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Overcoming Procrastination

written byErickson Coaching Internationalon 04/03/2015

Sometimes we end up stuck in a cycle of procrastination that prevents us from getting to all the things we need to finish during the day. Often these can be minor things that aren't the end of the world if we don't get to them right away, but what happens when it's something far more significant, something that impacts your day, your life or your business in a much more noticeable way?

1. the act or habit of procrastinating, or putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention

Procrastination can be detrimental to anyone's day, so here are some ways to help you combat it and have a positive, productive day:  

  1. Be willing to be imperfect
    • You don't have the lower the quality of your work but you can stop spending excessive amounts of time on single tasks to ensure they are 100% perfect. Sometimes good enough is just that - good enough!
  2. Remove interruptions
    • If you have a specific project or task to work on, turn your phone to silent, close your emails, and remove items from your desk or computer that might be causing you to detract from the task at hand
  3. Break up overwhelming tasks into small ones
    • When a project or tasks seems too big, break up into smaller, more manageable tasks - this way viewing the project as a whole doesn't seem so daunting and won't stall your efforts to even get started
  4. Do one small portion of the task to get started
    • Sometimes getting started is the hardest part. Whether you start and continue on through all of your set tasks, or you simply set yourself the goal to complete the starting task alone, you are making progress. Remind yourself of that and use it as motivation any time you feel like you are starting to stall
  5. Concentrate on essentials
    • If you have five tasks and two of them have a shorter completion time frame than the others, do those first; perhaps there are other stakeholders relying on you to get something in particular done so that they, in turn, can move forwards
  6. Focus on one task at a time
    • We are often inundated with so many things going on at once during the day, making it hard to focus, but taking the time to settle and stay on a single task means that you have a better chance of getting it completed before moving on to the next. Jumping around from task to task can often result in the feeling that we haven't accomplished anything at all!
  7. Make unimportant decisions quickly
    • Focusing too much time and energy on a decision that isn't really specific or key to the task at hand can take up valuable time that should be spent on key decisions that need to be made to move forward
  8. Set deadlines for yourself
    • Giving yourself a deadline can help keep you on track - whether it's setting yourself a specific amount of time to complete something or knowing that you have other commitments during the day, giving yourself deadlines can help you accomplish what you need
  9. Get the difficult part of a job over with first
    • Sometimes just knowing how hard a particular task can be is enough to stop you from getting to it. Face these more daunting tasks head on so that they don't dwell throughout the day and make you less productive
  10. Set minor tasks aside so you can move aggressively to work on projects of major importance
    • This comes back to breaking down your larger projects or tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. Once you have broken something down, it's much easier to see the minor tasks and completing those swiftly gives you a sense of accomplishment that can motivate you further
  11. Consider the problems or challenges that may arise if you delay action
    • When you understand the consequences of your actions (or lack thereof), you can better prioritize your efforts and motivate yourself to focus and get things accomplished. When other people are relying on you to get something finished, it often provides a deadline for you to work towards, keeping you focused and on track
  12. Promise yourself a reward when you complete a less-preferable task
    • Your reward can be anything from a refreshing cup of tea with a treat cookie to a ten-minute break from whatever it is you are doing. Giving yourself a reward for doing the less favourable tasks might be best at keeping you motivated to see them through

Procrastination is something we all deal with at one time or another, while some of us are inherent procrastinators for almost everything. Recognizing how and when we do it is a great start to overcoming it one step at a time. How do you keep yourself motivated?