How to overcome procrastination?
Whether you've always known you’re a procrastinator or just recently come to terms with it, you're in good company. Procrastination is a very human tendency to get out of doing something unpleasant. But forget the fact that everyone's doing it. There are plenty of good reasons to kick the habit. Research has shown that chronic procrastinators suffer from anxiety and stress, with low levels of energy, self-esteem and self-confidence. In other words, it's unhealthy, both physically and mentally. So how do you get out of this self-defeating cycle?
It's in your head
What's your least favourite part of procrastination? The stress of leaving everything down to the wire? Knowing that you're submitting something subpar when you're capable of better? Having to force others to work on tight timelines because they were waiting on you? Mentally review (and exaggerate, if needed) the consequences to help get you in the zone to get down to business. Nail down why you want to stop putting things off, and use that as a motivator to kickstart the process. Conversely, think about how great it'll be once you finally get it done. Another thing off your plate and another step towards some guilt-free time for yourself.
Find a friend
Habits are hard to break on your own. When you don't answer to anyone but yourself, it's easy to let things slide again and again. Find a friend to help keep
you accountable—preferably one working on a similar task or in a similar role as
you are. Ask them to check in with you periodically to make sure you're still on track. If you have a few real go-getters in your network, talk to them! Take advantage of their expertise and find out how they avoid procrastination and pick up some tips. It wouldn't hurt to start spending more time with them too—after all, you are the company you keep!
Break it up
If all you can see is an enormous, insurmountable task ahead, no wonder you'd rather put it off. Find ways to turn a huge to-do into a collection of smaller ones. Try writing out a list or creating a bunch of intermediate steps for your project. Seeing everything written out (along with due dates) will help you visualize what you need to do. And don't underestimate the power of positive reinforcement. Reward yourself each time you hit a milestone, using mini-motivators like an episode of your favourite show, a latte from the coffee shop or even just a break to scroll Instagram. You know what works best for you!
It's generally accepted that it takes about a month of dedicated and deliberate focus to break a habit, so don't get discouraged if you find yourself falling back into your old ways. Change can be hard. Focus on your wins (that time you submitted your presentation early) and resolve to do better without beating yourself up. You’ve got this!