Why do something today that you can put off till tomorrow, right? WRONG! Procrastination is the number one reason for inefficiencies and low productivity in both the workplace and school/college. While it’s ok to procrastinate once in a while, letting it become a chronic habit will not only affect your work habits and increase stress but it will also decrease the quality of your work and damage your rep among your peers. Here are ten ways that will help you dial down the procrastination and become a better, efficient worker.
1. Keep your environment clutter free
First things first, get organized. A dirty and cluttered desk can increase your anxiety levels without you consciously realizing it, and this anxiety will only make you want to procrastinate more. Start with a clean slate! Organize in such a way so that you know where everything is and little time is lost while looking for stationery, documents etc. Also, make sure your supplies are well stocked and that you don’t have to go from one place to another looking for that stapler or pencil sharpener. File your documents neatly so that identification is quick and easy.
2. Commit to staying away from digital distractions
You know what I’m talking about. Put down that phone right now. In fact, log out of your Facebook/Twitter too and close that YouTube tab. It’s no secret that our phones and the social media are huge distractions- isn’t it tempting to have a look at 9gag for just five minutes? Well, those five minutes will stretch out to an hour so it will wise to know who your procrastination demons are. Keep your phone in your drawer and resist the temptation to check it while you’re working. Let your friends know what your work/study timings are so that they know better than to disturb you as well. Only tend to personal matters or some recreational browsing during your allotted break times.
3. Make a clear schedule with timelines
Create the urgency to act! Don’t overestimate the time you have and don’t underestimate the job at hand. Visualise your goals and break down the project into mini steps that will detail what to do and when to do it. Also, assign a deadline to each of these steps so that your course of action is laid out in front of you. Keep your timelines doable yet competitive at the same time so that you can create that sense of urgency that is essential to keeping procrastination at bay. Even if it looks silly, make copies of your schedule and put them up wherever you know they will catch your eye most often. This will compel you to start work sooner rather than later.
4. Work in short, powerful intervals
There’s no need to start work at 8 in the morning and not move from your desk till 8 in the night (unless of course that works for you!). Working in short intervals will keep you alert and prevent your attention from wandering off someplace else. Work for an hour, then take a break for twenty minutes or so to freshen up. Some people can work efficiently for two to three hours at at time while some feel frazzled after only an hour, so its entirely subjective and up to you to set the optimal time interval.
5. Award yourself for the little accomplishments
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy… didn’t I say a little procrastination can sometimes be good? When you complete the steps you set out for yourself, take a well deserved break and award yourself for a job well done. Go check the fridge for some snacks, evolve your Hungry Shark or log in to your Facebook- whatever your guilty pleasure is.
6. Ask a friend to help you out!
Telling a friend about your goals and plans to stop procrastinating can be helpful. Your friend (or friends) can check in on you from time to time to make sure you’re doing everything as per your schedule. This tip works best with people who aren’t your best friends because we don’t feel as embarrassed with close friends as we do with relatively formal ones when admitting to not having done any work. Your friend can also keep reminding you of your goals and why it is important for you to stay on track.
7. Keep it simple
Don’t over complicate your goals and work conditions. If you’re waiting for the perfect time to get started or for the perfect variables/mood to set in, well you’re in for that old, nasty ride we call inefficiency. There is never a perfect time nor will the variables ever be perfect. Yes starting work at the optimal time is important but you can decide what that time is instead of simply waiting for it. Simplify and go over your goals again and don’t get caught up in too much planning.
8. Visualize failure
Again create that sense of urgency and this time use fear as your ally. Visualizing failure can help you avoid using excuses and be completely honest with yourself. Write down how you will feel if you fail to complete your work or do a poor job. Be brutally honest in your evaluation of the future and about the repercussions of lazing around- this will instantly motivate you to stay on track with work.
9. Don’t depend on multitasking
Too often we overestimate our own efficiency and depend on the mystical powers of multitasking to get things done. In reality, it is hard for people to focus on more than two things at the same time so multitasking while already under a time crunch might get the job done but won’t get you any stellar recommendations (unless of course, you’re a genius. In which case you shouldn’t be reading this in the first place).
10. Just do it already!
Planning and detailing won’t make a difference if you don’t actually TAKE some action! Even if your schedule isn’t very comprehensive or your goals not well highlighted, you can still accomplish all that is required of you and more if you take action when the time is right (and I’ve already established that you make the time “right”!). Don’t be fooled into a false sense of security, laziness and excuses by reminiscing about past accomplishments but instead focus on today and take that first step!