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Procrastination is an enemy that we all face from time to time. Unfortunately, no matter how long you put it off, the work that you have to get done will need to be addressed eventually. By procrastinating, however, you’re often creating further problems for yourself, and if you allow work to pile up, you may have to cut into valuable free time in order to meet important deadlines. Luckily, there are some proven techniques for fighting against procrastination and encouraging yourself to be productive.
Figure Out Why You’re Procrastinating
One of the most effective ways to battle procrastination is to determine what it is that’s holding you up. Procrastination comes in all shapes and sizes. Maybe you’re not excited about the project at hand, maybe the task you need to focus on isn’t a high priority for you or maybe you’re simply afraid of failing. Once you figure out why you’re not engaging with your work, it makes it easier to mentally get through the block and move forward.
Set Small Goals
Sometimes we’re afraid to take the first step because we’re worried about the 1,000 steps it will take to complete the journey. Looking at the big picture can be overwhelming, so it’s a good idea to break up a task into smaller mini tasks. By divvying up your work into bite-sized chunks, not only do you make it more manageable, but you’re also better able to track your progress towards your overall goal. Additionally, if you’re having a particularly hard time finding the motivation to keep working, feel free to reward yourself after you complete each of your mini tasks.
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Make a Timeline for Completion
Remember back in school when you had to write a paper and, thinking you had all the time in the world, you put off the whole essay until the day before it was due? More often than not, putting off the entirety of your work until the final deadline results in a last-minute panic. Once you’ve broken down your work into mini tasks, create a timeline for each task so that you can incrementally complete your work. Simply by having a timeline and sticking to it, you can keep yourself on track and preserve forward momentum.
Have Someone to Hold You Accountable
If you have a hard time being a self-starter, then find someone who will hold your feet to the fire. Designate a friend or family member to dissuade you from procrastinating. Ideally, your chosen helper should have an idea of the work you need to get done as well as the time frame for completion, allowing them to better hold you accountable. While most of us can rationalize our own procrastination, making excuses becomes much harder when you have someone to answer to.
Surround Yourself With Inspiration
We all have things that inspire us, whether it’s a particular book, a piece of music, a poem or even a movie. If you have something in your life that pumps you up or gets your creative juices flowing, then don’t be shy about relying on it. Anything that spurs you to action can be useful, especially when you’re battling procrastination. If you’re looking for new sources of inspiration, search around online, read through postings on message boards and see what inspires other people.
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Just Move Forward
Sometimes, our desire to procrastinate is so strong that we can’t bring ourselves to do anything. In times such as these, any sort of forward movement is progress. While responding to emails or doing research may be construed as procrastinating under ordinary circumstances, these types of low-level tasks can be beneficial. Doing anything even tangentially work-related is sometimes enough to build up a head of steam and provide you with a sense of accomplishment to break you out of a procrastination funk.
If you work from home, it can be difficult to find the motivation to work. After all, your house is full of distractions, from the book you’re in the middle of, to the television show from last night that’s sitting on your DVR. When you’re feeling particularly unmotivated, even house work can sound appealing, but giving in to distractions of any kind doesn’t help to get your work done. Unlike completing low-level tasks, which can spur you to action on more important projects, falling victim to outside distractions only takes you further away from the tasks at hand, making it harder to get your work done.
Find a New Place to Work
Working in the same location day after day can take a toll mentally. If you’re feeling uninspired by your current workspace, it’s a good idea to switch things up. Try getting work done in a different room in your house or heading out to a coffee shop for a few hours. Believe it or not, simply changing your environment can sometimes provide a much-needed spark and give you a newfound sense of energy.
Even though the desire to procrastinate happens to all of us, it doesn’t have to completely derail your work. By being proactive in your battle against procrastination, you can keep your work on track, avoid missing deadlines and, perhaps most importantly, retain more of your precious free time.
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