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Tomorrow. It's a word that really shouldn't enter our minds when it comes to today's tasks. But alas, it does. It can be all-too-easy to say to ourselves: “I'll just do it tomorrow, I don't really have the time or energy to do it today.” Knowing How to Stop Procrastinating at work, or home has SO many advantages!
But then tomorrow comes, and we're tempted to say it again: “I'll just do it tomorrow, I don't really have the time or energy to do it today.” Tomorrow becomes the day after next, and the day after next becomes next week, and next week becomes next month or next year. Constantly rewriting our calendars is a punishing routine, and it makes us feel like failures.
But you know what? The very fact that you clicked on this article tells me something about you: You want to crush work-related procrastination. And, as Martha Stewart has been noted as saying, “That's a good thing.” How does one overcome procrastination? Is it even possible? Will more caffeine help?
Here are some suggestions you can use to get more done today and keep today's tasks from becoming tomorrow's tasks.
How much of a difference do you perceive between your “present self” and “future self”?
Do you think of your future self as actually you, or do you think of your future self as some far off entity; someone you really don't know?
One study showed that thinking of future self more as your actual self can help you increase savings. Here's a quote from the study:
From a pragmatic standpoint, enhancing future self-continuity might encourage people to save for the future. From a philosophical standpoint, individuals who see their future selves as similar may be more likely to sacrifice present pleasure for the benefit of that potential person.
This has some applicable principles for overcoming procrastination. If you think of your future self as actually you (which it is, by the way), you're going to be more likely to sacrifice present pleasure in the short-term for the benefit of yourself in the long-term.
By thinking of your future self more as your actual self and not as some abstract version of you, you can more effectively muster up the will power to do whatever it takes to make your future self happy.
And, getting some work done early is one such thing that will make your future self very, very happy.
If you have a to-do list on your calendar, look at it. Most likely more of your tasks are scheduled sooner rather than later. While this might be done with the best intentions, it can also create the illusion that tomorrow, one week from now, or one month from now is pretty much free.
The problem is that there are many, many unknowns about what you'll have to do tomorrow, one week from now, and one month from now. The problem is that you can't see all the tasks and projects that will pop up when you least expect them.
Say you have to complete some research for your boss. You have two weeks to do it. You know that you have some time to get it done today, but it looks like you have more time to get it done next week.
Little do you know that next week your boss is going to give you some more research to do. And, your kids have a birthday party you have to take them to. And, you're Anniversary snuck up on you… You get the idea.
The question is: Do you really have more time to get it done tomorrow or the next day or the week after that? Maybe, maybe not.
The only thing you really have any control over is now. Tomorrow is probably booked. If you see a window of opportunity to get some work done now, do it. Don't put it off for a day that has a handful of unknowns just waiting to pop up and steal your time away.
Try this: Next time you don't feel like getting some work done, just start. I know that might seem obvious, but if you want to know how to stop procrastinating at work, just start.
There's something about just starting that motivates. I think the best explanation is that when you start a task or project, it becomes started but unfinished. When something is unfinished, it feels messy and unresolved. But I've found for me personally, starting takes the most mental energy. Once I actually start, the rest of the process moves along more smoothly.
If you can push yourself to just start on whatever you feel like procrastinating, you'll find that you have a greater desire to get it done. Plus, the closer you get to completing the task, the more motivation you'll feel to work just a little longer to get it done.
When ever we accomplish a task or finish anything, we get a sense of happiness and fulfillment. It motivates us for more. One tactic to help you know how to stop procrastinating at work is to get (pick) some “low hanging fruit” first.
Make a list of all the tasks you have to get done no matter how small they are. Organize the list into bigger, more challenging tasks and smaller, easier, and quicker tasks. When you do this, you might realize everything that has been rolling around in your head. You could have had a kind-of unperceived overwhelming feeling that was demotivating you and you didn't know why. Well, now you do.
Take that list of ALL the tasks you have to get done, and start hammering out those small ones. You could even try timing yourself. To complete those smaller tasks it might only take you 5 or 10 minutes. If that's the case, you can complete all of those before lunch! Just get them out of the way. This will cause 3 things to happen:
Organization is a challenge for many people, but what might help is figuring out what type of organization style you have. That could give you a HUGE head start.
Even though you know you need to crush procrastination, you might not know how badly you need to do so until you try this little experiment . . . .
For 24 hours, mark down on a piece of paper every time you feel like procrastinating. You might be surprised! Once you know how much room you can grow in this area, you're more likely to quit procrastinating on overcoming your procrastination. Ironic, but it's true. Try it out and leave a comment sharing with our readers how you cope with procrastination!