Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow? If that’s your general philosophy, you just might be a procrastinator. While procrastination may be gratifying in the short term, it’s not doing you or your career any favors in the long term. Not only does it increase your stress levels, but it can lead to sub-par performance and stunt your overall growth.
It’s well worth taking steps to abolish the habit of procrastination. Here are five tips and tricks to help you make it happen:
Do you regularly set goals and revisit them frequently? If not, this could actually be one of the underlying causes of your procrastination.
Many times, procrastination is the result of not knowing which direction to take. This may be caused by a lack of specific goals. When you set goals, not only do you give yourself a source of motivation, but you give yourself a specific thing or things to work toward. This means that you can break your goals down into manageable steps, and you know what you need to do to achieve them.
Setting specific goals can be a great way of proactively avoiding procrastination.
Think about what you could gain
Considering why you want to kick the habit of procrastinating can be a powerful source of motivation. First, consider this: how is procrastinating holding you back or causing problems in your life or career?
Maybe you’ve noticed that whenever you leave a project until the last minute, you miss out on sleep, which leads to increased stress, which puts you in a bad mood. None of these things feel very good. Next, think about what you could gain by not procrastinating. For instance, in the above situation, it might be more sleep, an improved demeanor, and a greater sense of vitality at work. Sounds like a win!
Establish a routine
A lack of routine can make it easy to get lazy and tend toward procrastination. By establishing a routine that works with your schedule and style, you’re more likely to maintain a sense of discipline and get things done efficiently.
For example, some of the highest achievers have a regular routine that involves waking up early. This allows them to have some quiet time in the morning so that they can get tasks or emails out of the way so that when it’s time to work, they can focus on what needs to be done.
Of course, a routine doesn’t have to be set in stone. One of the great things about a routine is that it provides you with an infrastructure. You can always veer away from it, but you always have that structure to keep you organized and on task. This makes it much easier to avoid procrastinating!
Tackle annoying tasks early
As the day draws on, it can seem harder and harder to work up the energy to take on a challenging project. For the best odds of successfully completing a project that tempts you to procrastinate, tackle it first thing in the day.
There are a few reasons why. First, you’re generally more energized in the morning, which makes you better prepared mentally to take on a challenging task. Additionally, the earlier in the day, the fewer emails, requests, and unexpected things have come up, so it’s one of the best times to attend to something uninterrupted.
If you have a large task that you procrastinate on, dedicate a period of time each morning to it. You’ll feel more productive, more capable, and you’ll be more likely to get it done on time.
Just do it
So much of procrastination is ruled by doubt and uncertainty. If this is the case for you, consider a technique pioneered by Tim Ferris nicknamed “the five second rule.”
It’s pretty simple: when you have the inclination to act on a goal or milestone, start working immediately -- like, within five seconds -- otherwise, the brain starts making excuses and leans toward procrastination. By taking this “just do it” approach, you can take on the task with minimal doubt or fear or overthinking. Sometimes, just starting is all that you need to work up momentum.
Those few seconds of working can easily become minutes or hours spent on the task, helping you avoid falling into the procrastination trap.
None of us are above a little harmless bribery. Sometimes, the best way to get stuff done is to incentivize yourself. For example, say that you want to get a project done but you’re having trouble with procrastinating.
To help kick yourself into gear, you might establish a goal that if you finish it a day before it’s due, you’ll treat yourself. It might be a dinner out, new clothes -- whatever keeps you motivated. When you reach your milestone and treat yourself, it will cement the message that good things happen when you don’t procrastinate. This could lead to increased productivity and less mental blocks--this is the type of neural rewiring that can set you up for success!
Ask yourself, are you a procrastinator and what can you do to fix it?
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.