How to beat procrastination | The Voice Online

How to beat procrastination | The Voice Online

BE STRONG: Keep your goal in mind when you feel yourself coming off track

IT’S MONDAY afternoon and you’re working hard to complete a project on time before the 5.30pm deadline. But you’re still some way from the finish line. And you’re angry at yourself for not starting the project sooner, despite your intentions to. You ask yourself why you lost focus and why you didn’t start the project sooner.

All of us put off doing tasks, especially when we’re tired or have other things we need to attend to.

However, procrastination is something that is a regular habit for a good number of us. Many of us are prone to this habit when it’s time to go to the gym, get the house clean or deal with the household finances, for example.


Among the common diversions to avoid completing an important task are doing something that isn’t a priority, such as watching TV, eating, playing, sleeping or even cleaning.

Then there are the mental excuses that say, “I’ll do it tomorrow” or, “I do my best work late at night, I’ll do it then.”

Since you have promised yourself that you will be good, you can escape work and enjoy guilt-free play.

But procrastinating can leave you feeling guilty and even depressed at times. You will always feel better after you get things done.

Some psychologists believe that people who procrastinate have a faulty sense of time – they think they have more time to do things than they actually do.

Other experts say that procrastination is linked to difficulties managing stress.

The thinking here, is that when a task looks tough, difficult or boring, or is outside one’s comfort zone, people procrastinators are more likely to put it off.

If you struggle with putting things off, here are five simple ways to get up and get you back on track.

1. Determine why you delay working on your task
Is it a specific task that you’re putting off, or do you procrastinate everything on your plate? What is it about this task that stops you from doing it?
– Are you scared of failing?
– Do you fear that you’ll fall short of what’s expected of you?
– Are you just lazy?
– Are you resentful of whoever put this obligation upon you?

By evaluating the task, you can better understand what’s holding you back, so you can complete the task more efficiently.

2. Make a plan
When you make a step-by-step plan, you are setting a specific schedule and timeline to complete the task. Write this plan down on paper. Writing this list will help you better organise your thoughts, and determine the small steps you need to take to accomplish your goals.

Give yourself attainable tasks on a daily, weekly or hourly timetable, as it applies to your situation. You are less likely to be overwhelmed when you are faced with small, manageable steps.

3. Be realistic
Be realistic about what you can achieve in your plan. Doing so makes each step clearly attainable and you’ll be less likely to put it off. Knowing your limits will make your goals seem easier and less of a mountain to climb.

4. Just begin
It sounds simple enough, but few heed this simple tip. Most procrastinators find themselves prone to delaying the start of the task because it seems too overwhelming. Instead, they stress and worry during the final moments before it’s due.

No matter how large or insurmountable the task may seem, beginning with even a small action will build momentum. Simply beginning also tends to put the task into perspective and makes it seem more possible than ever.

5. Take breaks
Taking scheduled breaks while working on your task refreshes your body and mind. If you go for a 10-minute walk or work on a Sudoku puzzle, you’ll feel re-energised, and you will be in a better frame of mind to forge on.

Breaks, while refreshing, should be taken in moderation; you certainly don’t want to use breaks as an excuse to lapse back into procrastination.

Procrastinating is an ugly habit that many of us fall into. Luckily, this bad habit can be overcome, and if you are prone to procrastination you can become more proactive and productive. There is no magic solution for tackling procrastination, other than to take action.

If you follow these five tips, practice them frequently, and with some time and patience, you’ll find yourself getting more done, more often.

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