The deadline is looming.
But instead of working on it, you find yourself doing unproductive things such as surfing Facebook, checking emails, watching YouTube videos, and doing just about anything other than working.
It is estimated that as much as 20% of us are chronic procrastinators. And the other 80% of us… well, we also do tend to procrastinate from time to time.
Procrastination is the number one killer of productivity. And it is the single most detrimental factor that is standing in your way of success and achieving your goals.
If you want to be a more productive, more successful and more accomplished person, you have to eliminate procrastination from your life.
And here are 10 smart ways to beat procrastination today.
1. Set Deadlines
Almost all of us procrastinate at some points in our lives. We constantly put off doing the thing we’re supposed to do.
And yet, we’re suddenly transformed into this giant productivity machine, churning out assignment after assignment and working at our most efficient, just because the deadline is approaching.
That is the magical power of deadlines.
But why wait until the actual deadline is round the corner, and when you’re at a real risk of getting scolded from your boss, or worse?
Why not manufacture your own deadlines?
2. Unclutter Your Workspace
If you have stuff from fifty-two different projects scattered on your desk, there’s almost no way you can focus on the task at hand.
A messy table also demotivates you from taking action.
Your desk should only be filled with work that you’re currently working on. File everything else, and archive those that you don’t need anymore.
3. Plan for Success
We’ve all heard the phrase, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. And yet, most of us go through our days without a solid plan.
As much as you should have long-term plans, you should also have daily plans.
Every night before you sleep, spend about 5 minutes roughly planning what you’re going to spend your time on the next day.
Then, place that plan on your desk, so that you’ll see it first thing in the morning. This prevents your mind from getting distracted about the core things you need to get done that day.
4. Get Accountable
It’s always hard to get things done when you’re not accountable to someone.
If you work in a team, then you’re automatically accountable to your teammates. And if you report directly to your boss, you’re accountable to him.
But what if you don’t have anyone to account to, or if you’re running your own business? It doesn’t matter because you should always get an accountability partner.
That way, he can keep you in check, and you can make sure that he is also on the right path. And both of you will end up achieving much more.
5. Chunk Down Your Tasks
Building a house is simple, you just have to lay the bricks in a specific order. It’s difficult to build a house, but it’s easy to lay a single brick.
When you’re faced with a mammoth project, always break it down into smaller tasks that you can easily complete with little effort.
This helps when you’re stuck with a huge project because you don’t know where to start.
By breaking it down into very small steps, all you need to do is to take each step, and soon, you’ll be building yourself a nice big house.
6. Do It for 30 Minutes
There’s something in psychology known as the Zeigarnik Effect. And basically, it says that we have a strong innate desire to continue pursuing a task if it’s left uncompleted.
By starting your task and doing it for 30 minutes (even 10 minutes will help), you’re tapping into a fundamental human trait to aid you in completing your work.
Don’t worry about how much work you can accomplish in that 30 minutes. Wanting to do too much often freezes people and causes them to procrastinate.
Instead, just focus on spending a set amount of time doing actual work.
7. Use a Software
There are many sophisticated productivity software and apps available in the market. And they are all designed to make you accomplish more in a shorter span of time.
However, you don’t need to get every ultra-high-end thousand-dollar software in the market just to beat procrastination.
Free tools work just as well. You’ll find that a simple one such as Google Calendar works wonderfully and they’ll even send you reminders right to your smartphone and email inbox.
8. Set Goals (And Check Them Off)
There’s something inherently satisfying about checking off your goals.
You always hear people telling you to set big goals for the future. But it’s also just as important to set very small goals.
A big goal is like the lighthouse in the distance. It may serve as a guiding post and offer you a direction, but if you really want to move quickly towards it, you need to set intermediary goals.
You should have goals that you need to accomplish every day. Write those down on a piece of paper, and remember to check them off once you’ve accomplished it.
This builds momentum and motivation to continue striving.
9. Identify Your Procrastination Triggers
Almost all procrastination is triggered by a specific cue.
For example, when the clock strikes 4PM every day, you may suddenly find yourself tired, restless and lethargic. And you just can’t get any work done.
It’ll be good to find out if the sight of the clock at 4PM is your trigger for procrastination.
All cues will trigger off a specific chain of events that ultimately lead to procrastination. The sight of the clock striking 4PM might make you feel hungry.
You get off your desk and walk into the pantry, where you get yourself a cup of coffee and chat with your colleagues.
And before you know it, it’s been 45 minutes. You walk back to your desk, and you tell to yourself, it’s too late do anything productive, so you engage in unproductive work until it’s time to leave.
You will always derive some sort of reward from the routine. In this case, it might be the pleasure of getting your stomach filled or the social interactions you enjoy with your colleagues.
You must identify the specific reward that is compelling you to engage in that behaviour, and find a way to get that reward without disrupting your work flow too badly (like having a fruit at your desk).
10. Recharge Your Mind and Body
Many people procrastinate because they’re worn out – both physically and mentally. They’re literally on the verge of getting burnt out and they can no longer focus on their work.
Your body is not a machine, and you cannot possibly work non-stop and expect to perform at your best all the time.
Take time off once in a while to recharge your mind, and you’ll find that you can work more efficiently once you get back.