Focusing on assignments or tasks can be difficult, especially when we have other things on our minds. The new year is the perfect time to break old habits and start to form new, healthier ones. For those procrastinators out there, we’re talking to you.
Procrastination is the deliberate avoidance of a task, especially difficult ones. Everyone puts things off sometimes, but someone who procrastinates routinely and deliberately looks to be distracted from what they need to or should do. You often hear statements like “I don’t feel like it” coming from a person who procrastinates. This bad habit can snowball into hours and hours of wasted time.
For these people—and for everyone really—sticking to a New Year’s resolution can be daunting. That’s why we have compiled a list of tips to help reverse your procrastination this year. If you want to reach your goals for the new year, you have to set your mind to breaking your procrastination habits.
How You Can Stop Procrastinating
Daring to Live Fully has a bunch of helpful hints on how to start defeating your procrastination. First things first, when starting this journey, don’t be afraid. Many people fall into the habit of procrastinating because they are afraid to fail. However, the reality of it is that even if you make mistakes, it is not the end of the world. There is always room for improvement. Failing one task won’t make or break you. To overcome your fear, try this: step back and size up the task at hand, strategizing ways to tackle it that give you the best chance of success. But don’t analyze for too long; sometimes, this period is when people talk themselves out of getting started. At a certain point, you need to stop analyzing and just take the leap.
Following the same idea of the first, don’t be a perfectionist. Aiming for perfection will make a task seem unmanageable and the outcome unattainable, making it more likely you won’t start at all. While you should always strive to do your best, perfection is impossible. Nobody is perfect. Expect to make mistakes. What matters is that you learn from those mistakes. That’s how you’ll grow to be a better you.
Another approach to defeating procrastination is to use the STING approach. The STING approach is as follows:
- Select one task
- Time yourself
- Ignore everything else
- No breaks
- Give yourself a reward
This is a great way to keep yourself on track and create a system that can work for all types of projects or tasks that you are working on.
It often can be hard to find inspiration for the work you are doing, but this next method can help with that. Don’t wait for inspiration to start. This means you should set time aside to work on something even if you don’t have an idea of the direction you want to take. Once you sit down and tell yourself that you are going to work, then inspiration will come to you. First thought, you just have to get started.
Another good way to not procrastinate is to make your goals very specific so there is no question as to what you have to accomplish. If your goal is vague, then that gives you no direction and no place to start. For Arnold Schwarzenegger, having a specific goal in mind was very important.
“No matter what you do, you first have to have a vision… to see your goal, to believe in it, have faith in it and chase it. And then it’s fun to chase it. If you don’t have a goal or a vision, then you have nothing.”
This one may seem like the odd one out: do nothing. But hey, isn’t that exactly what you’re doing too much of already? That’s why you are procrastinating. In actuality, it’s not that simple. When people procrastinate, they don’t literally do nothing. They do something, just not what they’re supposed to be doing: going on their phone, watching Netflix, cleaning the house for no reason. With this approach, you eliminate those options as possibilities. You either do the thing you need to do…or you do nothing. Those are your two options. This strategy is effective because it eliminates mindless entertainment and “busy work” as possibilities. The alternative to getting work done is sitting there in mind-numbing boredom. Suddenly, that task doesn’t seem so bad, does it?
Finally, you should be consistent with your schedule. Commit to doing something every day. Start with the small things and make a habit out of that, then work your way up to the bigger, more daunting tasks. When starting small, it makes the bigger task seem more achievable, and building onto that every day is the best way to go about it. It’s like working out; you start with the light weights and then as you progress you can move up to heavier weights. Keeping a consistent schedule will allow you to tackle the more difficult challenges.
Once you get in the swing of things, you will see the difference. Consistency is key to creating a new habit.
No matter the task in front of you, procrastination always threatens to rear its ugly head. It’s just plain easier to find something else to do. We even like to trick ourselves into believing that the thing we’re doing—cleaning the house, for instance—is somehow just as productive when that’s not the case. The new year is all about ditching these bad habits and creating better ones. With these tips, you are well on your way to a more productive year.