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How to Stop Procrastination

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 20 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Procrastination Overcoming

We have all probably been guilty of procrastination at some time or another but if it becomes a habit, it is one that you need to break.

What is Procrastination?

Procrastination is where you put something off that you know should be dealt with now. There’s a world of difference between delaying an action because you have more urgent things to attend to. With procrastination however, you’re fully aware that something needs to be done now but, for what could be a whole host of reasons, you still keep putting it off.

The following examples will illustrate some of the more common reasons why people delay seeing to the most important things straight away and how you should deal with these situations to help you overcome procrastination.

Lack of Interest

A lot of procrastination occurs because you’re simply not interested in the task. You might be feeling lazy or tired and, even though you know you should be seeing to something, you just can’t be bothered. To overcome this, you should try to schedule the task for the time in the day when you tend to feel your most energetic.

Another way to motivate yourself out of your inertia is to use the ‘carrot and stick’ approach. In other words, give yourself a reward if you achieve the task in the time you’ve set to do it.

Fear of Failure

People put off doing things because they fear they will fail or that they’ll end up looking stupid. This form of procrastination reflects a lack of self-confidence and belief so this is an area you’ll need to work on.

Once you’ve been on a confidence building course, you’ll often find that your fears were completely unfounded. It also helps if you visualise how you’d feel having accomplished the task successfully and this can help kick start you into action.

Avoiding Distractions

Losing focus by becoming distracted by other more ‘interesting’ things, is also a common excuse for procrastination. Obviously, that programme on the TV is going to be far more interesting than ironing but you need to get your priorities right.

One of the ways to do this is to allocate a set amount of time and a start time to each of the tasks you have to do. Block off that time and make it a rule that nothing will come between you and the task until you’ve completed it.

Therefore, once you begin the task that means no TV, no phone calls nor any other interruptions that could end up seeing you abandon the task halfway through.

Complicated & Unpleasant Tasks

From time to time, we’ll all be faced with tasks that are less appealing than others. There will also be tasks where we feel we might be a little too much out of our depth to accomplish them. If you’ve no other priorities, one of the best ways of tackling unpleasant tasks is to get them out of the way first. That way, once they’re done, you can spend the rest of the day attending to those things you enjoy or, at least, those which you don’t loathe so much.

The problem with leaving an unpleasant task until the end of the day is that it will be preying on your mind all day. And, because of that, you’re likely to only complete all of your other tasks far more slowly, perhaps subconsciously thinking that you might run out of time to tackle the unpleasant task today anyway. Therefore, get it out of the way first thing.

With complicated tasks, however, the key to overcoming procrastination here is not to look at the big picture but to break the task down into small, individual components then it’ll be far easier to work through them one by one.

In the end, it all comes down to willpower and self-discipline. Where necessary, you might also need to replace bad habits with good ones.

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