‘Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.’
You know what you should be doing right now but you just can’t make yourself do it.
You’re just not in the mood.
“I have plenty of time to get it done.” That’s what you tell yourself right?
You check your email and social media accounts for the millionth time but there is nothing new there.
You watch a couple of meaningless videos and stop by a few forums before checking social media. Again.
The day is almost over and what did you get done?
You didn’t do any of the important things you set out to do today and now you’re feeling guilty and stressed out for having wasted so much time.
In this post you will learn that though procrastination is common, preventing it is easier than you think.
What is Procrastination
Procrastination is the habitual action of delaying or putting off important tasks for a later time.
Research shows that around 20% of American adults are frequent procrastinators and around 50% of the university students in America confess that they have been involved in procrastination willingly or unwillingly on a long-term basis.
Productivity plays an important role in the success of an individual.
According to the author of “The Richest Man in Babylon”, procrastination is one of the major factors which distinguishes a victorious man from a failure.
Why do People Procrastinate
To stop procrastination you need to realize that you are doing it and the reasons why you do it.
People procrastinate for a number of reasons including:
- Fear of failure
- Fear of criticism
- Feeling depressed or anxious
- Being too much of a perfectionist
- Confusion if a task seems too difficult
- Underestimation of the time it will take to complete a task
- Focusing on the present and not on the future
Effects of Procrastination
Have you ever noticed that even though you delay important tasks to avoid stress or other unpleasant feelings that is exactly how you end up feeling anyway.
You are racked with guilt for having wasted time and you feel so ashamed when you see others being productive and getting things done.
One of the worst ways to live is to live with regrets.
Chronic procrastinators will tell you that they feel a lot of regret for all the opportunities they missed because of procrastination.
Successful entrepreneurs, idealists, and businessmen advise not to waste even a single second of your day as time is the most precious asset you could ever get. It cannot be bought; it cannot be sold.
10 Steps to Prevent Procrastination
Here are 10 steps you should follow to prevent the habit of procrastination and start being productive today.
1. Build your Self-esteem
Self-esteem plays a critical role in being successful in your life and that is why it is widely recommended by psychologists to increase self-esteem and never depreciate yourself.
2. Start doing your task now
The author of “The Power of Now”, Eckhart Tolle, says that “The past has no power over the present moment”.
You may have had a lot of failures in your life. It doesn’t matter what kind of past you had, the only thing that matters is your “now”.
It’s understandable that you may be demotivated by the regrets you have of the past. “Now” determines your future.
3. Create a timetable
According to some professionals, working ten straight hours without any strategy is equal to working one hour with a clear and vivid plan.
It is suggested to create a timetable at night for the next day which will not only motivate you but will also give your productivity a boost.
By using the Pomodoro Technique, which suggests working for 25 minutes and then taking a short break of 5-10 minutes, you can increase your productivity.
This break will increase your mental energy and increase your attention span which will allow you to be more productive.
4. Do not overestimate your capability
Persons who try to quit procrastination sometimes overestimate their capabilities and expect themselves to work more than they are actually able to.
Bill Gates once said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
Break your tasks up and set deadlines which will make your tasks more manageable.
By using this strategy, you will not get demotivated and will continue the journey of overcoming procrastination.
5. Get yourself a motivator
If you get demotivated there is nothing to worry about. This is common every now and again.
One tip which is most commonly recommended is to share your targets and goals with a like-minded person you trust.
They will not only motivate you to get back on track but will also listen to your successes which will motivate you to accomplish more.
6. Organizing the work environment
Do you notice how places like spas, doctor’s offices or restaurants are decorated?
It is to create a certain ambience or evoke a type of feeling that will achieve a desired outcome.
Never underestimate the power of your work environment.
Research proved that employees who feel comfortable in their offices are more productive and tend to procrastinate less as compared to others.
7. Reward yourself
You can increase your motivation by rewarding yourself at the end of the day if you have accomplished all your planned tasks.
This reward can be a free weekend after five tiring productive days or a night out.
The whole point of this is to appreciate your hard work and making yourself ready for the next set of challenges.
8. Differentiate between ADHD and procrastination
This is an important part which you should consider at first as ADHD can cause long-term procrastination and simple methods would not be enough to treat ADHD. For this, you should consult a professional doctor or psychiatrist.
9. Prioritizing the tasks
Breaking any habit takes a lot of hard work and the probability that you will fall off the wagon when you are starting out is very high.
This means that you may very well end up procrastinating again and delaying your tasks.
To minimize the risk of procrastinating again, prioritize your tasks by creating an ordered list of all the tasks you need to do and start with the most important tasks first.
10. Discover your productivity hours
Productivity hours differ from one person to the next, for instance, I am at my most productive early in the morning from around 5am.
You need to discover your productivity hours and do your tasks then.
Procrastination is very common and the steps outlined in this guide are actionable steps that will help you prevent procrastination.
Now that you have learnt how to prevent procrastination, check out this post on taking action to achieve your goals.