procrastinate (verb) – to put off intentionally and habitually the doing of something that should be doneMerriam-Webster Online Dictionary
Are you one of those people who wait until the last minute to do something … even though you know you shouldn’t? If so, then you may already be too familiar with the definition of procrastinate. If you want to break the procrastination habit, think about some of the reasons why you put things off until the last minute. After all, do you really enjoy rushing around at the last minute?
Why We Procrastinate
These are lots of reasons why we put things off. It’s tempting to delay starting projects we find unpleasant or intimidating. This is especially true for perfectionists and those with a fear of failure. (You can’t fail at a task you never start, after all.) Sometimes the decision-making process itself fuels procrastination. We get stuck gathering information or waiting for others’ opinions or weighing all the available options before making a decision. Honestly, sometimes we’re just tired of making choices and need some relaxation. Whatever the reason, there are ways to get back on track and move forward with a project.
Breaking the Habit
If a really huge project seems overwhelming, simply break it down into smaller, more manageable parts. That way, you can work on it for several hours, take a break, and then come back to it. Say, for example, you’re presenting at an important conference. Schedule a reasonable period of time to brainstorm your topic or do research, but set a definite deadline to start actually writing your presentation. Don’t let preparation turn into procrastination. Create milestones for finishing a rough draft, preparing presentation materials, practicing the presentation, getting feedback, polishing your presentation, publicizing your appearance on social media, etc. And don’t forget to leave time for making travel arrangements! Celebrate (a little) when you reach each milestone, and then move on to the next.
This approach works equally well at home. Say you have a closet that is in desperate need of a good cleaning. Break the task into manageable parts. First, take everything out of your closet. Then sort your clothing and shoes into keep, discard, or maybe piles. Commit to the decision by throwing away items that have outlived their usefulness. Planning to recycle items you no longer want or donate them to charity? Immediately put them into a box or bin, and put it in your car. That way you have them handy the next time you pass the local donation box or thrift store. And make sure that anything you put back into that closet will be used!
Unleash Your Productivity
By simply getting up and moving, you’ll be surprised how much you can get done in a short amount of time. Commit to your decisions. Set goals and keep track of accomplishments. Soon, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that you are no longer a procrastinator!
For more tips on time management and becoming more productive, check out Tips to Increase Your Productivity, by Cameryn Hutchison.