It happens to the best of us. You’re working on a big project or simply trying to get your work done for the day and you can’t get focused. You keep telling yourself you have plenty of time, and instead of working, you do just about anything else.
This can be an occasional phenomenon or it might be something that happens to you almost every time you have a deadline. Either way, procrastination is a bad habit that should be addressed.
And it’s not as difficult as you might think! By making simple changes in your lifestyle, such as writing a schedule and removing distractions, you can become a much more productive you.
Read on to learn everything you need to know.
1. Breaking the Task Down
One of the worst things you can do to yourself when you’re trying to be productive is hand your brain a giant, seemingly insurmountable task. Because whether you’re conscious of it or not, you’re going to be overwhelmed.
Let’s say you have to clean your house. Instead of telling yourself “clean the house,” give yourself bite-sized tasks to accomplish that will get you closer to the overall goal. Make a list of tasks: empty the sink, vacuum the bedroom, scrub the shower.
In doing so, it will be much easier to build momentum, as you’ll be checking off tasks frequently, giving your brain that reward sensation it craves.
This method can be applied to anything, from cleaning to a project for work or school. Break the major task down into smaller ones until it feels manageable, then get started.
2. Changing Your Work Area
Do you have a specific area in your home in which you work? If not, you could be making a major negative impact on your productivity and not even know it.
For example, let’s say you work on the couch, where you also play video games, watch movies, and hang out with friends. When you look at the couch, do you feel inspired or do you feel like relaxing?
The key is to create an association between a certain area of your brain and work. To do so, there should be a space (it doesn’t have to be an entire room) of your home dedicated to work and only work.
This space should be clutter free and should make you feel like you want to complete that looming task. If the space you create is extremely effective at first but loses its effect over time, don’t be afraid to rearrange or redecorate to recapture that spark.
3. Writing a Schedule
You have an assignment due tomorrow at 9 am. Instead of making a schedule, you tell yourself that you have plenty of time and that you’ll get to it at some point. This is the absolute worst thing you can do – you’re sending your brain an invitation to procrastinate.
Once you’ve broken the major task into small ones, you need to create specific deadlines for each of those small tasks. Make your schedule detailed; it’s important to create a sense of urgency. The goal here isn’t to stress yourself out, but there needs to be some kind of consequence (e.g. throwing off the rest of your week) if you don’t complete your scheduled tasks.
With this in mind, don’t overwhelm yourself with things to do. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day, week, or month, because failing to do so will only create more negative feelings around the task.
4. Removing Distractions
How easy is it for you to procrastinate? Do you work from your computer, where all of your favorite bookmarks are waiting? Do you try to complete assignments in front of the TV or around your friends while they’re relaxing?
It’s not about going as far as to write everything down instead of typing it to avoid your computer or deactivating your social media accounts completely. Instead, know where you tend to fall victim to procrastination and address it with yourself.
Utilizing tools like the Pomodoro technique can also be helpful. This is where you set a timer (perhaps using this fantastic projector alarm clock) for 25 minutes and work as hard as you can for that time. When the timer is up, you get a small break, then work again. Every four breaks, you get a longer one.
Having the knowledge that you only have a certain amount of time to work, plus the knowledge that you have a break coming up, will help to motivate you toward completing the task in front of you.
5. Being Honest About Your Goals
Sometimes, if you try everything and nothing seems to work, your procrastination is a sign of something deeper. If you can’t seem to make yourself do something you need to do, it could be because, deep down, you know that you’re going in the wrong direction in terms of your goals.
Think back to the beginning when you first started setting career goals. Do your interests and hopes still align with those you had at the start? If not, it might be time to regroup and change your goals to reflect the new you.
Making a plan and setting goals for yourself and your future should be exciting! If it isn’t, it’s time to have an honest conversation with yourself about what you really want.
Become a Better You and Reach Your Goals With This Guide
Every now and then, procrastination is going to get the better of you, and that’s okay. What’s important is to not allow this negative habit to take over your life.
By confirming your goals, writing a schedule, and making it simple for yourself, you’ll find tasks much easier to accomplish. And it won’t be a struggle forever – the longer you practice positive habits, the more natural and effortless they’ll become.
For more tips and tricks on improving your life through scheduling and goal setting, take a look at our blog!