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I am pretty sure that all of us have procrastinated at different times. It’s normal; it’s human. But are you regularly affected by procrastination to the point where it is directly impinging the quality of your life and affecting your relationship with other people?
Simply put, procrastination is neglecting important tasks on which you are meant to be focusing. The key to dealing with procrastination is to know when and why you are doing it and then to manage the situation better.
Knowing where to start
The first step towards achieving higher productivity and less procrastination is knowing where to start and, more importantly starting small. Take whatever is easy and manageable and doesn’t make you anxious. If you, for example, have a project to start – do so with the small things that come the easiest to you, as the harder ones will follow and it will be easier for you to get to them. Unfinished tasks get stuck in our minds and bother us for quite a long time, which is known as the Zeigarnik effect. The tip for beating this is to start easily, and the harder parts will follow.
Getting rid of the excuses
Believing you are working under pressure, not being in the mood to work, thinking about you will finish everything in the deadline, worrying about whether you’ll have money from the tasks you’re doing, blaming sickness or not feeling well – those are all the most common excuses for procrastination. However, one is the most common one: waiting for the right moment. The right moment is right now; not a second later. The moment you catch yourself thinking about a certain project or a chore that you have to be doing is actually your brain telling you that you need to start doing so, and the best moment for succeeding in actually starting the process is that very moment. So take all the excuses, put them in an imaginary box, and throw them out of the window.
Indeed, even the most confident people have doubts, and, logically, they cause procrastination. One of the things you could try to do is having doubts about those doubts you’re having. Does this make sense? Telling yourself that those doubts are not actually real or that they are solvable might do the trick. Moreover, shaking your head once negative thoughts find their way to our brain is also a good trick. Other dangerous examples of overthinking are the questions whether the tasks we’re doing is worth doing, or setting ourselves impossibly high standards. We spend a lot of mental energy on this while we should be spending it on getting our job done.
Tracking your time
Making a detailed schedule might help you a great deal in dealing with this problem. Currently, there are plenty of apps that can help you organise your time and find the best way to increase productivity. Download them and try to use them for at least a week. Give yourself deadlines for everything that you have to do. Also, if you reward yourself with something every time you do something according to your schedule, you will be motivating yourself and also achieving in meeting the deadline you set for yourself.
Think of the result
Many make motivational dream boards on which they pin all the things they want to achieve, and sometimes this can lead to fulfilling your goals. However, the most important thing is visualising the result in the best way possible, and trying to get there with the biggest desire you can. If you don’t visualise the outcome of a project, for example, it will be difficult for you to motivate yourself and do the things you should be doing. If you have a hard time doing this, try to visualise something you will buy for yourself once you finish everything that you have to. It is motivating, and it is a visualisation of a certain thing, so why not?
By managing your time wisely you can minimise stress. The sense of achievement you feel from completing tasks will grow and it will also elevate your self-esteem. You’ll be driving your life knowing that you’re on track and achieving great things which will make you feel proud about yourself.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He writes for the American Psychological Association and has a weekly column for Free Malaysia Today.
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