I don’t know about you, but for me, procrastination is a huge problem. Always has been. In high school and college I would put things off until the very last minute, waiting until the night before an important project or paper was due to start working on it. I wouldn’t say I did this because I was lazy necessarily, but more because I had other, ‘more important’ things on my mind. I could spend hours working on random irrelevant projects, but when it came down to the things that really mattered, I’ve always had a hard time planning further ahead than the night before a due date. Thankfully I do very well with deadlines, and am a fast worker. If something needs to be done by tomorrow, I’ll have it done. But I may not start working on it until tonight. Anyone else out there find this familiar? Goodness, I hope I’m not the only one.
I guess you can imagine that this sort of thought pattern is not in any way conducive to accomplishing big, long-term goals. It’s like this. I can see the end goal, all the things I want to accomplish, but it seems to far away – so unobtainable from where I sit – that I lack the motivation to really go after it. My procrastination kicks in, rendering me useless until the night before that important due date, which, never comes because in order to have a due date, I have to actually start the project. I’m sure I’ve probably lost you at this point amidst the vast ramblings that occur behind the scenes in my brain. Sorry about that. I do have a point though – that I need to learn how to change my night-before-the-due-date mentality to one of plan-in-advance-to-succeed. And I’m hoping that maybe some of you have the same struggle, and can learn something from my ramblings.
So, how am I going to make these changes to my thought process? I get the feeling that it will be a trial and error sort of thing, but here are a few of my ideas –
5 Ways To Beat Procrastination For Good:
1. Make a plan and stick to it. When you come up with a new idea, or are assigned a particular project, don’t tuck it away for later. Make yourself face it straight away, and create an actionable plan to accomplish it. Break it up into small goals, each with it’s own deadline, so that you have to complete each step by a certain date. It sounds like a lot of extra work, but it will ensure that your project or idea comes into existence, instead of forever being shoved to the back of your brain.
2. Motivate yourself with rewards. Do you really like to watch TV? Or read? Or bake cookies? Whatever it is that makes you feel happy and relaxed, turn that thing into your reward. Stay away from participating in that activity until you’ve accomplished the first step in your plan. For example, if you’re a writer going for a certain word count, turn off the TV or put down the book until you’ve reached 1,000 words for the day. Then, you can enjoy your leisure activity of choice without guilt, because you’ve already accomplished what you needed to for the day.
3. Get out of bed. Not a morning person? Get out of bed anyways! This is actually something I’ve been doing lately, and it has really been helping me be more productive. I used to stay up a lot later at night, saying that I was ‘more productive’ during those late hours of the night. But, what I found was that I usually just ended up popping in a movie or reading, or doing something other than what I really needed to accomplish. But, since I’ve been getting up earlier in the morning, I’ve been accomplishing a lot more in the early hours of the day, which causes me to be more productive throughout the remainder or the day as well. I was skeptical of the 6 AM alarm clock at first, but over time it’s gotten easier, and it’s been incredibly worthwhile.
4. Remind yourself why you’re doing this. Why is it that you want to pursue this idea, project or dream? How will it benefit you? How will it benefit those around you? How will your life be better once you’ve accomplished it? Those are the kind of questions to ask yourself when you’re feeling like giving up or putting your project off for another day. If you start now, think how much better your life will be in 6 months or a year from now. A lot better than it would have been if you never started in the first place.
5. Find accountability. If it’s just you against your project, chances are you won’t finish it. But, if there’s someone else in on your plans, they can help motivate you and remind you of your impending deadlines. Find someone you trust and ask them to help hold you accountable for your goals. Tell them to take away the TV remote, hide your book or lock up the baking supplies. Whatever you have to do. You’ll get a lot more accomplished if someone other than yourself is holding you accountable.
So there you have it. Five strategies for conquering that beast we call procrastination. Do you have any other ideas? How do you stay motivated to accomplish your goals?