How to Stop Procrastinating: Practical Ways to Start Getting Things Done

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Have you ever had a task you wanted to accomplish but decided to delay it numerous times for a reason even you were unsure of? Tiredness, laziness, not feeling in the mood*ness*?

It’s not just you, it’s the same with most of us.

Procrastination is the subtle act of putting off, delaying or deferring an action to a later time in life. According to researcher and speaker Piers Steel, 95 percent of us procrastinate to some degree.

The problem with procrastination is however not in the time wasted but in the person and in the act it affects. It has led to the drowning of many goals/plans/projects in life and this is because the world is now a hub full of master procrastinators who pend what they need to do for some 8-30 minutes pleasure they see on T.V, on social media, with friends, on the internet or just thinking about whether or not to do it.

How however can one stop this act from encroaching our lives and how can we avoid procrastination from eating into our dreams, goals and negativity affecting our lives?

But before that, let’s discuss why people actually procrastinate.

Why Do People Procrastinate

There are various reasons why people procrastinate in their doings and delay what needs to be done and some of these reasons are;

The love for instant gratification:

So many times when we concept ideas in our head and minds, the body finds instant gratification in picking up that phone, chatting and laughing away time on social media rather than writing a book or solving a difficult physics assignment.

Too much concepting

This is directed to the creatives, at so many points when creatives have tasks to do – we tend to design the outlook of such projects and while sometimes, this is easy – many times it’s not and we tend to lose ourselves in over-thinking things that we actually just end up postponing them for later.

Laziness

The human body is by nature lazy and really doesn’t like stress. Well, in most cases, work is stressful and so the body doesn’t like that and it tends to put off what is more important/difficult for the things less important and less valuable.

Lack of Clarity

So many times, we know that we want to do things but just don’t know how to go about it and are left to stand-still for a long period of time doing nothing but wondering and asking the sky questions on how to get it done.

Take the self-test quiz, Are You a Procrastinator? and identify if you are and how much you procrastinate.

How to Stop Procrastinating and Start Getting Things Done

Map Out Your Day/Work

He who fails to plan, is planning to fail

Benjamin Franklin

Having a well-laid plan for one’s day is a really good way to keep one’s mind conscious of what needs to be achieved before and during the day.

One major reason people procrastinate towards their goals; duties is that they just don’t know what to do with their day!

Most people around the world wake up each day to Notification sounds and once they pick up their mobile phones, they just keep on scrolling, liking, reading and getting through time without minding what they really should have.

To stop procrastination, it’s a prerequisite to have a laid down plan on how you plan intend to spend your day.

On mapping your day, there are various tool one can work with – the physical calendar on your wall can be used as a checklist on the things you plan to achieve with your day.

I personally make use of a notepad application on my phone to get stuffs noted; Color Note is my best pick because it has an in-built check-list feature which can be customized and updated to my taste. Others applications you can work with include a PC’s Sticky Note, One Note and a whole lot of other productivity tools.

Focus on The Most Important Stuffs first

So many a times, we tend to focus on things that are less productive or yields less and when we finally decide to work on the stuffs that really are important, we’ve been exerted of our energy while focusing on the things that have less value or makes us achieve less.

This triggers procrastination and we many times want to postpone the things that really should’ve been done till the next time.

Focusing on the most important and pushing away wants helps one stay organized because this way, you know once you’re able to take up this challenge, the next is less difficult and so is the next and the next. This also helps to build momentum to keep on working and to continuing what they have been started.

In my case – I tend to do the things that matter most to me in the morning e.g. writing poems, preparing job details etc. because at this point I’m fresh out the oven and haven’t really done much or stressed myself so I can really take on the drudging tasks.

Be Purposeful with Your Doings

Just as the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3

“To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose

Bible

You should be intentional with your doings, know what it right for each moment or period of each day.

Being intentional about your day keeps you active with your plans and you are obliged to carry them out. You should not be watching T.V or chatting on Facebook by 9 a.m. when your schedule or to-do list implies that you should be reading Sydney Sheldon at this time.

This is a great way to stay up-bound with your tasks for a day.

If it is to work; well – face it, chat with friends; well – face it, just do things with the intention of being purposeful about them.

Be purposeful with your how you spend your time because this is truly all you have control over as a human.

When you stay intentional regarding how you use and spend your time, you’d learn to focus on the things that really matter and sieve those that don’t out the basket of your head.

Ask yourself the question; Is this (things I’m about to do) right for this moment or is there something else?

Even though distractions might feel interesting because well, they are distractions, you should ask whether or not they’d help you in anyway asides from giving you momentary pleasure and nothing more!

Break Your Work into Chunks

Having your works in chunked down into smaller size would make it seem like a more doable task and makes you want to do them.

For example, if you have a tiring homework to do but don’t want to procrastinate doing it. You can break each processes into your schedule and take the tasks one at a time. This way it seems much more doable and easier to achieve.

Have Breaks

Trying not to procrastinate your work doesn’t imply that there should be no time for fun or leisure in your schedule though.
Having a leisurely period in your schedule is actually one of the things that makes you want to have one because this was you’d know that there is actually time for play but now is just not that time.

Take the first step

Taking the first step in this context is not just starting with stage one of the first to-do you have in your list, to us, taking the first step is actually completing that first to-do in.

Oh yeah – remember to make this the most difficult/important thing on your list

What this does is to motivate you; since you’ve been able to check 1 out of maybe 7 stuffs/projects as DONE on your list of stuffs to do, you’ll definitely get a feel of accomplishment and sense of pride not because you are moving as you planned the day but because you actually just beat procrastination as its best game – delay!

Getting the first step done puts your mind in a constant state of reminder, you did the first one, you can do the next and this is really the type of motivation we need to get sh*t done!

Stay Committed with your plans

Disciplining yourself when it comes to tasks will help you to proactively tackle your work and get things that needs to be done. It’s okay to set a plan for the day and to start work on the first two but get tired after a while. It is discipline that would keep in the game and till the finish line.

Avoid Distractions

As at the moment of my writing this – I had to chase the kids out of my work-space because they were really noisy

Distractions are basically obstacles to attention or are various forms that provokes pleased interest and distracts you from something – in this case, from working on/achieving your plan.

That noise from your neighbors, kids, family members, the telephone constantly coming up with notifications every now and then, the beep-bop from the in-house parrot or even your beat-boxing.

The aim of distractions is just to divide your attention and when this takes over – one gets lured to dropping what they are working on and focus their attention to these noisy chatters. Sometimes, they come in annoying forms which will drive you mad and others; in pleasurable things such as a pizza-treat, an interesting T.V show and so much more.

It definitely happens to everyone, at some point while working you remind yourself of that friend celebrating something and in a bid to send them your wishes, you get carried away by your notification box and just keep on spending more and more time enriching Zuckerberg while pending your own work for later.

Some tips on how to avoid distractions while working include;

  • Making use of the Do Not Disturb feature on your mobile or keeping your mobile device away from you totally. (I personally just go on Airplane Mode once working).
  • Working in a serene location with less noise coming from external bodies.
  • Using ear-plugs while working: I noticed this works really well when I write, I just tune to my solemn work music and am able to concentrate on what I’m doing and tune myself into oblivion from what’s going on around me.

What’s sadder still is that in situations we are distracted and fall for such distractions, when we remember that we actually were busy with something prior to being distracted, there is every possibility we just drop such work for something else totally.
(I know it has happened to me in numerous situations)

Set Timers for Yourself

After earmarking a to-do list for yourself and the activities intended to accomplish, setting a Timer for each activity is a really useful tip to staying organized but it might be a tedious thing to do too.

Gmail-Tasks has this feature on their platform that automatically prompts users when there’s a new task to be done and the other should have been completed.

Setting a timer helps one stay up-and-doing with their tasks. I personally make use of the in-built feature in Color Note for this as I get prompted once it’s time for a new task to be done.

I use this to monitor other activities such as moments periods to make research, time for social media, time to make updates on social media pages and so much more.

One amazing use of this is that it brings you back home when you might’ve fallen out of track with what you intend to get done during the day as the alarm goes, you get a sudden eureka moment and are forced to go back to check what’s on the drawing board.

It’s really might be a tedious thing to do but I am sure organizing all of these won’t take up to one hour of the 18+ hours you spend active.

Get Rewards for Yourself

You remember the way the body loves instant gratification, right?

Well, you can trick it into loving something better, a reward.

If you complete a task or various tasks, take time reward yourself with something, such as a great meal.

Ensure you soak in the moment and enjoy how good it fees to be a doer and not a procrastinator.

Ask for Someone to Help You

When one intends to commit to a particular activity and doesn’t want to procrastinate on it, getting another person aware of such goal is a way to avoid procrastination.

Have a close pal or a family member to ask you of it.

There is an online tool Procraster, it helps that can with stats, task monitoring and can help you to self-monitor.

I am sure these tips must have been helpful in some way because they definitely were to me; some more than others and I am sure they will be to you too.

If there are other means to stopping or avoid procrastination, kindly share them.

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