Beating Procrastination Like A Pro In The New Year!

As per a survey, over 65% of all ‘New Year Resolutions Lists’ have ‘Stop Procrastinating’ as one of the top three resolutions! Procrastination, or the act of unnecessarily postponing decisions or actions, is a common problem, which chronically affects approximately a large part of the population, resulting in missed opportunities and increased stress.

Procrastination wears many disguises. We might resolve to tackle a task, but find endless reasons to defer it. We might prioritize things we can readily tick off on our ‘To-Do List’; we can look and feel busy, while artfully avoiding the tasks that really matter. And when we look at those rolling, long-untouched items at the bottom of our To-Do List, we can’t help but feel a disappointed.

This happens because our brain is somewhat programmed that way. In general, we all tend to struggle with tasks that promise future benefit in return for efforts we take now. It’s easier for our brains to process concrete rather than abstract things, and the immediate hassle is very tangible compared with those unknowable, uncertain future benefits. The reality is that most times you don’t lack time. You just waste most of it on useless busyness.

An average user spends two and a half hours daily on social media in 2022. As of 2020, Netflix users watched an average of 3.2 hours daily – that’s 6 billion collective hours per month! When we look at these stats, it’s easy to think, “Wow! People waste so much time!” as if we don’t contribute to these! But we do. We are all part of these. Hence, it’s better to accept that we don’t lack time — but just that we waste most of it. Once you do that, you can do something about it – like incorporating tiny habits into your life that’ll save you much of your time.

Here Are 8 Practical Ways To STOP PROCRASTINATING:

Break Your Work Into Parts: Part of the reason we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work overwhelming. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at a time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple, you will be able to do it right away!

Time-Blocking: An easy time-management hack by Cal Newport, this takes just a minute but leads to much clarity in your day. Every night, simply divide the next day into 30-minute blocks and assign tasks to these. This method is successful as it eliminates procrastination that stems from trying to decide ‘when’ to start working. If you decide when to start working in real-time, procrastination is inevitable. You might think that you’ll start working in 5 minutes — but those 5 minutes turn into an hour without you realizing it. However, if it’s already decided that you’ll start working at 2 o’clock the next day, the chances of procrastination reduce greatly! Also, when you lay out your day on a piece of paper with assigned tasks, you’ll realize that you actually have a lot of time in a day. Doing this daily helps you get rid of the ‘lack of time’ mind-set.

Eat The Frog First: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Eating the frog is basically doing the most challenging and dreaded task of the day. And while you are time-blocking it the night before, it’s best to schedule it first thing in the morning, especially cause it’s always the most challenging task of the day that induces max procrastination! Hence, the later you schedule it, the more time you might waste time procrastinating because of the stress it induces. But if you do it first thing in the morning, you’ll feel like a winner all day.

Change Your Environment: Different environments have different impacts on our productivity. Look at your work-space and your room. Do these make you want to work, or snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should change your workspace. An environment that once inspired us could lose effect after some time… in which case, it’s time to change things around!

Eliminate Those Procrastination Pit-falls: If you’re a habitual procrastinator, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate. To avoid procrastinating and focus on what you’ve decided to prioritize, try removing every possible distraction from your work environment – physical and digital. For eg., put your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ and place it in a drawer that requires you to physically get up to check it. Disable notifications and alerts on all your devices.  Basically, un-plug before you plug-in and focus. Also, identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that’s less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email. Get rid of the distractions around you!

Use A Timer: This is the most underrated tool for productivity on your Phone. When you start working, set a timer for say, an hour or 40 minutes. You can also set different time periods through the day, depending on how cognitively tired you are or how demanding a task is. This method works because a timer anchors you to the task at hand and kills distractions. Because your mind knows the timer is on, it will stay focused because a timer creates a sense of accountability.

Get To The Root Of It: Sometimes, it can be helpful to pinpoint why you’ve been procrastinating a specific task. Are you afraid of something? Maybe you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Fill in the sentence: “I’m avoiding this task because…” or “I’m avoiding this task because I’m afraid that….” And see what shows up. Identifying your fears helps you realize the monsters in the closet aren’t as bad as you think!

Reward Yourself: Another way to motivate yourself to complete a task is to create a reward that you will give yourself once it’s been completed. Research shows the human brain responds to reward stimulus and this can be a good way to create habits. For eg., you can take a short break to watch a TV show that you like for every chapter that you read in preparation for a test. You can also find ways to make your progress feel more rewarding, such as going over your To-Do List at the end of each day, to feel good about how much you got done!

Here’s wishing you a Procrastination-Free, Happy New Year!

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