Being lazy and procrastinating or putting off important tasks are at the root of most people’s lack of success. Don’t get us wrong: even successful people procrastinate from time to time, but they never let it stand in the way of getting what they want. They also find ways to overcome procrastination and laziness. What you need is a plan; a step-by-step guide to eliminate procrastination and make a habit of getting things done right away. The following are some proven ways to stop procrastinating and start doing things:
1. Understand why we procrastinate
In most cases, people procrastinate because of fear. It could be fear of failure or fear of pain. Students procrastinate from doing their homework because it seems monumental or because they are afraid of how much work it entails. Once you identify these triggers, you are more likely to turn those thoughts around. Talk to that voice inside your head that you cannot and tell yourself that you can.
2. Keep distractions away
Most people, when they have a deadline looming, spend time checking and rechecking their messages, emails, and doing other useless stuff on social media. If you actually keep away your phone or tablet away for a while, you will find that the simple task only took an hour which you would have stretched into three or four hours due to the distracting pings on your phone. That is so unnecessary! So simply keep distractions away and promise not to watch videos, surf the Internet, or check texting apps or emails. See how productive that will make you! You will also get the rest of the day to do the stuff you love.
3. Break down larger tasks into smaller, doable tasks
This is the easiest way to stop being lazy and start doing stuff. Break down the assignment into smaller, doable tasks. These are known as inch-pebbles or miniature milestones. Select the inch-pebbles of the size you are comfortable with. This will also help reveal details of the complete job that needs to be done and can greatly improve your ability to make accurate estimates and increase productivity. Here are some more tips to create inch pebbles:
- Every evening, assess the work done. Create a to-do list so you can start your next day accomplishing the first task.
- Determine how long you need to spend on each smaller task.
- Prioritize. Know which task needs to be done first.
4. Change the environment
Procrastination often stems from boredom. A simple way to avoid boredom and get back on track is to change the environment. It can get soul-crushing for an office worker to sit at the desk day by day and for a student studying in his/her bedroom day and night. A simple change in scenery can help. Here are some tips:
- Tidy your desk; de-clutter.
- Add some pictures or some inspirational quotes near your workplace but take care not too over-do stuff as that might distract you.
- Make your office/workplace as comfortable as possible.
- Go away on a weekend getaway, if possible. Taking regular breaks can enhance productivity.
- Get a hobby; something you are passionate about. It could be singing, dancing, sketching, etc.
5. Create detailed timelines with specific deadlines
When you keep just one timeline, you are inviting procrastination. Instead, breakdown the job in smaller tasks each one with a specific deadline. This way, you will feel good as you finish each task on a certain date or at a certain time. That automatically enhances your motivation to work harder and faster. Make sure you keep your deadlines robust; this means that if you do not finish your task for the given day, you have to make up for it and work overtime to finish it. Otherwise, it would jeopardize all other deadlines. This practice will create urgency for you to act.
6. Use the 5-minute rule to stop procrastination
When you are extremely reluctant to do a task and find yourself putting it off again and again, just promise yourself to work on it for 5-minutes. This is the best way to tackle a long-neglected task. Often, at the end of 5-minutes, you will find yourself wanting to go on! The advantage of the five-minute plan is that it takes the ‘sting’ out of the seemingly painful task.
7. Eliminate your procrastination pit-stops
Below are some of the most common procrastination pit stops and ways to eliminate them:
- Fear of failure – Address the fear. Once you identify it, you can take steps to get rid of it. Learn to laugh at your fears. Tell those voices in your head that you won’t fail and that all your fears are unfounded.
- Pressure – A little amount of pressure is good to help motivate you to work faster and more diligently. But too much pressure leads to stress which leads to fatigue. So de-pressurize. As stated above, break the task into smaller tasks. Take a break. Get help. Seek assistance from a mentor. If possible, outsource some work. Meditate to manage stress. Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day to energize body and mind.
8. Hang out with people who inspire you to take action
When we say ‘hang out’ with certain inspirational people; it does not just mean family, friends, or colleagues. It also means people on the Internet. Seek out and follow successful people who encourage you to do more, plain and simple. Their words and actions will certainly inspire you to do more. Read motivational stories of success. Join forums and online groups.
9. Work with a partner/buddy or a mentor
We all know the power of teamwork. When you work with someone you like, respect, and trust, you can stop procrastination in its tracks. Healthy relationships are crucial to your well being and they also motivate you to do more. A mentor can help. Talk to a teacher/senior student/older colleague about your reluctance/problem. They can guide you in numerous ways with advice, anecdotes, and other valuable tips.
10. Announce your goals to the world
When you have a goal that you want to reach, you can write it down or, better still, announce your intentions to your friends and family. For example, ‘I will write the bibliography of my book over the weekend’. Once you have made your intentions well-known, there is little chance that you will put it off. It is human nature: we often deceive ourselves when it comes to procrastinating, but there is little chance that we would deceive others.
11. Redefine and re-clarify your goals from time to time
It is very important to step back and check your progress from time to time. When you check your progress from time to time, you prevent yourself from getting bogged down with unnecessary details. If you do find that you have wasted time unnecessarily on certain parts, you can again pick up the pace, rectify, and still reach your goal in the allotted time.
12. Keep it simple
Complications lead to delays, confusion, disappointment, and even commercial paralysis that lead to procrastination. So try and keep things as simple as possible. Often our thoughts complicate things. So take a moment to assess the situation:
- Write it all down: your fears, your progress, your to-do lists.
- Pause before making a comment or taking an action. Ask yourself: what is my main problem/goal? Why am I doing this? Is this step helpful? Get advice if needed.
- Twice a day, breathe deeply for 10 minutes.
- Do not multitask. Focus on one task and do it well.
- Be specific.
13. Get a grip; just do it!
Eat that frog! Frog, in this case, means the hardest thing that you hate doing the most. This is Mark Twain’s philosophy. He says: every morning, if you eat a frog, you can go through the rest of the day happily, knowing that you have successfully done the one thing you hate doing and are most likely to procrastinate. So if you have two ‘frogs’ eat the ugliest one first which means do the hardest, most boring task. Discipline yourself and continually remind yourself of the most important decisions you make each day and do that work immediately. Very soon you will get into the habit of doing things and there will be no more procrastination on your behalf.