Procrastination is the thief of time as the saying goes. Ask enough people what problem they struggle with when it comes to time management and productivity and you are sure to get procrastination as an answer. If you identify as a person who struggles with the problem of procrastination then we have a few practical tips for you on how to beat procrastination and boost your productivity.
Firstly you need to find out the reason you are procrastinating. Many people make the mistake of assuming procrastination is a character trait rather than a response to conditions around them. A lot of people have resorted to identifying their tendency to procrastinate as part of their being but when I have worked with people who procrastinate what we have found in many cases is that procrastination is a symptom rather than a cause. People tend to procrastinate when there is fear, anxiety or overwhelm associated with a task. So ask yourself why you are procrastinating to start with.
The next step is to take responsibility for procrastinating. So instead of dismissing your procrastination as a character trait or creating an imaginary procrastination monster that you can blame for your procrastination accept responsibility for your actions up to that point. When you know why you are procrastinating you can tackle those reasons and start doing something about them.
Commit to task
The next thing you want to do is set yourself up to succeed in the task at hand. You should use something called an implementation intention. What you will find is that people who have more clarity on what they intend to are more likely to do it. This isn’t limited to what they intend to do but also how and when. An implementation intention is a statement something like “I will read 3 Startupbiz articles on my phone every morning between 06:30 and 07:00 while I have my breakfast before visiting any social media apps or sites”. Feel free to repeat that one to yourself. The idea is to get clear about the process of performance.
How you go about doing this will depend a lot on what you respond to as a person. You need to create a system of accountability. For some people, something as simple as a to-do list gets them into shape and form while others need an external force such as an accountability partner to check on their progress. Different strokes for different folks. The important thing is having a system that checks on your progress and holds you to the implementation intentions you have created for yourself.
Manage environment for distractions
This doesn’t just apply to procrastination but distractions as well. If you find yourself repeatedly engaging in other tasks than the tasks you are supposed to be doing you might want to look at your environment. This applies especially if the other tasks you are doing are not productive. It may just be that you have an environment that is full of distractions that can take you away from your intended tasks. One example I give is how I learnt to start writing early in the morning before people are up, this automatically cuts the possibility of people distracting me. Hardly anybody is up in the early hours. Those who are, are busy working on things. If somebody reaches out to you at this time it is likely a real emergency.
Eat the frog
As mentioned before many people procrastinate because of the fear associated with tasks. For example, one may think or feel a task is daunting and hesitate to attempt it. The general advice around this is to just start, in many cases, you will quickly realise the task is not as daunting as it seemed. I would go a step further and say Identify the hardest part of the task, the part that makes you want to procrastinate the most and tackle that first. This works to your advantage for two reasons. Firstly, whatever you encounter you will know that whatever remains in the task cannot get harder than what you have experienced. Secondly, you will tackle the hardest part when you have the most energy.
If you identify as a procrastinator perhaps it’s time you realised procrastination is something you do not what you are. Try these tips out to improve your productivity and squash procrastination.