It’s entirely possible that you’re reading this post in an attempt to delay taking on that next big task for just a few minutes longer. Luckily, this was written especially for you. Sometimes, despite our best intentions, starting a new project or checking off that next item on a to-do list seems tantamount to summiting Everest. Procrastination is a productivity killer and even the most efficient, steadfast workers aren’t immune.
There’s an old Scottish proverb that says, “What may be done at any time will be done at no time.” Here are a few tips to help you break free from the grip of procrastination and get your productivity back on track.
Break it up
Sometimes, just the overall scope of a big, new project is enough to trigger a serious case of procrastination. Whether it’s intimidation, fear of failure, or lack of time, there are a wide variety of contributing factors that can cause you to start searching for ways to put off starting as long as possible. Before you get overwhelmed, try breaking the project up into smaller, more manageable tasks. It’s easier to stay motivated if you are able to chalk up a few small victories along the way to achieving your overall goals.
Create a timeline
Once you’ve identified all the individual tasks required to complete the project, the next important step is to put them into a timeline. Think of it as a roadmap. Instead of driving around, getting lost, making wrong turns, or stopping at every roadside attraction along the way, you will have a well-planned route of how to get from point A to point B. And you’ll be more likely to stay on track if you have a series of deadlines and goals to help maintain your forward momentum.
Start with the hardest tasks first
If there’s a particular task that you’re especially reluctant to take on, you’ve found your starting point. Get it over with and move on. Taking care of the most difficult pieces of a project at the beginning when you’re still fresh and motivation levels are high not only clears away major hurdles, but also helps you focus more on the finish line.
Shut out the world
Procrastination and distractions often go hand in hand. When you’re looking for a reason to avoid starting a project, coworkers, email, phone calls, and Facebook are always welcome interruptions. Find a place where you can shut yourself off from the world and just focus on the tasks at hand.
Unfortunately, it’s very easy to procrastinate, and often quite enjoyable. But keep in mind that the further you let yourself fall behind, the harder it will be to catch up. The next time you’re handed a new project, don’t hesitate to jump in and get started. There will be plenty of time for wasting time when you’re finished.
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