Are you dreading your colleagues asking you if you have got started on that very important project? Or can’t you bring yourself to start that slideshow for that boardroom meeting? Everything can seemingly wait until tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after that, and even then, once that day arrives, you are doing anything but the task – chatting to colleagues, texting your friends, watching a movie etc. the list goes on.
The funny thing is, it’s a vicious circle – the longer you leave it, the more likely you are to procrastinate. You have left it till the day before, so can’t it wait just a little bit longer? Well, the answer is no.
Trust me, the older you get, it doesn’t get any easier. It’s not because you’re an adult, or that you have a jet-setting career that you don’t ever procrastinate – the best of us are guilty of it. But here’s the Rebel guide to actually getting things done efficiently even when you’re not feeling at your most productive.
1. Stop Putting Yourself Off
All things worth doing aren’t simple, but that doesn’t mean they’re ridiculously impossible either. Plus, you’ll feel an immense sense of accomplishment once it’s done properly. On the other hand, if you procrastinate, you are making things more difficult for you, and therefore they will be ridiculously impossible. Don’t make your life more complicated than it has to be!
Also, you can test yourself by sending the right message to your brain. Now, before you raise your eyebrows at this article, I can assure you don’t have to be a scientist. Our brain has two parts - the part that pushes you into kick-starting that workload and the not so motivated part. The trick is to set your mind into thinking that you can do it. Soon enough, it will become a habit - you won’t even have to think about it anymore.
2. Don't Start With The Easiest Task
Rumor has it, you can beat procrastination by starting with the easiest task. Our advice is to ignore this rumor. Starting with the easiest task is more likely to make you procrastinate as you will think you have done one thing on your list and that it’s ok to stop there for today. If it’s the easiest task, save it for the end if possible, it will be a treat for you to do after all that hard work!
In fact, do the opposite - start by your hardest tasks. It has been proven that starting by the hardest task is the best policy because the other tasks won’t seem so daunting. As Brian Tracy explains in Eat That Frog, you have to quite literally eat the ugliest frog, a metaphor of your hardest task. All the unappealing tasks have to be done first in order to treat yourself to the easier, laid-back ones at the end.
3. Be Organized
This advice has been tried and tested out by myself – being organized will help you get over the initial thought of “this is too hard to start now”. Break down what you have to do in several parts so that you have that sense of accomplishment after each part, and you will feel great pleasure working. If you have to prepare a speech for a meeting or a work event, then here’s how you could break it up over 5 days:
Day 1: Research of topic and idea map
Day 2: Introduction + section 1
Day 3: Section 2+3
Day 4: Conclusion
Day 5: Final check
That way, it’s a little easier to digest, and you set yourself plenty of time for you too. You have to find that right balance between over-working and under-working. This leads me onto my next point.
4. Treat Yourself
After you have accomplished a task – treat yourself. I know I like to watch a few episodes of my favorite shows on Netflix, or order myself some sushi. It will make you more likely to want to move on to other tasks and allow you to take a breather, you’ll be more productive afterwards.
5. Work With Someone
If you can work with another person, we highly recommend it as it pushes both of you to get the task done. The work will be divided by 2 and will seem a lot more fun with someone else on board. If you are really motivated, you could even hire a coach to egg you on.
6. Avoid All Distractions
Whether leaving your chatty colleague, or switching your phone off, avoid all distractions and people that could leave you astray, because if you weren’t procrastinating already, you certainly will be with 15 Instagram notifications and your colleague talking you through your week-end, right?
7. Listen To Music Without Lyrics
Before, when I had a huge workload waiting for me, I used to put my favorite songs on, but I just ended up turning into an impromptu karaoké session and I got distracted – try listening to music without any lyrics, so instrumentals if you want, or even classical music if that’s your jam. It will help you relax and read all whilst having a nice ambiance to work in. Look up instrumentals on Spotify and create yourself a work playlist!
8. Pick Your Timing Wisely
If you are a morning person (lucky you), and you feel at your most productive in the morning, then it’s only logical to get down to work in the morning, don’t penalize yourself by working at 7 in the evening. On the other hand, if like me, you are more an afternoon/evening person, then you’re not going to cope well working at 8am. It seems simple enough, but sometimes we push ourselves to work for the sake of it without even thinking of how to make ourselves more efficient.
9. Stop Feeling Guilty
If you are feeling guilty, it’s because you know it has to be done. Coming out with “I haven’t had the time to do it” when you’ve been binge-watching Netflix, or “I’ve still got a few days to do it” when you have a busy weekend ahead of you, isn’t going to help take the pressure or the guilt off of you. If you’re making excuses, it’s because subconsciously, you’re feeling seriously guilty.
10. Think Of Your Goals
If you finish that huge project at work, would that allow you slowly but surely to get promoted? If you prepare your slideshow for the boardroom meeting, then are you going to be able to make new contacts? Think of the long-term goals if you are thinking of some serious motivation to get you started. It may be a little further ahead in the future but it’s definitely enough to get you to dive deep into the work pile!
Have you got any other tips for us to stop procrastinating? How do you get yourself pumped up for a huge workload? Share your advice in the comments, you may even help one of us!
By Emma Philo - Editor at She Is Rebel