Overcoming Procrastination & Getting Things Done

Learn how to get things done and overcome procrastination, while saving time and excelling as a professional.

How-to Overcome Procrastination and Get Things Done

These are some steps will guide that will guide you:

What's making you procrastinate?

is the reflection of our aversion to performing a task, which according to psychological studies is due to three traits of the tasks: the difficulty, importance, and effectiveness to carry them out. In other words, when a person believes that the task is hard to be fulfilled, considers it irrelevant, or does not believe himself/herself to be good enough to perform it, he or she is likely to postpone the task, and not do it, repeatedly.

How to prevent procrastination

These are some of the most recommended strategies to prevent procrastination:

Make a plan and Set Your Goals

means everything, especially when time is limited as it saves you time in execution. Therefore, it is important to take a moment to set your goals for each task and establish the best method to accomplish these objectives.

Global goals can be overwhelming, so break them down into day-to-day tasks. By setting time-based commitments for this "small" task, you will be able to assess the development of your goals in intermediate periods, allowing you to have a better base for decision-making and avoid the tendency to postpone. So always break big tasks into little pieces, and set yourself to work on the most difficult task now and stay at it until you are done.

Prioritize. Identify and put off low-value tasks

There is never enough time to do everything but there is always enough time to do the most important things
. Focus on the result areas in order to organize tasks by value and priority. You can prioritize based on time constraints, the potential profitability, or the benefit of the task. Take into account the 80:20 rule, and focus your efforts on the high payoff tasks. Consider, which are both the positive and negative consequences of a task on your work. The most important tasks are those with the most serious consequences.

By prioritizing you are able to identify and put off low-value tasks. Furthermore, you will put aside behaviors such as structured procrastination, which consists in working on low-value tasks to occupy your time and feel like you're being productive when you're actually avoiding working on critical tasks.

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Get your workstation ready and organized

Before starting to work on something, get everything you need in order to work on a specific task. So if you need some prints, a pen, a calculator, a laptop (open those programs and files, you need), reports, and so on, get them before starting to work, and put everything you do not need somewhere else. This will allow you to focus on a single task, by helping you to avoid interruptions, while trying to get a copy you need, a pen, etcetera. Take into account that multitasking has been proven to be ineffective. The quality of work suffers at the expense of quantity. So single handle every task, and it is even better if you are able to devote long periods of time to a specific task, in order to concentrate for an extended period, without interruptions.

Identify your Constraints and Hone your skills

Proper prior preparation prevents poor performance. The best skilled and knowledgeable you become on a key task, the faster and better you will work on them. Use your previous experiences in key tasks, where the lack of any skill, impacts your motivation and focus on a task in order to identify your choke points. Then focus on alleviating the impact of these constraints. The more prepared you are, the less likely you will put off any task.

Fight Procrastination by always Getting Started

In 1927, the Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik found that waiters remembered orders only as long as the order was in the process of being served. In fact, adults remember unfinished tasks up to 90% better than finished ones. Therefore, we have an intrinsic need for closure. The tension and seeking for closure that an unfinished idea creates is known as the Zeirgarnik effect. So make the first step, start working on the task you want to accomplish.

How to stay focused and not fall into the procrastination

Maximize your personal powers.
 We all have periods of higher mental and physical energy, use yours to work on the most critical and most important task. You must reconsider exercising. It is time to leave the excuse "I'm tired of work. I will do it tomorrow when I have more energy." If you feel that your energy, is barely enough to meet your workday, it is a HUGE sign you need to exercise. Exercise, especially Cardio, helps you to increase your energy and endurance. In addition, oxygenates your brain and generates endorphins good for memory and spirit.

Related articles: Coping with Stress at Work

Plan your day in advance. Create a big To-Do list, which includes all your duties regardless of the deadline, and a daily To-Do list for what needs to be done tomorrow. Use the last 15 minutes of every day, to create your To-Do list for the following day and organize your schedule. Every morning recheck that list before starting to work.

Track your progress. It is easy to start working but difficult to maintain commitment. Divide a large goal into smaller tasks. It will allow you not only to avoid being overwhelmed by the big goal but to measure your progress. Moreover, the feeling of accomplishment generated by meeting goals will help you move forward. Finally, you will have more visibility on what you have done and on how much effort is left.

Put pressure on yourself. Works as if you were to leave town tomorrow, and no one were to assume your responsibilities until you return. If this were to happen, you would have to focus on the primary tasks. They must be completed today as they cannot wait for your return. In addition, you can help yourself to take action through public promises and putting your reputation on the line. Commit yourself to your colleagues, customers, and bosses to accomplish certain tasks or objectives, it will encourage you to take action. Given that breaking your commitments affects your image as a professional.

Motivate yourself into action. Focusing only on the difficulties of a task generates demotivation. Instead, stay positive and think of solutions that allow you to move forward rather than getting stuck thinking about the problem.

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Take breaks. Skipping meals, working late, and spending sleepless nights, will not help you to be more productive. On the contrary, fatigue is one of the main reasons why you cannot concentrate. Remember that your brain is your primary tool, so give it sufficient recovery periods for the ideas to flow. The best ideas come when you least expect them, therefore, don't be afraid to step away from your work to clear your mind.

Create a 50-minute playlist. If you want to concentrate, relax and track your time, nothing is easier than creating a Playlist with your favorite songs, which last and specific period of time. I prefer 50 or 90 minutes, as it is enough time to concentrate, work on a single task, get stuff done, and then take a 5-10 minute break to prepare either to carry on or to jump into another task. Music will help you avoid distractions, especially if you wear headphones, as it sends a message to the rest of the people that you don't want to be disrupted unless it is necessary. Take into account that Short bursts of hard work followed by quick breaks are an easier way to get stuff done, than trying to do everything at once.

Related articles: Benefits of Listening to Music at Work

Reward yourself. Find ways to stay motivated to meet or exceed your goals. Try setting goals that if fulfilled are rewarded. Let's say you need to submit a report on Friday, and today is Monday. For example, if on Tuesday, you have completed 70% of the report, you will go and buy a milkshake, some cookies, or both for yourself. If by Thursday at 10am, you have already summited the report, you will leave earlier that day to see your family or to meet a friend.

Avoid perfectionism. Don't waste time obsessively perfecting a task when you could better spend that time on something else.

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