A lot of things can contribute to procrastination: Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, poor planning, not getting paid on time, lack of attention, and so forth. Maybe even a combination of all the above. On one hand, it can be kind of funny to see the lengths at which we put things off, but the humor grinds to a halt when we realize that by procrastinating, we missed a deadline or failed to complete a project.
Don’t worry, it’s not just you. About a fifth of the population is comprised of chronic procrastinators. That’s a lot of people not completing projects of one kind or another. There’s another train-of-thought regarding procrastination, which while not exactly new, does make a bit of sense: Quite a few individuals who are chronic procrastinators may also suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder or ADHD.
Anyone who has had to deal with any form of attention deficit disorders in their life can tell you that procrastination is a problem.
For some it’s ADD, others bad time management
According to Dr. Timothy Pychyl, strategies that anyone can use and benefit from in terms of managing task engagement, staying on task and facilitating focus are essentially the same for individuals who are more chronically challenged with inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity (all symptoms of ADHD).
That’s not to say that anyone who procrastinates suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder. For more of us, it’s just poor time management skills. Whatever the reason, if it was that easy to solve the procrastination trap, then we’d all be more productive. It’s not quite that easy but hey – riding a bike wasn’t easy the first time you did it either, so consider the following five ways to overcome procrastination.
Five ways anyone can beat procrastination
- Make the commitment – Just starting a task (even if you’re slow off of the blocks) makes it easier to move forward. Next time you find yourself hemming and hawing, just start. SOMETHING. Quite a few illustrator-friends of mine start out by just putting lines on paper. Others who write for a living actually write for themselves first as a way of warming up. Do something to eliminate your version of a blank page or canvas.
- Create short-term deadlines – Most of the time, a deadline signifies the date when an entire project is due. To keep yourself on track, mark the date by which you should complete one quarter of the project, one half, and so on. Those dates will alert you to problems while there’s still time to play catch up. You can even fine tune your deadlines to reflect hourly progress.
- Eliminate distractions – Put away the phone or turn it off, close Facebook, and find a quiet place (or a loud place if you’re the type that need noise to remain focused).
- Accomplish the task in steps – Kind of like creating short-term deadlines, break large tasks into smaller pieces. Smaller steps aren’t as intimidating and are usually easier to get completed. Progress is monitored by focusing only on the next doable step.
- Start with the part of the task you like the most – There’s no law that says you need to write an article in order or paint a picture starting with the face. Go to where you get the most satisfaction and then piece it all together.
Before you know it, your tasks will be completed. You’ll have the positive reinforcement of knowing that it CAN be done and you’ll be motivated to start and complete the next task on your list.
Someone who knows a lot more about procrastination and task completion then I ever will (Dr. Stephanie Sarkis) once wrote: “You have four choices when doing any task: Do it and don’t enjoy it; do it and enjoy it; don’t do it and enjoy it; don’t do it and don’t enjoy it. The choice is yours.”
Make 2016 the year that’s different by getting to work and actually finishing the goals you’ve set out to accomplish!