Studies show around 15-20 percent of adults are chronic procrastinators but many more procrastinate to a lesser degree. It’s a widespread problem and it’s not going away any time soon.
If you have problems with procrastination, it could be making you feel stressed and making your performance at work or school suffer. You might start to think negative thoughts and even develop mental health problems like anxiety.
But you don’t need to worry, because there are lots of tools and tips you can learn to help you stop procrastinating. Even if one doesn’t work, others will. Keep reading for the most effective tips that will help you manage your energy and time better.
1. Create An Effective To-do List
Choosing to procrastinate because you have no idea what to work on first is a common problem. There could be two issues at play here:
- You are not prioritizing your tasks
- You are feeling overwhelmed by your tasks
You need to learn how to create a to-do list and manage your time the right way. Start by listing every single one of your tasks. Some might be as simple as “change kitchen light bulb” or “buy stamps” so you can write these as one item each.
But some tasks might involve several steps. For example, “finish work project” or “plan Mom’s birthday party” demand more than one action. Split out these big tasks into single actions on your to-do list to make them more manageable.
Next, rearrange your to-do list in priority order. If possible, only put the three most important tasks on your daily to-do list because the idea of too many tasks is overwhelming. Start with the easiest task first as this will motivate you to tackle the second and third.
An effective to-do list should make you feel like you are achieving more than you are. This will help you stop procrastinating because you want to keep experiencing the high of ticking off more tasks.
2. Make Better Goals
Let’s say you make weekend plans with a friend but they get sick and have to cancel. You now have a whole weekend free! But without a plan, you end up sitting on your couch eating pizza all day.
You need to set goals. Without them, you end up procrastinating and doing nothing worthwhile.
Your goals can be health, work, travel, education, relationship, financial, or hobby-related. The key is to make goals that meet the SMART requirements. That means your goals are:
Saying you want to “travel more” is too vague. But saying you want to travel to six new cities this year is an example of a SMART goal you can focus on.
3. Set Deadlines For Yourself
When your boss tells you to finish a project by five o’clock, you’re less likely to procrastinate. You don’t want to let them down and deal with the consequences of not completing the project.
Personal projects are often less time-sensitive. That means you don’t have the motivation you need to follow through and stop procrastinating. But you need to remember that if you procrastinate on your own projects, you’re still letting yourself down.
Set deadlines for your own tasks that you would like to finish. Write it on your calendar and treat it as if it’s a real deadline.
4. Eliminate Distractions
There’s a good reason why far fewer adults in the 1970s were chronic procrastinators but now they make up one-fifth of the population. Smartphone notifications, advertisements, and video games are all new distractions. It’s difficult to get anything done when so many other things are pulling you in different directions.
If this describes your struggle, there are plenty of productivity apps that can stop you from becoming distracted. They can turn off your internet connection for a set period and limit notifications. Some also have special timers so you can focus on work while taking regular breaks too.
5. Hold Yourself Accountable
Does setting deadlines yourself not work because you’re too easy on yourself? Then you need to hold yourself accountable in a different way.
Tell a family member, friend, or colleague about your plans or tasks and the date you are going to complete them. Ask them to check in every so often to see how you are doing and show them evidence of your progress. It’s more difficult to procrastinate when you have loved ones that are rooting for you.
6. Take Breaks
How do you eat an elephant? In one big gulp or one bite at a time? Of course, it’s the latter.
Trying to complete too much in too short a time frame will make you feel tired and you will burn out. You will end up procrastinating because you won’t have the mental or physical energy to complete the task. Remembering to take a break every so often will increase your stamina and help you finish what you started.
7. Give Yourself Rewards
When you’re at school, you get a reward for completing a project. Your teacher might have given you a sticker and your parents might’ve stuck your work to the fridge.
But when you’re an adult, there is no fanfare for completing a task. The lack of reward might even be one reason why you procrastinate.
So the next time you finish a task, reward yourself with an appropriate present. Depending on the difficulty and time spent on the task, it could be anything from a 30-minute nap to a meal at a fancy restaurant. This will motivate you to stop procrastinating because if you don’t finish then you won’t get a reward.
Stop Procrastinating With These Time-saving Tips
Procrastinating is a bad habit and the best way to stop procrastinating is to find new habits. Whether you use the reward system, take breaks, or change your mindset, there is a method that will work for you. Soon you will be reaping the benefits of precrastination and you will never want to return to your old ways!
There are so many cool and useful lifestyle hacks out there that can help you work smarter, not harder, and get a better work-life balance. Browse our lifestyle articles for more of these hacks!