself getting sleepy and you’ll see yourself getting some of your energy back.
b) Go get some coffee. Human beings have been drinking coffee for many, many years and there’s a reason why – it helps you stay alert and focused. If coffee is not your thing then an energy drink such as Red Bull is will often do the trick.
c) Make sure you’re getting enough rest. If you know you’re going to have a big task or job at hand then make sure you are getting plenty of sleep.

2.) You believe it has to be perfect

Fear of wanting the job to be perfect probably means you’re overthinking the job and it will paralyze you from starting the work and completing the task. The best advice I can offer here is that in most cases, it’s better to get the job done than not get it done at all – in many cases. If the job really does need to be absolutely perfect, then perhaps you can ask your boss for more time or ask someone to help complete critical portions of the work you’re afraid you might make a mistake on and to double check your work.

3.) You lack the knowledge

If you can’t get started on the work because of lack of knowledge, then you can at least get started on doing your homework/research first. There are many online sources you can use to help you with learning more and learning new skills. Also, there are probably people you can ask for help who have done the job you are trying to do or have done some similar work. Don’t be afraid to seek out these people for advice and help. If you are still not sure you have the knowledge and skills necessary then perhaps someone else should do the job completely.

4.) You tell yourself you’ll do it later

Saying you’ll do it later is the essence of procrastination. The thing is, unless there is a very good reason why you should do it later (like lack of knowledge, not having everything you need, etc.), when later comes you might be even more stressed because of less time to complete the task or some other priority may come up that will not allow time for you to complete the job. All the more reason to do it now, rather than later.

“Following-through is the only thing that separates dreamers from people that accomplish great things.”

– Gene Hayden

5.) You work on the easiest part of job

One thing procrastinators will do so they can at least tell themselves and others they started is that they will do the easiest work first, and the hard stuff keeps getting put off. I’ve been guilty of making this mistake on occasions. One day an old co-worker told me about a trick he employs when tasked with a big assignment. He told me that he purposely does the hardest part of the job first, because he likes the satisfaction of having completed the tough part of the assignment first knowing that the rest of the job will be much easier afterwards. And the thought of the remainder of the job being easier is his motivation to complete it.

6.) You’re un-motivated

The core of most procrastination can be linked to lack of motivation. If you are un-motivated to do a particular job or task, then you need find a reason. You need to see how getting the task at hand done aligns with your overall goals. Sometimes, motivation can come from the simple and basic things as money or praise, but if none of that is available perhaps you can find motivation in the simple fact of a job well done. Whatever the reason, find it and get the job done.

7.) You don’t know where to begin

Depending on the job you can start with figuring out the many things that need to be done and making sure you’re clear on how to do the job. You might consider talking to anyone who has done the work before and they might be able to give you some tips on where to start and how.

8.) You give in to distractions

There are many things that can distract you from getting work done such interruptions from others, but the eight-hundred-pound gorilla in the room when it comes to distractions in this day and age is your smart phone and social media. In an earlier blog post, 22 New Year’s Resolution Ideas and My Thoughts, I talk about going on a digital detox which is something you should be doing anyway. When you learn how to digital detox, you will learn how to deal the distractions of the smartphone and social media.

9.) You’re overwhelmed by the amount of hard work and effort required

Big jobs are often big headaches. Being overwhelmed by the amount of work is a huge motivation killer.

Here some simple steps you can take to help:

a) Brake down the job or task in as many steps as possible and write it down on paper
b) See if there is anyone you can utilize that can help you with the parts of the job or task that are too difficult for you
c) Do the hardest thing first if possible so at least you can have satisfaction in knowing the hardest part of the job is done and easier sailing from there.
d) See if it possible to ask for more time. If it is a huge job and there’ not enough time to get the job done it will only put more stress on you and cause more anxiety.

“If you procrastinate when faced with a big difficult problem… break the problem into parts, and handle one part at a time.”

– Robert Collier

Conclusion

As you’ve learned there are a number of causes for procrastination. You need to take a hard look your situation and understand yourself enough in order to see what’s hindering your ability to get things done and hopefully you’ve found some of the above advice helpful. What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments.

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