It’s time to get started on that homework assignment, or maybe you need to finally clean your room. But no matter what it is, the thought of getting started seems like too much work and you end up putting it off until later. If this sounds familiar, then this blog post is for you! We’ll take a look at some easy ways on how to avoid procrastination so that we can spend our time doing the things that are important instead of wasting it away thinking about them.
Here is a list of the most effective ways to avoid procrastination:
- Break larger tasks into smaller tasks
- Think about what motivates you
- Learn to tell yourself “no”
- Set aside some time for your favorite distractions
- Schedule a specific time frame for the task and set alerts if possible
- Have someone else hold you accountable (a coach, tutor or friend)
- Create competing priorities
- Put yourself in the moment to avoid it
- Don’t let negatve thoughts get in your head
- Create a new habit by tackling small tasks on a consistent basis
- Use a Planner or Journal
- Reward yourself for completing tasks
1. Break larger tasks into smaller tasks
If you’re trying to get a lot of work done, it’s tempting to start with the easiest task and then do progressively harder ones. But this can actually backfire because we have limited willpower, especially when we don’t know what is going to be in store for us. If you break your larger tasks into smaller pieces, things will seem more manageable and you’re more likely to keep going.
When dealing with larger tasks, your mind always wants to know what the next step is. If you’re not sure how to break them down, try spreading out your larger tasks on a whiteboard and then asking yourself:
- What needs doing?
- How many steps are there in total until completion?
- Which step should I do first? (do this one before moving onto others)
2. Think about what motivates you
This is an important point if you want to avoid procrastination. You need to find the motivation within yourself that will help get the work done in order for it not to feel like such a burden. Ask yourself questions like “What am I doing this for?” or “What positive thing will happen if I do this task?”. If you’re still not motivated, use these tips to help:
- Find a book or TED talk that’ll inspire you
- Think about the worst-case scenario if this task is left undone and feel energized to take action in order to avoid it.
- Look at your big picture goal (the thing that’s motivating you) and break down the task into smaller pieces. This way, the task won’t seem so daunting.
3. Learn to tell yourself “no”
It’s so easy for us to say yes and then find ourselves overwhelmed because we took on too much in the process without realizing it until later when things are really tough. So, if you’re feeling like you might be headed down that path, try telling yourself no before accepting commitments. You can do this by saying “no, thank you” or “not now”.
To avoid procrastination, you should have negligible work that doesn’t require much effort. Continuously saying yes will lead to a lot of commitments and, eventually, you’ll have too many things on your plate that are all going to be difficult for you to do well.
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4. Set aside some time for your favorite distractions
We need to create a little bit of space in order to have the mental clarity needed to tackle anything that’s put in front of us. If there are certain activities that make you feel better and more productive, try to set aside some time in your day for those.
Remember, our bodies need time to recharge so that we can be our best selves. If you don’t spare such time, you will end in a situation where you’re constantly exhausted and unable to focus on work productively. This is what causes burnout for many people.
5. Schedule a specific time frame for the task and set alerts if possible
There is nothing worse than realizing that you’re going to have an assignment due on Friday night at 11 pm when it’s already Monday morning. If you do this, then sometimes forgetting about things makes sense.
So, if you have a task that needs to be done in three days and it’s Monday morning, try setting up an alert for Wednesday night. That way you’ll know ahead of time so that you can carve out the necessary work time. If it is an assignment you are handling, you will avoid the rush that comes after procrastination. For most students, this eventually leads to a fail.
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6. Have someone else hold you accountable (a coach, tutor or friend)
Picking an accountability partner is a great way to make sure you follow through with your commitments. It can be someone who will remind you of the task or something that needs to be done. However, this helps when we have support in any area of life.
Your accountability partners will always have your back. These are the people who will be there to help you through the tough times. He or she will be following up to ensure that a task is completed as scheduled.
7. Create competing priorities
The easiest way to avoid procrastination is by doing something that makes you feel good. But, if we don’t have anything like this in our life then it’s time to start thinking about what motivates us. Whether it’s a personal goal or making more that can work best for you. This is where creating competing roles can be of help.
If your goal is to lose weight, then you can create competing priorities. In this case, you can tell yourself that if I don’t exercise for an hour today, then I’ll eat a cookie or order pizza tonight. This way, we create consequences and natural competition in our lives. And it’s also important to understand what motivates us before we can create such a system.
8. Put Yourself in the Moment to Avoid It
Too many people don’t live in the now and, as you know by now, that’s one of the reasons why we procrastinate. Our minds are constantly racing with thoughts about our past or future events. In turn, this prevents us from taking care of what needs attention now.
This is why it’s important to put yourself in the moment and focus on what you’re doing right at this moment. And if there are things that need attention, try tackling them as soon as possible. Do not let such things pile up until they become too overwhelming.
9. Don’t Let Negative Thoughts Get in Your Head
It’s so easy for us to start thinking about all the things that are going wrong and how we’re not able to do anything about them. But, when this happens, it’s time for you to stop thinking so much. At this moment, you should focus on the positive aspects of your life instead.
If you start focusing on all the negatives then the balance will be off in your life and you’ll end up procrastinating. You’ll find that you won’t have the energy to do anything productive which will also make it harder for us to feel motivated.
So, if these negative thoughts start popping up in your head, try replacing them with something more positive and let go of any fear or worry
10. Create a New Habit by Tackling Small Tasks on a Consistent Basis
The key to stopping procrastination starts with habits. We have a habit of doing certain things because we’ve done them before on numerous occasions. If you want to stop this then create new habits by tackling small tasks every day and gradually increasing the duration or frequency
This will build up our self-control so that it becomes easier for us to resist temptation. We’ll also find that it becomes easier for us to do the task at hand. This is because we’re not so exhausted from fighting our habits all day long
11. Use a Planner or Journal
One of the easiest ways to stop procrastination is by using an agenda, calendar, notebook, or other types of planning devices. This way, we can work out the best balance between our commitments and obligations.
We’ll also find that committing to these types of schedules will help us avoid procrastination because it creates a sense of accountability
12. Reward Yourself for Completing Tasks
It’s important to take care of ourselves at all times, not just when things are going well or if we complete a specific task. And this is why it’s important to reward yourself for completing tasks, even if they’re not big ones.
It could be something as simple as listening to your favorite song. Alternatively, you can read the next chapter of that book you’ve been meaning to get around to all day long.
There are many things that people do when they’re procrastinating which is why it’s hard for them to stop. One of these includes using their phone or social media and, if you feel like this describes you then this guide on how to avoid procrastination has been helpful.
We all want rewards in our lives because we need those moments where everything feels good; that includes when we complete tasks. So, if you’re someone who’s constantly finding themselves distracted by social media or your phone then try rewarding yourself once you finish a task
If this is something that has never crossed your mind before and it seems like an odd concept to you then think of the times where things have gone well in your life.