How to stop procrastination

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Have you ever found yourself overwhelmed and frantically trying to finish a task at the last minute? Do you substitute a boring task for an enjoyable one? And finally, have you ever started working on an important task and then suddenly decide to clean, check social media or rest? These are the signs of a procrastinator.

A man cleaning his entire house before doing his set tasks
A man cleaning his entire house before doing his set tasks. Image by Tavanna Green

So what can you do to stop procrastination? Here are some tips.

1) Acknowledge your procrastination

You need to recognise your procrastination for what it is. If you find yourself waiting to have the motivation or the right mood or atmosphere to complete a task, this is procrastination.

‘Taking a break’ to binge watch Netflix, Disney+ or Amazon series is also procrastination. A 30-45-minute episode will turn into an hour and in extreme cases, the entire day.  So recognise it for what it is: procrastination, and the only thing to be gained from this guilt.

A drawing of Netflix, Amazon prime and Disney plus logo
Netflix, Amazon prime and Disney plus logo. Image by Tavanna Green

Other signs to look out for

  • Being organised and working hard at making to-do lists but not actually get stuff done
  • Spending the day completing minor tasks, e.g. experimenting in the kitchen and cooking a meal that you have never made before
A man cooking while following the instructions from a cook book.
A man learning how to cook a new meal. Image by Tavanna Green
  • Sleeping for an excessive amount of time can be a form of  procrastination
  • Starting long and meaningful conversations instead of completing a task

2) Find out why you are procrastinating 

Procrastination can stem from anxiety, fear of failure or not wanting to sacrifice enjoyable activities. For example, to complete a task, you might need to work for a longer period of time. To avoid feeling this discomfort, you might need to change your set task.

A girl is sleeping with a pillow covering her ears
A girl trying to sleep off her problems. Image by Tavanna Green

Depression can cause procrastination because you can suffer a loss of motivation. 

3) Plan strategies of combating procrastination

Procrastination has consequences that can range from feeling guilty about not completing a task to actual failure. So you need some strategies.

A drawing of a woman planning her tasks
Plan ahead. Image by Tavanna Green

Strategies you could take:

  • Create achievable to-do lists and schedules and place them on significant objects

For example, placing lists on your fridge or snack cupboard will definitely motivate or irritate you into completing your work.  

  • Avoid distractions
A drawing of a video game controller
Hmm… tempting, but no. Image by Tavanna Green

Turning off your phone and leaving it in another room will combat distractions from social media and other people. Unplugging televisions and game consoles is also a good idea.

  • Find someone to inspire or nag you into getting tasks done

Having a stern figure keeping you on track can be a good thing. No one likes to have someone nagging them about what they need to do. In order to stop this nagging, you will most likely complete your task.

  • Focus on delayed gratification instead of immediate gratification
A drawing of a woman thinking about the future.
Have something to look forward to. Image by Tavanna Green

Focus on the end result. Don’t dwell on how much work you need to do, how you feel while you are doing it or how long it will take.

  • Reward yourself after finishing each task

Having a reward after each task helps you acknowledge what you have accomplished. Mmm, chocolate…

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