It is estimated that 20-25% of adults are ‘chronic procrastinators’, so what can be done to help?
Have you ever found yourself repeatedly putting off a task? It doesn’t matter how important it is or how quickly the deadline is approaching, you just can’t seem to get up the motivation to tackle it. Or maybe you keep telling yourself, “I’ll do it tomorrow” and can always find a reason to avoid it.
Experts define procrastination as a self-defeating behaviour pattern marked by short-term benefits and long-term costs.
It can be extremely frustrating when you find yourself procrastinating on a task. As much as you might want to get it done, it feels impossible. You can begin to put pressure on yourself, making the task feel more of a challenge than it ever was.
Common reasons for procrastination
- Lack of self-belief
- Fear of failure
- Too many distractions
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Anxiety about what happens next
5 methods to gain your focus back
Delaying a task can make you feel as though the pressure is off in the moment, but long-term will only cause more stress.
Something important to know about procrastinating is that often, once you start, you can’t stop – it is very easy to start procrastinating and it seep into other aspects of your life. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to prevent this.
Here are a few of our tips to help you:
Break the task down into smaller, more manageable tasks
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a task and not know where to begin. By stripping a task down into smaller, more straightforward tasks, you can get a much better idea of how to approach it.
It also can help you to create a realistic timeline and possibly simplify the process.
Whatever it is, just start
Sometimes, you need to take the first step and just get started. You might find, once you have begun, that it’s not as bad as you set up in your head.
You can also decide a set amount of time to spend on it initially. Set a timer for as little as 15 minutes, and when the time is up, evaluate where you are at. Do you want to continue? How much have you completed? How long do you think this is going to take? Use this information to create a clear plan.
Give yourself some motivation
Sometimes we just don’t want to do something. Whether it’s difficult, time-consuming or simply boring, it still needs to be done. Consider giving yourself rewards when you reach certain points.
These rewards could be as small as a 5-minute break or your favourite snack. Whatever, the reward you pick, make sure you don’t reward yourself for not completing them. We know it’s tempting, but the action means nothing if you can have the reward either way.
Become aware of your surroundings
We are constantly surrounded by things that are more interesting than the task at hand, ready to distract. Look at your workspace and consider if the following things are distracting you:
- Your phone – it’s hard to ignore the notifications pouring in from social media, and easy to be drawn into infinite scrolling. Consider using tools such as focus modes on your phone to control what you can see during work hours and reserve the scrolling for lunch.
- Music – for many people, music can help them focus, however for some, it can be even more distracting. Take note of how you react to types of music playing.
- Mess – tidy desk, tidy mind. Being surrounded by mess means you can’t focus on what you need to. Try to keep things tidy and clean and limit what is on your desk (your coworkers will like you for this one too!)
- People – are you being distracted by people around you? Obviously, there are times where you will need to talk with others at work, but if you find yourself getting pulled away from your work by office chit-chat often, you may need to set some boundaries with yourself. Remember, you won’t get in trouble for not being best friends with everyone in your work, but you might if your work suffers because of it.
Look for support from others
If you’re struggling with a task, don’t be afraid to ask for advice from someone else who might know. There are two outcomes to this; they help you and you learn; or they also don’t understand and there is a bigger issue to be addressed out of your control. Win-win, right?
Did we help you out? We’d love to hear about your experiences with procrastination on our socials…