How To Turn Procrastination Into Progress

Procrastination is the single most common killer of progress and accomplishment. It is that distraction that sneaks in when you try to finish a project. The nap that you suddenly need, the ‘urgent’ task that’s more important … the washing, the paperwork, the pasta! Before you know it,  the ‘break’ has stretched all weekend and that project has remained untouched.

It is a struggle for everyone, even the most efficient of people. However, it can be beaten.

Procrastination already works for some people – or at least we think it does. Wonder if you recognise yourself in any of these?  Some of us will wait until the last minute before a deadline and then stock up on the coffee and finish in a heartbeat, relieved to be done. Of course, that is a tactic that can also backfire spectacularly. When you get used to doing this, you tend to give yourself less and less time to finish the task in hand and then one day … you just don’t have enough left!

Here are some ideas that work for me.

Break all your tasks down into little chunks.

This way the big project becomes a set of smaller projects that are easier to complete. The power in this comes from progress itself. For those that struggle with getting something done, chunking it down helps keep up momentum by allowing them to do a little bit of work on their goal – the work entirely being up to them, so long as it pertains to the project. The sense of accomplishment keeps procrastinators motivated and that motivation can easily turn into success. Those happy little ‘I’m finished!’ bursts will make even the most apathetic people more able to finish the job.

Take a good look around your work area.

If you are surrounded by things to play with, distractions or loud noise, it might be time to rethink your location. Organising a messy area has been shown to get procrastinators raring to go. I know it works for me. The act of getting yourself organised in itself is another helping hand from the sense of accomplishment. Get things in order, shuffle away mobiles, headphones and close down all necessary ‘distraction windows’ on your computer and give another crack at that looming project.

Work on multiple projects. 

It sounds bizarre, but alternating between two projects can break up the monotony. When you hit a wall with one, go to the other. The switch may help you brainstorm and come up with more to work with when you go back to the first project. Instead of idly browsing the internet, you will turn procrastination on its head and use it to your advantage. Just don’t try to juggle more than you can handle!

An understanding friend can help.

You probably shouldn’t invite the friend who wants to go out or mess around, but having someone keeping you steady and focused, even providing idle chit-chat while your hands go on auto-pilot can be a great way to beat the bulk of the project. Time flies when you are having fun, so don’t feel bad about fooling procrastination into thinking that its winning and letting you goof off. I tend to find this works really well on more mundane, but equally important projects – ones that don’t need a lot of creativity – they just need to get done.

Another trick is to move … yep, just move it!

Once that apathy and wandering mind hits and you just can’t settle it, move.  Your mind may protest and beg to stay put and look up cute cat videos, but just move. Go to a cafe, switch rooms, change your scenery … then start again.

I’d love to know … what are your best ways to beat procrastination?