6 Top Tips to Stop Procrastination

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Procrastination can affect us all, and it often leads to a cycle of unproductiveness and feelings of inadequacy.

Procrastination is putting off or delaying tasks until the last minute, often for no apparent reason. A lot of the time, what we choose to do instead is trivial and meaningless.

We may waste hours of time browsing social media or online shopping.
The most frustrating thing about procrastination is that it’s completely self-inflicted! There’s usually no good reason why we can’t start on a task, but for some reason we choose not to.

While procrastination is extremely frustrating, beating it is possible! Take a look at these 6 tips to stop procrastination.

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What Type of Procrastinator are you?

There’s 3 types of procrastinators; delayers, perfectionists and distractibles. 

Delayers struggle to get started on their task, often claiming to be too busy, too tired or too stressed. Delayers can benefit from breaking the work down and setting a schedule so it feels less overwhelming. 

Perfectionists get bogged down in the details, struggling to finish a task because they want it to be perfect. They may eventually give up altogether if they feel something isn’t their best work. 

Perfectionists should practice self-compassion and kindness, learning to give themselves a break if they don’t meet their own high standards.

The Distractible is easily distracted. They may begin a task, then become lost in social media or the lure of a good TV show!

Distractible should try to eliminate all distractions. Focus on having an uncluttered workspace, and put your phone on aeroplane mode or even in another room. 

Procrastination - Distracted
Distracting yourself with TV or online videos is a form of procrastination.

Recognise When and How you are Procrastinating

Being able to recognise when and how you are procrastinating is the first step towards stopping it. Most people procrastinate because they feel the task is too big, they know they won’t do a good job or they are easily distracted by other things. 

To recognise when you are procrastinating, try to notice if you are putting off a certain task, regularly re-prioritising your workload, or re-doing your to-do list.

Planning to work without actually working is a form of procrastination.
Filling your day with unnecessary tasks to replace what you actually need to do is also procrastinating.

In fact, even telling yourself, ‘I’ll start once I’ve had a cup of coffee’ or, ‘I’ll start after lunch instead’ is a sign of procrastination.

Break your Work up into Smaller Tasks

Breaking the task into smaller sections can help all 3 types of procrastinators. Split it up into manageable chunks, and reward yourself once you have completed one section. 

If you are procrastinating because the task feels overwhelming or too large, you’ll almost certainly benefit from this tip. Breaking your work up into smaller tasks can help it feel more manageable and keep you motivated.

While the thought of writing a long essay or producing a presentation can be daunting, breaking the task into small chunks will help.

Aim to write your introduction or plan what you are going to say before you allow yourself a short break, then start on the next section.

Procrastination - tasks
Breaking up your tasks and creating a schedule can help combat procrastination.

Use a Schedule and Set Yourself a Deadline

A schedule can be extremely motivating, especially for those who put off working until the last minute. 

Try to integrate rest time into your schedule to prevent burnout, and set yourself deadlines so you don’t spend too long on each section of the task – this is especially important for perfectionists.

Never underestimate the power of a schedule! Using a schedule and setting yourself a manageable deadline can also help you to beat procrastination.

Many people find a ‘power hour’ helps hugely. Remove all distractions and commit to a certain amount of time spent working.

The optimum focusing time is usually between 20 and 30 minutes. Once the time is up, allow yourself a short rest period.

These ‘power hours’ can be worked into your schedule. Making time for rest as well as work will prevent your tasks from becoming too overwhelming and help keep you motivated.

Procrastination - deadlines
Give yourself a deadline and something to work towards.

Do the Hard Tasks First

Doing the hard tasks first will give you a boost as you’ll know that things are only going to get easier! Doing the easiest, shortest jobs first can lead to a false sense of accomplishment. 

Doing the hard tasks first is another way to stay focused for longer. While it’s very tempting to start with the shortest and easiest task, we only have a set amount of motivation before we need to rely on pure willpower to accomplish something we don’t really want to do.

Starting with the hardest task can motivate you, as you’ll know that things are only going to get easier!

Once you’ve tackled the hardest task, you’ll just have the easier things to do next. Completing all the easy jobs and putting off the harder ones is still a form of procrastination, and it can lead to a false sense of progress.

This feeling of progression can make you think you’re done for the day – putting off the hardest tasks yet again.

Procrastination - incentives
Do your challenging tasks first and visualise your goals.

Visualise your Goals and Give Yourself Incentives

A visualisation can be very powerful. Spend a few minutes imagining yourself completing a task and the sense of progress that will come with that. 

Set incentives and small rewards for staying focused for a set period of time. 

Visualisation can be hugely effective when it comes to beating procrastination. Write down what it is you want to accomplish, then put a plan in place for how you are going to accomplish it.

Even spending a few minutes visualising yourself succeeding can give you a boost of motivation.

Incentives can also help you to beat procrastination. Telling yourself that you’ll work for 30 minutes, then rewarding yourself with a tea or coffee can really help you to focus.

Allowing yourself a certain amount of time each day on social media can also help. This will encourage you to scroll mindfully, without wasting time looking at things which don’t serve you.

While setting incentives for ourselves can of course, be easily ignored, you’ll be surprised how effective an incentive can be.

Be Kind and Forgiving to Yourself

Finally, be kind to yourself. Procrastinators are often very hard on themselves, which can lead to further self-sabotage. Practice meditation and self-love, you’ll learn to reward yourself when you get a lot done, and forgive yourself when you don’t.

Procrastination is a form of self-sabotage, and being kind to yourself is far more effective than piling on the pressure. Research has shown that the kinder you are to yourself when it comes to your procrastination, you are more likely to take action. 

Berating yourself for failing to start work on time will only make things worse. Taking the time to practice self-compassion can really help. Self-love and compassion can help perfectionists immensely, and you’ll learn to make peace with the fact that it may not be 100% perfect. 

Building self-compassion can be done in a few ways, but one of the easiest is to practice a guided meditationMindEasy has a range of guided meditations focused on building compassion and self-love. You’ll learn to treat yourself with kindness, whether you smash your to-do list or not!  

Key Facts

  1. Procrastination is a form of self-sabotage, and it can affect all of us.

  2. There’s 3 types of procrastinator – the delayer, the perfectionist and the distractible.

  3. Breaking the work into manageable chunks can help delayers to feel less overwhelmed with the task at hand.

  4. Setting a schedule and using deadlines can help all 3 types of procrastinators to stay motivated and focused.

  5. Do the hard tasks first, so you know that it’s only going to get easier!

  6. Visualising yourself completing your to-do list and being able to relax without the stress hanging over you can be very effective. Spend a few minutes at the start of each day visualising what you would like to achieve.

  7. Self-compassion and self-love can really help perfectionists who berate themselves for procrastinating or not completing a task perfectly. Research has shown that the harder we are on ourselves, the more likely we are to procrastinate. 

  8. MindEasy has a range of meditation courses with the aim of improving self-love, compassion and confidence.