Practical ways to stop procrastinatingChen Wan Lim
The funny thing about procrastination is that we often do not even realise that we are procrastinating. To avoid undertaking a task now, we often tell ourselves that we could always do it another time or there is something more urgent that needs to be done now. At the end of the day, nothing has been accomplished and things just get piled up. To avoid procrastinating, we need to first recognise and realise that we are procrastinating – half the battle is won when you realise. Here are some helpful tips to avoid procrastination or rather, to help reduce it:
Tip 1: To-do list
Come up with a daily, weekly and monthly to-do list. Tasks that must be done urgently will fall under the daily to-do list while things that can wait a bit will fall under the weekly or monthly to-do lists. Having a list that clearly states the tasks that need to be done will encourage you to finish those tasks as planned. You can also take a step further by giving yourself datelines for those tasks. For example, reading two topics of microeconomics before lunch at 12 pm. Be sure to also keep your to-do list somewhere visible that you can refer to easily. Before the end of the day, make it a point to accomplish all the tasks on the to-do list.
Tip 2: Identify distractions
It is also wise to identify things that are distracting you from accomplishing your tasks. Distractions come in many varied forms from electronic devices to unconducive rooms and even ad hoc tasks that pop up out of the blue. Once you have identified these distractions or rather potential distractions, you can then take proactive measures to address them to avoid having those distractions steer you off course.
Tip 3: Focus on the end goal
Keeping your eye on the prize will also help you avoid procrastinating. No matter how small the tasks are, constantly remind yourself of the positive outcome should the task be completed. You can also reward yourself with something after a task has been done. Focusing on the reward is also good motivation for you to avoid procrastinating and delaying the task.
Tip 4: Breaking down a task into smaller portions
If a task is too big to handle single-handedly, try dividing the task into smaller bite-size portions. Set datelines for each portion. This way, a huge task will not appear huge and intimidating when broken down into smaller tasks. Once you have accomplished a few small portions of the huge task, you will be more motivated to see the entire task completed – since you have already completed part of it anyway.
Tip 5: Create penalties
If the reward for completing tasks does not motivate you, try penalising yourself for not completing a task instead. For example, if you have targeted to complete three of your tutorials by days end and have failed to do so, then penalise yourself by not watching the movie you have booked for this weekend.
Tip 6: Accountability
If you need an outside force to make sure you get the job done, then select a few friends that you can be accountable to. Get the consent of your friends and set specific times to check-in with them after the task was supposed to be completed. Being accountable to someone will drive us to accomplish the goals that we set and also to be apprehended should we fail to complete the task.
No matter how small and mundane a task may be such as taking out the garbage or updating your calendar to larger things like completing a 1000-word essay, procrastination is a nasty habit of falling into. Start taking control of your life and stop making excuses just to avoid completing a task. Once you have stopped procrastinating, you will find that things will be more orderly and you will have a fresher perspective on life.