Steps To Success, Or How To Beat Procrastination

August 07, 2018

beating procrastination and how to succeed

Procrastination can be defined as follows, "to voluntarily delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay.”

It doesn't sound too good, so why do we do it? 

For many reasons:

  • It may be due to our feelings - we may be anxious, depressed, feeling overwhelmed, shamed, and/or frustrated due to having to do something we don't want to do. 
  • It may be due to a fear of failure or a fear of success. 
  • It can be due to rumination - thinking ourselves out of action.
  • It is often linked to personality. If you have any of these personality traits you may be at higher risk of procrastinating - low conscientiousness, perfectionism, low self-esteem, low self-efficacy, low self-efficacy for self-regulation
  • It can also be due to lacking some relevant skills, such as being poor at time management, not setting goals, etc. 
How can I overcome it?

The first step is to gain clarity as to exactly what tasks or goals need to be done. Write a ‘To Do’ list of tasks and goals you need to work on. Prioritise the list of tasks. “Chunk” each task into smaller bite-size pieces, and then estimate the time needed for each part of the process. 

To follow are some great anti-procrastination strategies. Choose a couple that you think will suit you and give them a try. 

Eat That Frog: Also known as doing the worst task first. If you do the task you consider to be the most difficult first, then all your following tasks will appear easy by comparison.

Fast Five: Plan to spend only five minutes on a task (or you can make it ten minutes). Because five minutes is a small amount of time it makes the task appear relatively easy to do. And usually, once you get started doing something you were avoiding, you'll keep at it. 

Best Place: Find the best location or best type of environment that allows you to be most productive or creative. For some people, it will be somewhere quiet and isolated. For me, I find working in a rowdy cafe great for my focus and energy. Find what works best for you. 

Best Time: Determine what time of day you are the most productive or energised or focused. Use this time to do the tasks you find the most challenging or where you need the most mental energy. 

Work-Break-Work: This is the tool I use when studying for exams. I set 50 minutes to study and then have a 10-minute break where I get up, move around, and do something different. And then I hit the books again for another 50 minutes. I find this strategy keeps me energised and focused for most of the day. 

Take a Break: Make sure that you take a break away from work or study at times. Often, if you allow yourself a proper break, then when you go back to the task at hand you'll have the mental energy to throw at it. A proper break may be a walk outside, doing a breathing exercise, or doing some meditation. Again, choose what you think will work best for you. 

Reward Yourself: Planning a reward for yourself at the completion of a difficult task can sometimes be just the trick to keep you focused and working on that task through to completion. Sometimes we procrastinate because we feel like we're missing out on something, but if we have a reward planned that feeling may dissipate. 

 

Mindfulness and meditation are wonderful tools for dealing with procrastination. Check out our meditation and mindfulness handouts. Or consider getting some assistance to get started with meditation. You might also like to consider our online course - Simplify Your Life - to assist with clearing away any distractions. 

 

 




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