How to Overcome Procrastination

You have a pressing deadline… Oh, but there is one more day left!

You must visit your aunt… There is a lifetime left to do that!

Laundry to be done, papers to be searched, skills to learned, places to be seen… The list could be long or short, but nothing gets done due to one malady most of us suffer from: procrastination. While some can break out of temporary lethargy and get things done, some may come under the vice grip of lethargy.

Procrastination refers to the tendency of postponing an intended action infinitely. Though the definition sounds endearing, it can lead to several problems due to unfinished tasks that can affect one’s performance and disrupt relationships.

But it is not the end of the road. Procrastination can be overcome:

Recognize: Acknowledge that you have a problem completing tasks on time. Some of the markers are: finishing low priority tasks first; constantly getting distracted and unable to focus on important tasks; not clearing up your to-do list periodically; giving mood or time as an excuse for not doing something.

Understand: Though on the face of it, laziness may seem to be the underlying reason for procrastination, there could be other valid reasons: the task at hand is unpleasant or boring; you are disorganized or overwhelmed; you unable to decide fast or feel under-skilled.

Be motivated: Procrastination is a deep-rooted habit and any effort to overcome it can succeed only if you are self-driven. That in itself can be challenging, but here are some tips to fight putting off work:

  • Reward yourself.
  • Get a peer to motivate and assess your progress.
  • Identify the consequences of not doing the task.
  • Work out the loss to yourself or the person dependent on you.

Act on your plan

Get organized: Keep a list of jobs at hand and keep ticking them off as you complete them. As the list becomes shorter, the motivation will also increase.

Break it up: When a task seems overwhelming or complicated, break it into smaller, easier-to-manage parts.

Prioritize the list: Identify the jobs that are urgent and those that have a longer deadline. Estimate the time taken for each and slot timelines for them so that by the time the deadline approaches, you are in a position to complete it.

Schedule and juggle: If you are holding up a task because it is unpleasant or boring, juxtapose it with an interesting task or schedule a break after it. This way, there is something to look forward to at the end of doing it.

If you are a habitual procrastinator, the effort to break the habit may produce its own set of hurdles. But there is nothing one cannot achieve when there is a will. The satisfaction when a job is done is a reward in itself. All the best in your endeavor to become a new you!