I’ll get to it later.
How many times have you said those words in recent memory? Putting off tasks and assignments until the last minute is a commonly recognized habit of teenagers and college-aged students. But how prevalent is procrastination in adulthood?
Very prevalent, it turns out. Research has shown that 1 in 5 adults are chronic procrastinators. Whether it’s putting off filing your taxes, scheduling your annual physical, or responding to an email that’s been sitting in your inbox for weeks, procrastination can be a daily struggle that lasts well past your days as a student.
What can you do when the temptation to delay or defer your responsibilities hits you? Consider the following ten tips to combating procrastination:1. Uncover your motives for procrastinating.
Recognize why you are procrastinating: is the task boring, repetitive, unpleasant? Contrast that with the positives of addressing unfinished work and the negatives of not getting things done.
2. Focus on positive past results.
Think back to the last time you overcame your procrastination and completed a task or project and how good you felt. Remind yourself that you can have that feeling again.
3. Complete the hardest task first.
Address the task or project you have been avoiding at the start of the day or when you have peak energy. You will be surprised how much progress you can make if you don't delay the task until later.
4. Set goals and establish deadlines.
Writing down goals and deadlines gives you something concrete to work against. Task lists and to-do lists can be particularly helpful in this regard. Make sure you have the most difficult tasks at the top of the list.
5. Break large tasks into smaller ones.
Don't set yourself up for failure by trying to accomplish too much and becoming disheartened. Break a large task into smaller, more manageable ones. Build on the successful completion of each small task. Before you know it, you'll have the entire task or project completed.
6. Establish a routine.
Routines are important. For example, if you are trying to exercise on a daily basis, reserve the same time everyday to do so. If you need to be more prompt in responding to emails, again, carve out a set time everyday to accomplish this.
7. Create a distraction-free workspace.
Consider finding a “productivity zone” free from distractions where you can focus on tough tasks. This may be outside the office or in a quiet conference room. Freed from the distractions of other people and interruptions, you may find you can work much more productively.
8. Enlist help.
A “productivity coach”--a colleague, friend, or professional counselor--may be of help in keeping you “on task.” You may find it helpful to share your challenges with procrastination, especially when your coach or helper provides positive reinforcement.
9. Make yourself accountable.
Sometimes a public announcement of your goals and when you expect to finish a task or project will provide motivation. This is a way of creating external pressure--and for some people knowing that they are publicly accountable helps force them to stop procrastinating.
10. Reward yourself.
Positive reinforcement, whether for completing stages of a task or at the end of a project, can be very motivating. Something as simple as rewarding yourself to a cup of coffee after you finish a given difficult task can help spur you to action.