When it comes to getting stuff done, many of us are our own worst enemy. We procrastinate in any way possible. We might make up emergency tasks that must be accomplished before real work can begin, or allow minor details to become stumbling blocks, or get so stressed out by the ticking clock that we can’t concentrate.
If only we could generate this level of creativity when it was time to get down to work. But the good news is that with a little soul-searching, we can fight procrastination and reclaim productivity. It’s all about figuring out what’s standing in our way. These tips can help.
1. Beat impostor syndrome.
Your performance reviews are top-notch, you’re hitting all your goals, and coworkers and clients love you. There’s just one problem: you have no idea why. Worse, you’re waiting for everyone to figure out that you don’t know what you’re doing.
You have impostor syndrome, a lack of self-confidence and feelings of fraudulence that plague many successful people. Feeling bad takes a lot of time and energy that you could be spending on your actual work; beat impostor syndrome and get back your focus. (Hint: letting go of perfectionism is often a first step.)
2. Reclaim your time.
It’s hard to concentrate when you’re constantly being interrupted by coworkers’ questions and last-minute meetings.
“Set aside a few hours each day to work uninterrupted,” suggests Emmie Martin at Business Insider. “That means no calls, no emails, and no chatting with coworkers. You’ll get a lot more done once you let yourself become fully invested in a project without splitting your attention elsewhere.”
Want to beat procrastination? Set aside a few hours to concentrate on getting stuff done.
3. Make a list before it’s go-time.
Even inveterate list-makers can get distracted when they’re trying to sort out priorities under pressure. A better way to do things: make your list the night before, when you’re calmer and not putting out fires.
4. Break it up.
…your project, I mean. Breaking up a big goal into smaller sub-goals can help you realize your progress along the way. It’s easier to stay motivated when you have evidence that you’re getting somewhere.
At Mashable, Nellie Akalp explains:
Procrastination often results when you’re overwhelmed by the enormity of a task. Staring at a task like “start a business” or “launch a website” on your to-do list can seem a little daunting. Success depends on your ability to break down a big project into a series of smaller steps, ones that you can actually act on.
If you find yourself failing to make headway on something, break it down into the smallest tasks possible. Then assign each task to a day on the calendar (even if it’s just for 15 minutes one day). With each small task you complete, you’ll be gaining momentum and getting a psychological boost as you see progress.
5. Eat the frog.
What’s the secret to getting more done? According to Brian Tracy, author of Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, it’s tackling your toughest task first, so that you can go about the rest of your day with relative ease.
“Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worse things that is going to happen to you all day long,” Tracy writes. “Your ‘frog’ is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.”
Got two frogs? Tracy advises eating the uglier one first. The goal is to start each day with a clean slate. If you hurry, you can get tomorrow’s frog all picked out and ready to go.
Tell Us What You Think
Are you a reformed procrastinator? We want to hear your tips. Share your story in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.