When a deadline looms, sometimes the only thing we want to do is check our emails, go on Facebook or stare blankly into space. Procrastination is productivity’s worst enemy, and it could even encourage anxiety in the long run, as you may have to rush to complete your work, or you could even miss deadlines. Here are seven top tips to help you banish your procrastination demons.
Start the hardest task first
‘Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible.’ – George Claude Lorimer
Do you have a deliverable that you’ve been putting off? If so, then you should pay special attention to this first tip. To be a proactive worker, dealing with the hardest piece of work first thing on Monday morning will stop it from hanging over you for the rest of the week. A recent study has discovered that the average person is the most alert at 10am on Monday morning, which means that the mornings are actually the best time to tackle the hardest work on your list.
‘You may delay, but time will not.’ – Benjamin Franklin
Many of us are unwillingly addicted to Facebook. And for that very reason, bosses have been shaking their head at their employee’s screens since Facebook’s boom in the year of 2007. But do not fear – there is a solution. You can block the site on your work computer by putting on a lock for yourself. Yes really. StayFocused is a Google Chrome extension that you can use to block certain sites while you’re at work. Come in every day at 9am and block Facebook for the rest of the day. Problem solved!
‘The essence of self-discipline is to do the important thing rather than the urgent thing.’ – Barry Werner
Sometimes urgent work can creep up on us, so much so that we forget to look after ourselves. If you have an urgent deliverable, make sure to take the time out to drink water. Water is not only key to hydration of the body; it also helps the function of the brain. When we have drunk enough water, our productivity and focus can improve. Water filters that supply minerals on top can also benefit to our health and wellbeing even during working towards urgent deadlines.
Take control of your future
‘Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now.’ – Denis Waitley
It is a misconception that procrastination represents the fear of being wrong, Denis Waitley would argue that it’s actually due to the fear of being right. If you do well on that piece of work or deliverable, that brings an enormous responsibility with it. It’s harder to be successful than it is to be mediocre. Mediocrity evokes a sense of comfort, an acceptance of the mediocre, lulling us into ‘an easier life’. That’s why we procrastinate.
‘I try to procrastinate, if I can, productively, like I’ll work on something else as procrastination. Or I take a walk. Because often I find, if you get out, more things come to you.’ – Noah Baumbach
Procrastination doesn’t have to be fundamentally bad. It can also come in the form of relaxation. You may be finding your urge to procrastinate is due to sitting at your computer for too long without reprieve. When this feeling comes over you, make sure to relax and get away from your screen. Here are some ideas of what you could do when procrastination hits:
- Go for a walk around the office floor for five minutes
- Make a cup of tea
- Daydream out of a window
- If you have a balcony or you’re on the ground floor – go outside
Be warned that you can only do this every hour or every hour and a half. If you do it more than that then you’ll be at risk of wasting useful time.
Organise, organise, organise
‘The really happy people are those who have broken the chains of procrastination, those who find satisfaction in doing the job at hand. They’re full of eagerness, zest, and productivity. You can be, too.’ -Norman Vincent Peale
Are you procrastinating because you haven’t planned your work day properly? Without a clear objective, you may feel lost. To do lists don’t cut it for those of us that have busy jobs, with changing priorities every day. Luckily, a new app called Evernote can get you organised. It works by acting as an information base for your notes and emails. If you go premium for £35 a year, you can share notes with your colleagues so they can copy them or add to them, or keep them password protected if they’re private.
Change your environment
‘Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill’ – Christopher Parker
Changing your space is one of the ways that you can be proactive about cracking down on procrastination. For those of you that are lucky enough to be self-employed or work from home, playing with your space is an easy feat. However if you work in an office, you may not have the privilege of being able to dictate where you can sit and what kind of office environment you have. You can still take steps to improve your space, to relax you. Pictures that make you smile are a good way to make the desk yours, and inspirational quotes can spur you on.