How to combat procrastination

Image via Thinkstock
Image via Thinkstock

Some simple tips to get you going

By Lauren Paulsen, Senior Columnist

Procrastination. Unfortunately, everyone gives in to it at some point. But it’s time to stop listening to it and kick it out of your life. It is not your friend.

Procrastination can be so tantalizing at the time. Why not give in to the temptation of playing that video game now? Or going out with your friends? Maybe you’ve been itching to binge that show you just have to see. You can always do that other thing later, right? Usually when someone thinks like this, later always becomes the last minute.

But motivating yourself to work is harder than giving in to something fun. So how do you do it?

One of the biggest reasons that people procrastinate is because they don’t want to do whatever it is they need to do. The best way to get over this is to take care of those unwelcome tasks first thing during your day. Of everything you have to do that day, do the thing you dread most first. This not only takes the overhanging dread of doing the task away for the rest of the day, it will also give you a sense of accomplishment that will last and make your day brighter.

Another reason people procrastinate is because they are overwhelmed by a large undertaking or with the number of things that they need to do. The easiest way to deal with this is to make lists. List everything that you need to do and break the larger tasks down into smaller ones. Work on your biggest tasks first, and whenever you complete a task, cross it off your list. Seeing the progress you make is a great incentive to keep going. Lists are your friends.

If you are finding it hard to find the motivation to start, then set up rewards for whenever you finish a task. Just make sure that the reward always equals the task done. If it’s a small task, don’t treat yourself to something big. Also, make sure that you work on those important tasks first. According to the 20/80 Rule, only 20 per cent of your tasks are really important. Most people tend to spend their time working through the 80 per cent that are not as important. Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment. It’s not the number of things you do, but the quality of those things.

Think of the consequences if you should succeed in finishing this task, or should you fail. These positive and negative consequences can both be powerful motivators to help you get started on those tasks and get them done.

Try to make it into a game. Challenge yourself to beat those deadlines as fast as you can, while still doing your best at those tasks.

It can be really hard to get over procrastination, but when you start working you will often build momentum. Whenever you complete an important task, your brain releases endorphins, making you feel good. You can actually gain a positive addiction to this feeling of success, and you’ll want to complete more and more tasks. All you have to do is take that first step to begin. Now, stop reading and go get those important things done! Take that first step!