5 practical tips for avoiding procrastination

Each of us could easily name 10 things we hate doing, such as housework or taxes. The truth? Constantly putting them off only makes matters worse. If you really want a change in life to get things done, then you'll have to overcome your habit of procrastinating. Here are five quick tips to help you.

5 practical tips for avoiding procrastination

[Photo Credit: iStock.com/luxizeng]

1. Put it on your calendar

Urgent things always get done because they cry for attention, but let's face it: the really "important" things on your to-do list are rarely urgent. That's why you have to schedule them in just like any other task.

  • Keep an updated calendar in which you write the name of the task and any deadlines related to it. You can do this on your computer and set "to-do" reminders. Or else you can go old-school and jot it down on a printed calendar.

Just like if you wanted to run a marathon, you'd need to schedule training sessions; and if you want to write a novel, you'd set aside time to write.

  • Clearly scheduled time for certain chores don't make them any easier to endure, however you'll have no excuse to say there wasn't enough time.

2. Start your day off productively

It's easy to start your workday by checking your email because you're still trying to wake up. But things usually just go downhill from there.

  • To make headway on the things that are important to you, you need to work on your major goals first thing in the morning when you have the most energy and focus.
  • Whether you're working on personal or career goals, early in the day is usually the best time to make real progress.

3. Schedule "interruptions"

In a perfect world, you could just sit down when the creative mood strikes and work on your novel for 10 hours or more. But life is busy and you will have interruptions.

  • Since every interruption takes time away from working on your goals, it's a good idea to take care of them at a specified time. For example, instead of checking your email whenever a notification pops up, you could check set aside time to check them every few hours.
  • Likewise with social media. Don't keep your personal Facebook page or Twitter feed open as you work. It's both distracting and tempting to check them every few minutes.

4. Ensure you keep putting in the time required

Major goals cannot be reached overnight. Most worthwhile things in life simply take time to accomplish. That's why you need to make a recurring effort to meet your goals by keeping a standing commitment to work towards them.

  • If you start off by exercising 10 minutes each day, that's a good step in the right direction. Little chunks of time add up to big results over the long term.
  • Even an hour a week spent writing your novel will get you to the finished product eventually.

Needless to say, the more time you have to work towards your goals, the sooner you'll get there.

  • The important thing is to be realistic about how much time you'll need and ensure that if you do the task in small increments, you don't underestimate the total number of hours required.

5. Develop good daily habits

How do successful people get things done? Do they have superhuman willpower that makes them get the work done instead of goofing off? No, they don't. Instead, they build habits into their daily routine.

  • As long as you don't try to establish more than one habit at a time, building a habit is the easiest way to stop procrastinating.
  • To help you stop procrastinating in the future, give yourself one to three months to establish a new habit before you add another one.
  • A good habit can be something as simple as eating lunch away from your desk at work. A small break from your desk at lunchtime has been shown to boost productivity and encourage creativity
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