It’s Tuesday afternoon and you are, again, looking at that highlighted task on your planner. The one you promised yourself you would have finished by Friday morning. It’s been bugging you for the whole weekend, but you are still unable to start working on it.
This irrational and annoying inability to get the work done is what’s commonly called procrastination. It’s a very unsettling feeling because you are still doing other minor or alternative tasks, so you are not really relaxing, but you are not getting done what really needs to be tackled.
We tend to think that procrastination is due to laziness. But if you are still doing other work, then you’re not being lazy. Procrastination is not about laziness.
Procrastination carries with it a feeling of fear that is very hard to shake off! We usually procrastinate tasks that are important to us, things that feel risky or that are going to be very time-consuming.
A good way to tackle procrastination then, is not “becoming more hard-working” but rather focusing on the underlying feeling of fear or paralysis that is slowing us down.
The strategies below will help you shake off procrastination and become a productivity boss!
1- Find out the “reason why”.
Why are you not getting the work done? Forget the “I’m lazy” excuse. Dig deeper. What emotions do you feel when faced with this task? Does it feel too risky? Does it feel like it might not work? That other people might not like what you are doing/creating? - Write it down.
Procrastination usually arises because the task has a big emotional charge or feels very time consuming or long-term.
If it’s something new or challenging, tell yourself that if you don’t start now, things are going to pile up. It’s better to do things little by little than all at once. It doesn’t matter if it’s imperfect. Mistakes can be fixed more easily and on smaller portions of work rather than on a whole project.
If your reason for procrastinating is that it feels like a very long task, start by breaking it into smaller pieces. Can you create a small chunk of work that will only take 20 min or less? Almost by definition, with this time constraint, you avoid the pressure of creating something “perfect”.
We usually try to find the perfect moment to get something done in just one go, but there’s no such a thing as the perfect moment. Break it down and do it in chunks. Even if you only have 15 minutes to work on the task today, it’s better than nothing. You don’t have to do it all at once. Chances are that as soon as you get hands on a task you’ll realize it’s actually not that bad. I love the motivation boost that this realization gives me !
2- Avoid distractions.
Whenever we have to do something that we are struggling with, the dullest email or most boring phone call turns into an welcomed distraction. If you’ve only been able to schedule 30 minutes for that pending task you’ve been procrastinating try and give it your 100%. Turn off your phone and, if possible, disconnect the WiFi on your computer.
If you use your internet connection and phone as working tools, webpages like Cold Turkey and apps such as Forest can help you make the most of that limited amount of time. They allow you to block access to Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Gmail… for a certain period of time so you can still work with your devices without any distractions.
As a side note, your workspace doesn’t need that extra clean up you are thinking about giving it, so just start working!
3- Is it really procrastination?
Is it procrastination if you’re not getting a personal project done at 22.00 after a long day of work and taking care of your family? I’m certain that the term for that is exhaustion, not procrastination (and certainly not laziness).
Sometimes we put so much on our plates that we only focus on the things we didn’t do without realising what we’ve actually achieved throughout the day. Look back at your to do list and give yourself a pat on the back.
Give yourself time to eat, sleep and unwind properly every day. These are not luxuries, they are mandatory for your well-being. It’s important to be productive and achieve your goals, but we are human beings, not robots (even if they try to ingrain this thought on us). If you don’t give yourself the rest you need you won’t be able to work properly on anything. Schedule your sleeping and relaxation time!
If your problem is that you don’t have enough time during your week to act on certain tasks, don’t beat yourself. Check out other Sekkan blogposts where we’ve talked about time management tips and strategies.
4- Don’t feel it, just do it!
After understanding where procrastination comes from start getting the work done. It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel like doing it. Avoid dwelling on how you “feel” about it. Choose a date and time, set up your timer for 20 minutes and show up. It’s only 20 minutes, you can do this no matter how you “feel” about it.
You don’t ask yourself if you feel like waking up in the morning and going to work, you just do it. Interiorise the same mind-set for those projects that never seem to get done!
What other procrastination strategies do you use in your everyday life? Let me know on FB or in the comments!
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