Updated: Aug 28
Don't feel like doing anything? Got a lot of tasks to do and no motivation at all? We feel your pain. It's been proven that procrastination leads to lower productivity and stress. It can also lead to more serious problems such as depression, suicidal thoughts, or substance abuse. Worried about "How to stop postponing things? Putting an end to this bad habit is essential for your mental hygiene, but it's not easy on its own. Here are 5 super-effective strategies that can help you fight procrastination or guide towards no procrastination.
#1: Start with the easiest tasks
Sometimes it's easier said than done, but you have to force yourself to get started. Make a list of all the things you have to do and make sure you start with the easiest task first. The best way is to write down everything on paper so that you can see for yourself how urgent it is. If you make a list of easy and urgent tasks, getting started will be easier than ever! The key here is not only simplicity but also flexibility, which will save us time in the long run. If you're quite busy during the weekdays, try scheduling your important tasks for the weekends instead!
#2: Put yourself in the shoes of your future self
Remember when you were a teenager and had high expectations to graduate from a really good college? You may have taken on several tasks at once, but everything went smoothly. However, when you were in your twenties, you found it more and more difficult to meet things that used to come naturally to you as a teenager. The same thing applies to adulthood. It's important not only what we do but also why we do it. Therefore, put yourself in the future with all the knowledge and skills that you have now or have learned throughout your life.
Okay, let's be honest - this is easier said than done! But the idea behind it is that you can never do enough before it's too late. You only live once. So, whatever tasks you have on your to-do list, work hard and enjoy yourself. Don't wait for a better time in the future because it's not coming.
#3: Take a small break between tasks
How about taking a quick break during your working day? Take time out to get fresh air. Maybe even step away from your desk for 10 minutes and leave your phone behind so that you can relax and forget about all the stresses of life. Of course, take your phone with you in case of emergency, but to get yourself started again, take a short break.
#4: Bask in the process
Well-being is more than happiness. There are numerous ways to improve your mental health and well-being that don't always involve expensive therapy sessions — so get outside and enjoy the great outdoors!
The natural beauty that surrounds us can be calming and therapeutic. Go for a walk in nature to increase your oxygen intake, relieve stress, or just to get away from the city noise for a while. If you've got kids at home, you can even put them on a playdate with their friends to give them some time away from technology.
#5: Visualize the outcome
We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words, but it can also be used to change your mind. Visualization can be a powerful tool when it comes to mental health. Many years ago, professional sportsmen were only focusing on visualizing their actions and skills in game situations. It's been proven that this kind of visualization improves results in a variety of fields, including sports, dancing and even chess! So try to visualize your achievements on the way to accomplishing your goals!
#6: Create a to-do list
You can make dozens of to-do lists every day and still can't get anything done. Even worse, each time you try to pick up something from the list you push it off the top as a troublesome task. Instead, create a simple checklist for every task you need to do by hand to be sure that nothing slips through the cracks. This way you'll definitely remember what's supposed to be done after a short pause and your mind will be free again for other tasks.
#7: Focus on work, not hours
Many people actually believe that their productivity is still high because they've somehow managed to fit 13 hours of work into 14. But even if your productivity is strong and you finish everything on your to-do list, you may be overloading your mind. The world's best multi-taskers can't get away with that for long!
So, don't forget to take a break and give your brain time to recharge itself so it can focus on the things that need urgent attention. To begin with, try working for an hour every day instead of 13 or 14!
#8: Switch up tasks
You're facing the same issues with procrastination as all other people do. For example, you need to write a paper and ideally you want to do it as soon as possible. The problem is that whenever you try to take a step towards writing this paper, your mind becomes full of excuses and doubts. So what to do?
Try to switch up the tasks that you take on every day. Perhaps you have a good idea for a new project and want to try it, but it's been two months since you had such an idea, so your motivation is low. Instead of just going all-out with that idea, turn the project into something that will be fun or interesting for you (for example if you decide to photograph some birds in their natural habitat). The next time this happens, your motivation will be better. This way you can set yourself up for success and avoid procrastination. And remember - if you don't set yourself up for success, no one else will!
#9: Establish a routine
The best way to get things done is to do them on a regular schedule. Your body will know what to expect and when. And now the time has come to establish that routine...
Before you sit down at your desk in the morning, make sure you have everything that needs to be done there.
Take a look at your daily planner and make sure everything is there, including the simple tasks (for example getting water) or meetings that need your attention every day (a meeting with a bank colleague for example). The same goes for lunch and the evening. Before bed, make sure everything's done.
Procrastination is a bad thing, but it's a part of our everyday lives. When we procrastinate, we usually put off important tasks for something easier or more interesting. Try to grab every opportunity in life and don't waste your time on small and simple things. The same goes for your productivity - make sure you stay on track!
It's easy to get distracted by all the different things out there, but remember that it's up to you how you want to spend your time. Make sure you take some time off from work every day so that you can relax and forget about everything else for a while. Always try to focus on "How to stop postponing work?" Visualize the outcome of your work in order not to forget about what needs to be done. And don't forget to take breaks and recharge your battery!