How to Stop Procrastinating: 5 Tips You’ll Want to Follow Right Away


Be honest. Is there something else you should be doing right now? Are you procrastinating by reading an article about how to stop procrastinating?

Seriously though, figuring out how to stop procrastinating is hard. We all know that being productive and staying on task at work is important. And many of us have found that procrastinating frequently leads to headaches and stress. Still, there are so many distractions, interruptions, shiny objects and — possibly most tempting of all — social media. Even when we close our office door, shut down our email, and block out Facebook (all great ideas), sometimes we just don’t want to face the task at hand. So we find or create other things to do instead.

Sound familiar?

If so, it’s time to stop slacking and take a stand for your own productivity. Here are five tips that you can implement right now to help stop procrastinating:

1. Take the long(er) view. It’s been said that discipline is rejecting what you want now in favor of what you want most. When you’re tempted to procrastinate, consciously consider whether putting off your work will set you up for success or lead to future problems and last-second scrambling. Is a moment of distraction today worth the consequences of missing a deadline later? Think about it.

2. Learn from your “inner procrastinator.” Perry Marshall, a CEO and author, has an interesting perspective on procrastination: The more you want to procrastinate on a particular task, the more important that task probably is. To learn how to stop procrastinating, listen to the voice in your head that tells you to procrastinate. Recognize which duties that voice talks about the most and the loudest; then redouble your efforts to stay focused when working on them.

3. Tackle work little by little. If you’re facing a big assignment that seems daunting, first break it up into several smaller tasks that you can tackle one at a time. Break those tasks down even further if you need to. If you know your next project will take several hours, start by working on it for a shorter spell. By purposely approaching big tasks a little at a time, you can trick yourself into getting started “just for a few minutes” rather than procrastinating. Chances are you’ll get some momentum going and end up doing more than you planned.

4. Guard against burnout. Sometimes we procrastinate because we’re mentally fatigued and feel like we never get a break. If you have to, build breaks into your daily planning, just like meetings. Scheduling some time for yourself is a way to refresh and recharge. Simply knowing you have a 15-minute break coming up can help you keep your focus.

5. It doesn’t have to be perfect from the start. Voltaire once observed that “Perfect is the enemy of good.” The fact is: sometimes good is good enough. Learning how to stop procrastinating may involve scaling back your perfectionism at the beginning of a project. You can always fix things later. The key is to get started. Granting yourself permission to be imperfect as you start on an assignment can remove much of the pressure that makes you want to procrastinate.

Have a great idea on how to stop procrastinating at work? Share it in the comments below.

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