Being productive. Staying disciplined. Not procrastinating. All of these things go hand in hand. Procrastination is such a killer. Even the most boring thing in the world becomes appealing when there are important and time-sensitive jobs to be done.
But how do you stop delaying your important tasks in order to get things done? Here are five simple ways to help you combat procrastination and defeat your to-do list.
1. Start The Task
Get over the hump of procrastination by starting your task. That’s the hardest part. Once you have started, your brain will continue to pester you to finish the task. So, if the procrastination bug has hit you, start on several tasks and leave them undone. These unfinished tasks will be stuck in your memory and you’ll be more likely to complete them later.
2. Move, Tidy and Create Space
Procrastination breeds in the midst of messiness. If your environment is chaotic, your approach to work will also be chaotic. Productivity needs clean lines, set objectives and manageable apparatus. If you don’t have these things, then procrastination lurks, waiting to pounce.
Sometimes it is solved by simply moving to a different space. Change location in your office, take your laptop to the toilet, or go for a walk with a dictaphone app.
Usually the best thing to do is to spend half an hour just tidying up your space. Make it work again so you can work again.
The final option of course is to create a new space. If you are chronic procrastinator then there’s probably a ‘chronic space’ cause. Buy a new desk and some ferns and design an office space that genuinely works for you.
3. Procrastinate With Purpose
Sometimes if you can’t beat the tide then you’ve got to roll with it. Make yourself a list of tasks that need to be done and will add value to your day. If you are going to procrastinate, choose one of those tasks to do. You might need to go through two or three before you find one that you’ll settle on – so make sure there’s plenty of variety.
4. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
Sometimes procrastination is just caused by simple body chemistry. Apparently we are at least 1% dehydrated 90% of the time. Dehydration kills your focus dead. It lowers your defenses and makes you more open to suggestion. It also stops you processing information clearly and it dulls your sense of creativity. Dehydration is a big deal.
If you feel the procrastination bug settling in, then reach for a bottle of water. In fact, knowing that you need to drink 2 liters of water a day, try to keep a bottle of water nearby at all times. Remember that caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee do not really rehydrate you. Unfortunately, neither do glucose-saturated energy drinks. Reach for the water, it’s worth it!
5. Make like Nike and “Just Do It”
Perhaps a slightly cliche ending, but Nike really was onto something with their famous marketing slogan. There comes a time when you do just need to man-up, pick yourself up by your bootstraps, make an active choice and just get on with it. No self-pity, no excuses – just crack on!
An old counsellors trick is ‘observe, choose, react and feel.’ Look at the situation (observe), make a decision about what to do (choose), actually get on and do it (react), I let that drive how you respond to it (feel).
A procrastinator has this backwards: they feel rubbish, react by doing something different, have their emotions and reactions define their choices and look through those blurry lenses at the reality of their original situation. Believe me, I know. So let’s just do it!