All of us have procrastinated at one point or another, which is not unusual at all. There is even a saying that states, "Everyone procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator."
However, according to Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University's College of Science and Health in Chicago, around 20 percent of U.S. adults are chronic procrastinators. For these people, procrastination is a major part of their lifestyle.
Being afflicted with chronic procrastination is one of the worst things that can happen, particularly to creative professionals and entrepreneurs. You end up with a mountain of work that could have been easily avoided if it was done on time.
Prolonged procrastination leads to a slippery slope. You lose opportunities, increase chances of ruining your career and reputation, make bad decisions, your self-esteem suffers, and eventually you damage your physical health and mental well-being with all the stress that comes with it.
"Non-procrastinators focus on the task that needs to be done," explains Dr. Ferrari in an interview with the American Psychological Association. "They have a stronger personal identity and are less concerned about what psychologists call 'social esteem'—how others like us—as opposed to self-esteem which is how we feel about ourselves."
If you have a persistent habit of putting tasks off and waiting until the last minute to do those things, you may be a procrastinator and it's time you stop your procrastination tendencies.
Useful Tips to Stop Procrastinating
If your habit of doing a 10-hour job in 30 minutes (which ends up spectacularly botched), and a 30-minute job in 10 hours is becoming tiresome and frustrating, read on below for useful tips you can use to finally put a stop to your procrastinating tendencies.
1. Set a Glaring Reminder
The problem with procrastinators is not forgetting impending tasks, rather they remember it. But, instead of getting over with it, they delay and then stress over it. To avoid this maddening circle, set a glaring reminder of those tasks that keeps glaring at you until you are forced to begin working on them.
Get a checklist of the tasks that need to be done along with their deadlines. Put the checklist up on places where you can see them frequently: the refrigerator door, your desktop, your room door, etc.
Since the advent of speedy internet connectivity, doing things manually has gone out of question for the indolent lot. So, you can make use of the Lanes app; it’s a great planning and organizing app with a journal, calendar and your own personal time manager.
The Finish app, on the other hand, lets you make a to-do list with deadlines, pings you when a due date is approaching, and tracks any delays that occur to get the tasks done.
2. Set Your Work Time
Set a specific time for when you are supposed to work. Make sure that around that dedicated time you are at the place of work and there are no distractions in your vicinity.
Tell all your friends and family that you have that time dedicated to your work, so they end up reminding you that you have commitments.
3. Erase ‘tomorrow’ and ‘later’ Out of Your Vocabulary
Procrastinators love to tell themselves that they would do the work later or tomorrow. But the truth is that tomorrow or later never comes.
Whenever you procrastinate and think that you will do it later, tell yourself that it’s a big fat lie; either you are doing it now or never.
4. Kick Out Your Distractions
If you finally settle down with the good intention of getting your work done, evil minions like your cell phone, the Internet, Netflix, social media, or games turn up and wreak havoc on your concentration. When you have devoted a time slot to that task, make sure that you are boxing away everything that distracts you.
Of course, it isn’t easy, but remind yourself that you can have all of them after you are done with your tasks and imagine how stress-free you would be afterward.
Take help of anti-procrastination apps like AppDetox that helps you limit your app usage. BaTo.life lets you set boundaries on web surfing and the Checky app records the number of times you check your phone, so you can curb your frequent phone-checking habit.
5. Call the Police
Procrastination is a serious crime, but we don’t mean you to call 911 even though there is a need to police a serial and sly procrastinator, who fools his apps and checklists or even delays the deadline in the app. This sort of procrastinator needs policing of an actual person, not too much but an occasional nagging will do.
Ask your friend or someone from family to question you on your tasks or chores, or nag you once a day in to get the job done. This human reminder can be more effective since it puts a certain psychological pressure on you to get things done; after all, you don’t want to invite anyone’s disapproval, do you?
A word of caution: ask your friend to nag you only when necessary; extreme nagging can prove to be annoying. On the other hand, your friend might end up being irritated as well. But rest assured, the Beeminder app can do an effective job of nagging you when you don’t meet your goal as it penalizes you for your procrastinating tendencies.
6. Wrestle with the Easy Stuff First
Google your heart out, but all advices on procrastination will tell you to start with the most arduous task of the day then the rest of it would be easy. However, often the thought of starting a difficult task puts you off and you postpone, thinking that you only need to worry about the tough part, the rest of it will be easy peasy.
So, you can go against the advice and try something different; begin with the easy part as it is a piece of cake and will be done soon. Meanwhile, you can up for the difficult part. Once you are spurred into activity, it may give you enough encouragement to continue and get everything done in one go.
7. Treat It Like a Game
Thinking of your tasks as a game can help you tackle procrastination in a fun way. Every task you complete wins you points against the villain i.e. procrastination. After clearing one round, give yourself a treat and a pat on the back.