Everyone procrastinates from time to time, but some do it more often than others. For those habitual procrastinators, the ability to complete even the smallest tasks or projects can seem elusive. However, it’s important to remember that procrastination is a psychological issue that can be reversed with a few simple hacks.
Procrastination is something that comes natural to us. When we’re facing a task that we perceive to be boring, time-consuming or unpleasant, our natural inclination is to delay it by focusing on things that bring us direct and immediate pleasure. According to psychologists, 20 percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. Chronic procrastination means you don’t just procrastinate in one specific area -- rather it's part of your lifestyle which can be debilitating and dangerous.
While you may not classify yourself as a chronic procrastinator, chances are that you’re a procrastinator to some degree. If you want to overcome your aggravating inclinations to delay the onset of less-than-enjoyable tasks and responsibilities, you need to take action.
Here are five hacks that will help you beat procrastination.
1. Schedule your day in 15-minute blocks.
Multi-tasking is one of the easiest ways to procrastinate, because it allows you delay less-enjoyable tasks. The best way to prevent that and increase your productivity is by using time-blocking. The concept is similar to creating a financial budget on paper, except in this case, you're planning to spend your time rather than money.
You should start by planning out your day and everything you would like to get done. Next, divide those tasks into 15-minute blocks, because it will allow you to set realistic deadlines and not waste time.
2. Set S.M.A.R.T goals.
A goal without a plan is just a wish. When you have concrete tasks with deadlines, your chances of delaying are much lower than they would be if the task isn’t well defined. S.M.A.R.T goals are the enemy of procrastination. This framework requires you to create goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
3. Use the George Washington method.
Are you familiar with the George Washington method? This method involves picking an arbitrary point in your day and setting this as noon. You then move forward in segments, only focusing on the hour you’re currently in. It’s simply another way of organizing your time. This is actually the strategy that the White House cleaning staff still uses today.
4. Remove distractions from your workspace.
Everyone wants to have a fun office, but busy workspaces are unfortunately very distracting and conducive to procrastination. If you’re really serious about staying focused, you need to create a distraction-free workspace. Some ideas include:
- Position your computer screen away from the window. This prevents you from getting distracted with what’s going on outside of your office.
- Remove knick-knacks from your desk. While stress balls, bobble heads, and interactive gadgets may look cool, they actually take away from your focus.
- Uninstall distracting apps from your computer and delete bookmarks to websites that don’t pertain to business. It’s amazing how much time you can waste on your computer by mindlessly clicking through these websites.
These three tips alone can free up your workspace and allow you to focus more on your work and less on the noise and distractions around you.
5. Find accountability partners.
When you’re an entrepreneur, you don’t always have a manager or boss breathing down your neck and making sure you get things done. While this is certainly one of the pleasures of working for yourself, it also has a downside. When you don’t have superiors, there’s no one to keep you in line.
One of the best things you can do is find some accountability. If you work from home, this may look like asking your wife to check in every day to see what you’ve done. If you have a close friend or colleague who is in the same industry, then you can do a daily progress call with them.
Procrastination isn’t something you can afford to take lightly. While it may be something that you joke about with your friends, it’s a debilitating problem that can significantly and negatively impact the amount of success you experiences in your career. With these tips, you can begin to overcome your procrastination and experience the freedom of maximum productivity and focus.