8 Ways to Reduce Procrastination
Do you tend to put things off until the last minute? Maybe you lack motivation or interest. Maybe you get distracted by something more interesting or that takes less effort such as playing games, scrolling through social media, watching videos, or browsing items on online shopping platforms. Procrastinating on tasks can lead to increased stress such as when the to-do list becomes longer or a hard due date approaches. Have you found yourself scrambling to finish a project at the last minute while you consume energy drinks to give a boost and unhealthy foods to save time so you can meet the deadline? Or is the quality of your life or living environment suffering due to all those delayed tasks? Sometimes our procrastination habits may be tied to increased symptoms of depression such as lack of motivation or energy or symptoms of anxiety including apprehension to complete certain stressful tasks or increased stress with a growing list. The following are some tips to help break the habit of procrastination:
1. Give Yourself a Little Push: Sometimes the hardest part can be making the first effort towards completing the task. Make the conscious decision to start something instead of falling into old patterns and habits. If it helps to have some external push, you could set a reminder on your phone or ask a friend or family member to call/text you as a reminder.
2. Make a List: Sometimes when we keep the list of tasks in our head it can seem more daunting. Writing down your tasks allows you to better evaluate what you must do, prioritize, and cross them off as they are accomplished.
3. Complete Smaller Tasks First: If you have several tasks that only take a few minutes to accomplish, try completing them first. This can reinforce your motivation to keep going as you are quickly able to cross items off the to do list.
4. Break Bigger Projects into Smaller Tasks: Sometimes we may avoid bigger projects due to feeling overwhelmed or not having enough time to complete it all in one setting. If you break these larger projects down into bite-sized chunks, it becomes easier to tackle.
5. Get the Difficult Stuff Out of The Way: It may help to start with tasks you are dreading. Once they are complete, you may notice reduced stress making it easier to focus on the other tasks.
6. Reduce Distractions: If you tend to procrastinate real-world tasks by using technology, it is a good idea to schedule time to complete your tasks and put away your phone and tablet and keep the TV turned off. You might even put your phone on Do Not Disturb or silent mode if you tend to get a lot of text messages or social media notifications.
7. Make it Fun: If you must complete a project or task that you are not necessarily looking forward to, it can help to pair it with something that you enjoy. If possible, turn
on some music or listen to an audiobook or podcast. You could also turn certain activities into mindfulness practices.
8. Reward Yourself: Often, we can be hard on ourselves for procrastinating which can exacerbate depression. Instead, find a way to reward yourself for accomplishing tasks. Crossing items off the list can be satisfying enough for some. You could try making a game for yourself. Let’s say you have been really looking forward to watching a new movie. You could decide on several tokens or stickers you need to collect before watching the movie. As you complete each task on your list, you give yourself a token or sticker. You could make different tasks worth more tokens than others to boost your motivation to complete those specific tasks. While this may seem silly, it makes the process fun and creates an extra level of motivation.
If you are finding that your procrastination habits are causing significant issues in your life and ability to function please seek out support from a professional therapist or life coach.