10 Ways to Stop Procrastination From Standing in the Way of Your Goals

Use these tips to break through old habits
10 Ways to Stop Procrastination From Standing in the Way of Your Goals
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One of the biggest obstacles to achieving your goals is you. In the pursuit of success, sometimes the hardest thing to do is to get out of your own way.  And one of the ways that this can manifest itself is, you guessed it, procrastination.

More often than not, you aren’t putting something off because of laziness or disinterest. Instead, the urge to avoid the task in front of you can stem from an anxiety that you’re going to do it wrong or a fear of failure.

But we’re here to help alleviate those concerns. Read on for 10 tips on how to make procrastination a thing of the past.

1. Stop looking for perfection.

We can guarantee that whatever you do it will not be perfect. Tweaking and altering your project endlessly is not going to make you happy with the end result. If anything, the relentless focus on minutia will make you feel more miserable. However, if you complete a project to the best of your ability -- and are proud to put your name on it -- that is more than good enough.

Read more: Perfection Is the Greatest Obstacle to Productivity

2. Switch gears.

If you’re just staring at a screen and the blinking cursor and blank page aren’t helping then stop what you’re doing and move onto something else on your list for a little while. Turning your attention to something different could help jumpstart an idea you didn’t realize you had in there.

Read more: Sometimes, After a Successful Run, It's Time to Switch Gears. Learn How to Pivot.

3. Schedule down time.

If you work all the time -- everything from your mood to your productivity will suffer -- so actually block out time to take breaks into your to-do list. Also, if you’re exhausted, you won’t be able to focus and that just makes it harder to start something new.

Read more: The Secret to Becoming 10 Times More Productive? Block Out Time.

4. Use the buddy system.

If you know that you are prone to procrastinating, there is no reason to have to go it alone. Talk to a friend or co-worker and help each other. Schedule regular check-ins throughout the day or week. Talking out your goals will make them more real and less intimidating. And if you know you have to share your progress with someone else, you won’t be as likely to put off what has to get done.

Read more: 4 Ways to Teach Personal Accountability to Your Employees

5. Utilize short time blocks.

Instead of allotting an hour or 90 minutes to complete something, break it up into smaller pieces. What can you accomplish in 15 or 20 minutes? Set a timer and check your progress after those shorter intervals. You may be surprised how much you can accomplish when the task doesn’t seem quite as big and overwhelming.

Read more: This Productivity Hack Completely Changed My Life, and It Can Improve Yours

6. Make a plan.

It is easy to procrastinate and let time get away from you if you don’t have a to-do list. Write down what you want to accomplish and work backwards. To get to your desired end result make a realistic plan for what you want to accomplish today, this week and this month. You’ll start to look forward to crossing out things on that list.

Read more: 5 Tips for Continuous Strategic Planning

7. Don’t overdo it.

When you are setting up your plan for the week, make sure you are being realistic about what you can handle everyday. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Are three separate deadlines, a conference call and an in-person meeting in one day too much for you? What can you move to the next day, consolidate or cut altogether? Tailor your work schedule to your strengths.

Related: Feeling Overwhelmed? Here's How These Entrepreneurs Stay Productive.

8. Find the right environment.

One of the most readily available excuses for a procrastinator is that they aren’t in the best physical space to get their work done. Remove that from the equation entirely by taking some personal inventory and figuring out where you are most productive. Do you need complete silence, upbeat music, natural light, a snack before you get going? Assemble all the things you need and quiet those doubts.

Read more: How to Stay Focused: Train Your Brain

9. Simply begin.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is get started. Even if you feel like you don’t have enough information, or you aren’t in the right frame of mind to work on a project, if you just started sketching an outline or writing something down that’s just your stream of consciousness, if can help get you over that hump.

Read more: A Simple 6-Step Process to Starting a Small Business

10. Be kind to yourself.

If you have what feels like an entrenched habit of procrastination, don’t beat yourself up if you slip every once in awhile. You won’t change overnight, but part of accomplishing your goal requires.

Read more: 8 Effortless Ways to Make Kindness Part of Every Day

Edition: March 2017

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