We’ve all fallen victim to it. Procrastination can take hold of even the most disciplined mind. When faced with daily choices like: work or watch Netflix, work or update your Facebook status, work or daydream about the cutie you met on the train, work or gossip with your co-workers over IM; nearly all of those things sound way more fun than work.
Unfortunately, when we neglect to complete our work in a timely fashion, chaos ensues. Your boss starts riding you to get that project completed and in his inbox yesterday. Your co-worker calls in sick and you now have to pick up her slack along with your own. You become incredibly stressed. Your immune system is weakened. You begin to feel pretty sick yourself. You don’t complete your project on time. You lose sleep thinking about your boss’s response tomorrow. You lose credibility at work. You become disappointed in yourself. You may begin to feel anxious whenever you think about your job. This may sound like a stretch if you only procrastinate every now and then. However, when the procrastination spirit gets its evil claws into you and you let it become a habit, the cycle can lead to an overall feeling of job dissatisfaction.
The key to beating procrastination is to try various methods and combinations of those methods until you find one or more that work best for you; then, stick with it. Below, you’ll find five procrastination-busting methods to mix and match in order to give procrastination its walking papers.
The two-minute rule
This rule is extraordinarily simple: If a task will take you less than two minutes to complete, do it now. The two-minute rule comes from David Allen’s best-selling book, Getting Things Done. You’d be surprised how many things you can accomplish in just two minutes or less including: replying to an email, filing a document, tidying up your desk and writing a to-do list.
Take regular breaks
Indulging in frequent, short breaks several times per day will help to rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit. However, don’t spend your breaks on those same meaningless things that you love to procrastinate with. Instead, take five minutes to stretch, meditate, take deep breaths, take a walk or watch an inspirational video such as a TED Talk. Also, try the Pomodoro Technique.
Many times, disorganization is the root of your procrastination. If you walk into an office that is in disarray and attempt to work on a desk that is littered with junk, your mind can feel littered as well. A neat, organized work space can do wonders for your thought process, as can a well thought out list of current projects, tasks and goals. Once your desk is organized, along with your path laid out for you, all you have to do is follow it.
If procrastination has you down, it’s important to think with the end in mind. Don’t harp on the dread that you may be feeling now or once you start work. Instead, think about how you will feel once it’s complete. How will your boss praise you once you hand in that project early and under budget? How soundly will you sleep tonight knowing that all of your work is complete? Visualize what you want the outcome of your day to be and how you’ll feel once you conquer it.
There’s nothing wrong with a little bribery (as long as it’s not directed at a government official). Think of a few things that you really enjoy and make them your reward for getting things done. Maybe if you complete a certain task, you get to go to your favorite lunch spot near the office, meet a friend for drinks after work or indulge in your favorite dessert. Perhaps finishing a big project will get you a weekend getaway or a fancy new pair of shoes. Dangle something that you really want and will enjoy over your own head and procrastination will take a back seat.
Make it your priority to implement a few of these tools, one at a time, to figure out what sticks. For many, the answer depends on what motivates you. Some just love the satisfaction of knowing that they’ve finished the task, some really want the praises from their supervisor, while others just need the new shoes. Whatever drives you, use it as your motivation in order to knock that nasty procrastination habit out of your life for good.