You’re looking at your to-do list and see a project marked ‘due immediately’, yet you find yourself doing everything else but working on that for the past few hours. You start to get frustrated because it feels as if you’re stuck in an endless loop of starting and restarting. When procrastination becomes incessant, it can take its toll on your work performance and well-being. Here are tips to help you escape (and prevent) the procrastination loop!
Find out what causes you to procrastinate.
The good news is procrastination isn’t tied to mere laziness. According to David Ballard, head of the American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence, more than delaying a task, procrastination involves “an aspect that’s counterproductive, irrational or unnecessary.” People fall into procrastination because they feel detached from the value of the task at hand. This is why a lot of people who regularly procrastinate say they don't get into productive mode until the last minute; they don’t feel rewarded when the gratification is delayed. In any case, the best first step is to recognize your own patterns and figure out the type of tasks that you don’t enjoy doing, the common distractions that keep you from working effectively, and the type of environment you find you’re most productive in. From there, it becomes much easier to plan out your tasks and schedules.
Break your tasks into smaller tasks.
Value detachment also materializes when a task feels overwhelming and unmanageable. People then delay doing them in an unconscious attempt to avoid possible disappointment from their output. If you’re dealing with a big task you aren’t familiar nor comfortable with, it helps to narrow it down to smaller, more manageable tasks- like sending an email or setting up a meeting!
Change your environment.
Productivity has a lot to do with our working environment. If there are too many disruptions around you or if your current workspace is more conducive for resting, it’s time to make some changes! Being in the right setting makes a world of difference. Check out these physiotherapist- approved desks that boost productivity by 46 % for starters!
Use time management apps.
Time management apps aka Pomodoro apps like Focus Plant help you commit to your tasks by setting up timers for uninterrupted work integrated with short breaks. Focus Plant works like a game; when you start the timer for x minutes of uninterrupted work, a virtual plant starts to grow and it ‘dies’ as soon as you exit the app. It also sends messages like “Don’t look at me!” to keep you from being tempted to check anything else on your phone.
You don’t have to delay gratification! You can reward even the smallest of tasks during your short breaks, like going online shopping for 5 minutes after checking one thing off your to-do list. Doing this helps you keep your mind fresh and away from the dangers of procrastination!
Procrastination happens to everyone and while it can be exasperating, it’s always comforting to know that it’s not a situation that’s impossible to get out of. Take one step at a time, study your work habits, and give yourself a pat on the back for every progress you make, no matter how big or small!
What are your usual remedies to uninvited work lulls?
American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Psychology of procrastination: Why people put off important tasks until the last minute. American Psychological Association. Retrieved November 15, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2010/04/procrastination.
Ducharme, J. (2018, June 29). Psychologists on why you procrastinate - and how to stop. Time. Retrieved November 15, 2021, from https://time.com/5322514/stop-procrastinating-tips/.
Lieberman, C. (2019, March 25). Why you procrastinate (it has nothing to do with self-control). The New York Times. Retrieved November 15, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/smarter-living/why-you-procrastinate-it-has-nothing-to-do-with-self-control.html.
MAA1. (2019, July 17). App Review: Forest. Medium. Retrieved November 15, 2021, from https://maa1.medium.com/app-review-forest-6ff95253a7fe.