Procrastination is the act of delaying and putting something off until the very last minute. Now, a lot of us procrastinate for various reasons – whether it’s laziness, disorganization, anxiety, lack of discipline, poor time management, or just thriving under pressure – but all of us are ultimately aware that procrastinating isn’t good for us. In fact, chronic procrastination can lead to anxiety issues, fatigue, lowered self-esteem and more, according to Leaderonomics.
Yet no matter the consequences and the incredible amount of stress procrastinating causes, for someone who is a professional procrastinator, it has all but become a lifestyle and an art in how to avoid things. And with all the current technology and apps at our disposal, it makes it that much easier to procrastinate and put things off in an academic, personal, or professional setting. But there are ways to help create a procrastination-free environment and gradually ease out of the habit.
1. Download some anti-procrastination apps
With social media and games easily accessible at our fingertips, it’s very easy to become distracted and spiral into a never-ending hole of tweets, photos, posts, and snaps – losing the next few hours of time when you could have been productive. But now, companies are creating apps for phones and computers that’ll help you maintain focus and stay on task. There are apps like Self-Control, Anti-Social and Freedom for PC users to block out distracting websites, apps, and games for an allotted amount of time of your choosing. There are also apps like Concentrate for the Mac that maximize focus while shifting between tasks and offering different tool settings for each task. And then there are apps like FocusBooster and Time Out for PC and Mac users that give interval breaks after a set amount of time during the task to allow the user to relax, recharge, and refocus.
2. Create a space for productivity
A change in your environment – or a different environment all together – can help prevent procrastination. Create a space that is absent of distractions and inspires productivity. For example, if you work in your bedroom and all you want to do is sleep, it’s time to find a new place to work. Create a space that energizes you, while working in a timeframe that you feel like you can focus and accomplish the most. If you start getting bored in your space, try something different like changing rooms, working outdoors, or go to a coffee shop. Also, if silence in your workspace is too much to bare, try creating a power playlist that gets you motivated to work, the same way a gym-goer does when listening to their music.
3. Lean on your support system
Build a support system of friends, family, or colleagues who are hard workers and have the qualities you seek for yourself. By surrounding yourself with people that inspire you, you are more likely to be influenced by them and pick up some of their habits and behaviors. Also, by having a support system, you can have a friend to help you through the process of staying on task while holding each other accountable as you each progress towards your goals and plans. Ultimately, having a support system can help you keep on track when you have people to inspire you and push you forward as you work together.
4. Pace yourself
Having a massive workload can be intimidating, and the urge to put it off can be strong, but the important thing is to breathe and remember you don’t have to do everything in one sitting… unless you procrastinated. A great way to avoid feeling overwhelmed and procrastinating is to organize your tasks by importance, and break them down into small steps that don’t seem so overwhelming. For example, when writing a paper, break down the process of writing it step-by-step by deciding on a topic, researching, making an outline, writing a draft, and so forth. Another good way to pace yourself is to give yourself a schedule and break it down by days or hours. Make sure to include breaks in between productivity to avoid burning yourself out from overworking.
5. Know yourself
Know yourself well enough to know why you procrastinate, and then confront it. And know yourself well enough to understand what motivates you, and determine whether incentives work for you. If so, when you complete a certain task, you could reward yourself with a trip to your favorite restaurant or your favorite show. Make sure if you put yourself on a timeline to stick to it – and if not, take responsibility for it. At the same time, don’t be too hard on yourself; learn from the experience and do better next time. Ultimately, it is up to you and whether or not you want to change your procrastinating ways. But with these tips and tricks, it may make it a little easier to get out the habit.