Procrastinator by vocation? We teach you how to kick the habit!
February 3, 2023
Okay, a new year also means a new beginning, doesn’t it? Well, then stop saying “I’ll do it, tomorrow” and start doing it now. For many, putting off tasks until the very last minute is a way of life. Whether due to self-doubt or over-confidence, for these people there is no motivator stronger than a looming deadline to get things done. They are the procrastinators.
There’s no question that chronic delaying can lead to negative consequences. However, how to stop it and actually get things done? The fact that you don’t know how to face it could be the real problem, but for that reason we’re going to show you that even if you’re the best procrastinator in the world, you can make it better!
What causes procrastination?
First of all, it’s important to know that contrary to popular belief, procrastination isn’t a product of laziness. In fact, we can interpret it as the result of being unable to manage negative feelings about a task.
As you see, one study found that it is related to the human propensity toward instant gratification. Avoiding the unpleasant emotions around doing something becomes more urgent than completing the task itself. While it’s not the only theory about it, it is the best known.
How to stop procrastinating: Practical strategies
Now that we’re on the same page, we can tell you some of the most important strategies to face your problem. It may not be a long list but these are the most effective ways to combat procrastination.
1. Acknowledge the procrastination
Perhaps the most important step as “the most effective method for controlling this feeling is to identify its root cause and address it at its source” writes Damon Zahariades in The Procrastination Cure.
To begin with, if you want to break the habit for good, it’s important to take notes about your feelings and inner dialogue whenever you’re tempted to reschedule a certain task. Keep in mind that learning how to stop procrastinating starts with understanding what drives it.
2. Check in with your goals
Actually, the decision to procrastinate may stem from a disconnection with the reward or benefit of completing a task. Therefore, another important aspect is to set meaningful goals, look for new ones or reconnect with long-term ones in order to reduce procrastination. Furthermore, this practice should also enable you to set mini-milestones to chop a major goal into bite size tasks.
3. Create false deadlines
Be completelly honest, everyone in the world (at least once in their live) has had to work under pressure thanks to a near deadline, right? This couldn’t be the best option to stop procrastinating or kick the habit, but it’s a good option to reduce stress in the last days of a project or task since you’ll experience the pressure of a deadline without the possible consequences of last-minute rushed work.
4. Break big tasks into manageable chunks
The last step reafirms us that many of us have become procrastinators because we feel our tasks as massive endeavors. In that case, a good way to overcome the habit is rethinking the to-do list.
To do so try to avoid big end goals and break out each one into sub-tasks that give you a sense of accomplishment and momentum. This concept is often employed in a business setting when teams work in “sprints” (a set of tasks worked on within a defined timeframe).
Example: Rather than adding “Write business plan” on your to-do list, maybe it’s broken out into tasks like “do market research” (which may then be further broken into “conduct a focus group” and “run a competitive analysis”) and “brainstorm brand values.”