Procrastination – the art of avoidance

Procrastination…the art of avoiding a task, usually by doing something utterly pointless.

Wikipedia’s definition states:

‘Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished by a certain deadline. It could be further stated as a habitual or intentional delay of starting or finishing a task despite knowing it might have negative consequences.’

I’m certainly familiar with that feeling of panic when I’m staring at a blank word document, fully aware of the time ticking away, towards the deadline. And then comes the influx of guilt – why didn’t I start this SOONER?

Procrastination can feel like a never-ending cycle, but we have four tips that can significantly help you to stop procrastinating and start achieving!

1. 15-minute chunks

Starting is always the hardest part. Instead of dwelling on the total number of hours you’re about to work for, try to spend just 15 minutes on it. Telling yourself you’ve only got to aim for 15 minutes, will make the task seem much less daunting, and you’ll most likely end up spending much longer than the initial allocated 15 minutes, because you’ve made the start and will be on a roll!

2. Choose your environment

Pick a workspace that works for you. Some people find that when working in public spaces such as coffee shops, this makes them feel more motivated. If this is the case for you, then work to your strengths – in your chosen environment. It is also important to minimise distraction, and this usually comes in the form of removing your phone. Unfortunately, our phones are incredibly good at keeping us off task but removing it from your space will limit this.

3. Write a small to-do list

Who else is guilty of writing a to do list longer than their arm? I am so guilty of writing out a to-list, which is about 20 bullet points long, and more often than not, I won’t even get a third of the way through it. They key here is to write a list with a maximum of 5 tasks, this will make your day seem much more manageable, and in turn will put you off procrastinating. Not only will it stop you from avoiding the list, but it will also provide you with a greater sense of achievement once you have worked your way through it! It’s all about not setting yourself up to fail.

4. Stop multitasking

Multitasking isn’t at all helpful for you procrastinators! It’s very easy to become overwhelmed when starting and stopping multiple tasks at once. In fact, we as humans aren’t even very good at it. So stop trying! Instead try to stick to one task at a time, and allow for plenty of short rest breaks, this will essentially ‘reset your attention’ and will increase your productivity.

Procrastination is normal, so don’t worry, you aren’t alone. It’s just about working to your strengths, and not setting yourself up to fail. Good luck!

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