We have all been guilty of it – procrastinating. It’s almost human nature to put things off until the eleventh hour and enter a state of scrambled panic just to get even the simplest of tasks done (Some people do perform better under pressure and a little adrenaline rush; so hey, we’re not judging.)
Procrastination is a daily hurdle - We tend to make excuses for pushing projects behind, delaying new beginnings and making ideas into a tangible reality.
Too often do I pull out the ‘zero inspiration’ card just to get my procrastinating posterior out from doing something productive. However, I always end up regretting most of those wasted weekends just lying in bed, rotting away when I could have been doing something more fruitful! Here’s how I burst my procrastination bubble, through my own experiences:
Make It Public!
I’m an avid Twitter user and I tend to babble about the comings-and-goings of my life there, sharing my upcoming goals and plans with my friends, regardless of how trivial they might seem. Getting into a regular fitness routine seems to be my life’s biggest Achilles heel (next to procrastination), but I realised that I would be more inclined to stick to a daily workout plan and take more proactive steps to up my fitness game if I posted my experiences or fitness goals online.
Social pressure after posting on a widely-accessible public platform does make a pretty good motivator, as you will feel a sense of obligation to share the outcomes or at the very least, a few (positive!) updates of your journey with your fellow followers and peers. It’s another way to keep your drive going if you feel your commitment slipping away. Plus, getting your friends involved in your intentions helps keep you motivated, too.
Post on social media, start a blog documenting your journey – just get it all out there!
*Here’s your daily social media PSA: Be careful of what you post online, everyone!
Have Not So Gentle Reminders
Sometimes subtleties work, sometimes they don’t. When it comes to getting you out of that procrastination rut, the key is to be as ‘in-your-face’ as much as possible.
List your pending tasks down on somewhere you know you will pass by often. Be it sticky notes on your work-desk, a reminder on your phone, notes on your laptop. Write in caps and colours if you need to. Set a reasonable deadline for each of the listed tasks.
One of my methods of tricking myself to complete tasks earlier is to set a deadline before the actual deadline. If I had an assignment due on the last week of March, I’ll be near completion or have completed it the week prior. It also allocates plenty of time for you to make necessary amendments to enhance the quality of your work, while allowing you to perceive the work and efforts on your task from different perspectives.
Another trick is to race against the clock; if I give myself a couple of hours to finish an article, I notice that I’m less likely to be swayed by the other distractions around me and focus on the task ahead.
Rewards are love, rewards are life. The premise is a simple one – integrate a reward system to encourage action and stop the time-killing cycle of procrastination. It’s also alright if you want to arrange a task around a particular reward. Back when I was still allowed to order from the kids’ menus and eat for free, I used to allocate an hour of video games only after I finished all my revisions for the day. Even today, I’ll tell myself to have a treat, or do anything leisurely I fancy (binge-watching American Horror Story, for instance), only if I hauled my butt up from bed and actually did something I needed to do.
Rewards act as positive reinforcements in response to a particular action or behaviour – in this case, it may very well give you the little push you need to start doing that job or assignment you’ve been postponing since forever. Another bonus is the gratifying feeling of getting a task crossed off your to-do list. Yay to productivity!
It’s Not Goliath, So Break It Down
One of the reasons why people tend to procrastinate is that the task at hand is often deemed too major to complete in one-go, leading them to lose motivation and slack off.
So, what do we do? We break it down into smaller, more achievable goals. Split the monstrosity into smaller sections, and apply yourself to one section at a time. Slight progress is better than none at all; and when we are able to complete one portion of a task, we are subsequently more motivated to tackle whatever that remains. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t stress yourself out trying to complete a huge project in a single rushed attempt.
However, try to keep the momentum going – finishing a section daily comes recommended to keep your work mojo running at optimum levels.
Be Brave – Don’t Fear Consequence or Failure
I am a self-proclaimed perfectionist, a term that comes with both positive and negative connotations subject to personal interpretation. But research has shown that perfectionism may be the one holding you back from completing your tasks and getting your ideas off the ground.
Dr Brene Brown of the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, remarked that "vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity and motivation. Without vulnerability how can we innovate?" Her bold statement reflects the reality why some of us procrastinate - we delay because we want to hold off potential disappointment.
Striving for perfection may affect your performance and motivation in more ways than you could imagine. The fear of being unable to attain perfection constricts your capability to work, create and generate new ideas and work beyond an extremely limited scope. You’re basically handicapping yourself because you don’t want to face the reality of failure, embarrassment or disappointment, but only upon encountering these are we able to learn and grow and reach our maximum potentials.
Let us know if these tips helped you to conquer procrastination and improve your time management skills!