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Six Ways to Deal With Procrastination

Procrastination is a common challenge that affects many people (including yours truly), often leading to stress, missed deadlines, and decreased productivity. If you’re human, you’ve procrastinated at some point in your life. Full confession: I’m writing this on a Monday morning, even though I had slated the first draft for last Friday. Not to worry if this sounds like you; there’s hope!

With the right strategies, you can reduce procrastination, enhance your efficiency, and even enjoy the tasks you’ve been putting off. If you’re ready to take control of your productivity, here are six effective ways to stop procrastinating today.


1. Avoid Distractions

One of the biggest obstacles to productivity is distractions. Whether it’s social media, email notifications, or noisy environments, distractions can significantly hinder your focus and delay task completion. Many of my friends enjoy working out of coffee shops, however given my short attention span that would be a definite distraction for me. 

Here are some of my favorite tips to minimize distractions:

·         Create a dedicated workspace: Choose a quiet, comfortable area where you can work without interruptions. 

·         Turn off notifications: Silence your phone and disable non-essential notifications on your computer to maintain concentration. 

·         Communicate your needs: Inform family members or roommates of your work schedule and ask for their cooperation in minimizing disruptions. 

By proactively managing your environment and limiting distractions, you can create a more conducive space for productivity.


2. Break Down Harder Tasks

Large, complex tasks can be overwhelming and often lead to procrastination. Breaking these tasks into smaller, more manageable activities can make them less daunting and easier to tackle. 

In my book Grab Life by the Dreams, I share a detailed process for documenting the steps to achieve your goals. Here’s an abbreviated version of how to do it:

·         Identify sub-tasks: List out all the smaller steps required to complete the larger task. 

·         Set mini-deadlines: Assign deadlines for each sub-task to ensure steady progress and avoid last-minute rushes.

·         Focus on one step at a time: Concentrate on completing each sub-task before moving on to the next. Tackling smaller tasks will reduce overwhelm, boost your confidence and keep you motivated.

For example, if you’re writing a self-help book, break it down into steps like choosing a topic, conducting research, creating an outline, writing the first chapter, and so on. 


3. Use Time Blocking

Time blocking is a powerful time management technique that I use with a lot of my clients, because it can help you stay organized and focused on the task at hand. By allocating specific time slots for different tasks, you can ensure that you dedicate adequate time to each activity. 

 Here’s how to implement time blocking:

·         Plan your day: At the beginning of each day or week, outline your tasks and allocate specific time blocks for each. The further ahead you plan, the less chance you have of someone scheduling a call and dictating your workday for you. 

·         Prioritize tasks: Assign time blocks based on the importance and urgency of tasks. High-priority tasks should be scheduled during your peak productivity periods.

·         Stick to your schedule: Commit to working on the designated task during each time block and avoid switching between tasks. With this method, you’ll save a lot of time which is typically lost during switching. 

For instance, you might block out 9-11 AM for focused work on a major project and 1-3 PM for meetings. This structured approach helps you stay on track and make the most of your time.


4. Reward Yourself

Incorporating rewards into your work routine can be a powerful motivator to help overcome procrastination. By rewarding yourself for completing tasks, you create positive reinforcement that encourages continued productivity. For example, as soon as I’m done writing this blog I plan to treat myself to an iced mocha latte.  

Here’s how to effectively use rewards to reduce your procrastination:

·         Set clear milestones: Define specific points at which you will reward yourself. For example, after finishing a chapter of a book or completing a challenging task.

·         Choose meaningful rewards: Pick rewards that genuinely motivate you. It could be a favorite snack, a short walk, a break to watch a video, or even a small purchase.

·         Stay consistent: Make sure to reward yourself consistently to build a habit. Over time, your brain will associate productivity with positive outcomes, making it easier to stay focused.

Rewards don’t have to be extravagant; even small incentives can make a significant difference in your motivation levels.

5. Take Regular Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity and avoiding burnout. Short breaks can help you recharge and stay focused. Pro Tip: They can even act like a reward for completing tasks, allowing you to knock out two tips at one time.

Here’s how to incorporate breaks effectively:

·         Follow the Pomodoro Technique: Work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. After four cycles, take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.

·         Move around: Use breaks to stretch, walk, or do light exercise to refresh your mind and body. 

·         Relax and unwind: Engage in activities that help you relax, such as listening to music, meditating, or reading. Simply enjoying nature is another great option. 

Just be mindful that your breaks don’t become a source of procrastination itself. If you’re on a roll and making progress, you don’t necessarily need to stop and take a scheduled break. 


6. Find Accountability

Having someone to hold you accountable can significantly boost your productivity and reduce procrastination. 

Here’s how to find accountability:

·         Partner with a colleague or friend: Share your goals and progress with a trusted colleague or friend who can provide support and encouragement. A life coach is a great avenue if you can’t find someone in your circle to help you stay on track. 

·         Use accountability tools: Utilize tools and apps that track your progress and remind you of your commitments. Trello, Notion and Asana are three that my clients and I have used regularly. 

Overcoming procrastination requires a combination of strategies tailored to your work style and environment. By avoiding distractions, breaking down harder tasks, using time blocking, rewarding yourself, taking regular breaks, and ensuring accountability, you can take control of your productivity and achieve your goals. Now, it’s time for me to enjoy some much-deserved coffee!  


Karin Freeland is a certified Life Reinvention Coach focused on helping women transform their careers and achieve their dreams by combining the lessons she learned in her 15 years in the corporate sector with her hundreds of hours coaching. Award-winning author of “Grab Life by the Dreams“ and podcast host of “Rock Your Reinvention,” learn more about her and her company Karin Freeland Coaching & Consulting, LLC at www.karinfreeland.com.

 



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