Mastering procrastination

It sounds so logical: make a schedule and complete it so that you can do what is important on time and then sit back and relax with satisfaction. In practice, procrastination is a trap many people struggle with. We give you 7 tips!

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7 tips om te stoppen met uitstelgedrag

Stop procrastinating today:
7 tips to master your procrastination behavior

It sounds so logical: make a schedule and work through it so that you get everything important done on time and then you can sit back satisfied. Practice is more stubborn; procrastination is a trap that a lot of people struggle with. Whether it’s important projects at work, personal goals, or even everyday tasks, procrastination can be quite a drag on your productivity and growth.

Are you also a procrastinator? Then we have good news: procrastination can be overcome with the right strategies and habits. In this article, we discuss what procrastination behavior is, who is prone to it and offer you 7 practical tips to beat this behavior and be more successful in your career and life.

What is procrastination?

Procrastination is putting off tasks or decisions until a later time, even when you know it could have adverse consequences. It can range from minor procrastination behaviors, such as checking social media instead of working on a report, to serious procrastination actions, such as ignoring important deadlines.

Who is prone to procrastination?

Procrastination can affect anyone, but some types of people may be more prone to this behavior than others. Consider:

Perfectionists: Perfectionism is associated with striving often for flawlessness and fear of failure. This angest can be so paralyzing that you don’t even start a task or fail to complete it. Because you are (unconsciously) afraid of not being able to meet your (own) high standards.

People with a lack of motivation: Lack of intrinsic motivation can make it difficult to get started. Having little interest in a particular task or not seeing the goal as worthwhile can easily lead to procrastination.

Quickly distracted or impulsive people: If you are easily distracted by external stimuli, such as notifications on your phone or conversations from colleagues, it is difficult to focus your concentration on what needs to be done.

Young professionals: The transition from studying to a professional career often brings with it more responsibilities, increasing pressure. You haven’t yet established a routine, and juggling work, social obligations and personal goals can be overwhelming, making it extra tempting to put off tasks.

People with a lack of structure: When you don’t have clear routines or schedules in your daily life, you also don’t have guidelines for managing your time and tasks, making you more susceptible to procrastination.

People with an (overly) optimistic view of time: Procrastination behavior is also common in people who view their time too rosy. These individuals are often less punctual and perfectionist. They tend to be frequently late and easily postpone tasks. For example, they think, “Oh, I have to go to work in an hour. I can walk the dog now, clean the toilet and get rid of the ironing.’

7 tips to overcome your procrastination

1. Work with a schedule

Make a list of what needs to be done and estimate the workload for each task. Overview creates more peace in your mind and thus more room for concentration. Now make a realistic schedule with deadlines. Then make a daily schedule for each day (preferably already the day/evening before). Set priorities and determine what definitely needs to be done that day. And stick to that. This will prevent you from getting distracted by random tasks that pop up in between.

2. Begin!

Don’t wait until you feel “motivated” to start a task, which can lead to endless procrastination. Just start a task, even if you are actually dreading it. You’ll find that once you get started, a lot of things go easier than you estimated beforehand. And once you’ve started, the tendency to keep going until it’s finished is also greater. Plus, the more you dreaded it beforehand, the greater the satisfaction when the job is done. Bonus tip: Delete “I have to …” from your vocabulary and replace it with : I choose to …”.

3. Work in time blocks

Multitasking can lead to inefficiency and procrastination because your attention is divided among multiple tasks. Far better to focus on one task at a time. A commonly recommended tip for procrastinators is the Pomodoro technique. Don’t be distracted by the name, which refers to the shape of the cooking timer used by the technique’s developer. It works as follows:

Choose a task: Start by selecting the task you want to work on.
Set a timer for 25 minutes (this is a pomodoro)
Work on the task: Concentrate fully on the selected task and work on it without any distractions or interruptions for the entire 25 minutes.
Pause: Once the 25 minutes are over, take a short 5-minute break. Use this time to relax, do some breathing exercises, do some stretching, or take a short walk.
Repeat the cycle: After the short break, go back to step 1 and repeat the Pomodoro cycle. Work After four 25-minute “Pomodoros,” you may take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.
Timekeeping: Keep track of how many Pomodoros you have completed. This can help you measure your productivity and monitor your progress.

4. Minimize distractions

The key for anyone who wants to work more purposefully. Identify the sources of distractions in your work environment and take steps to reduce them. So make sure you have an organized workspace with only everything you need for the task at hand, let your colleagues know that you are not available for non-urgent matters, and turn off notifications for e-mail and instant messages during the periods when you want to work with focus.

Chasing perfection can lead to procrastination because you are never satisfied with your work. Try to accept that perfection is rarely attainable and strive for excellence instead.

5. Empower yourself

Don’t be too hard on yourself; instead empower yourself with a positive mindset:

  • Excessive expectations and self-criticism can lead to anxiety and procrastination. Be understanding and accept that everyone procrastinates from time to time.
  • Thoughts such as “I can’t do it” or “It doesn’t make sense” can reinforce your procrastination. Recognize your negative thoughts and replace them with more positive and realistic beliefs.
  • Visualize yourself as a successful professional achieving their goals. Imagine the end result and the positive consequences when you complete a task. This vision will give you fuel to keep going even when the road is bumpy.
  • Give yourself small rewards after completing tasks. This can increase your motivation and reduce procrastination. It could be a piece of chocolate, a walk in the sun or an episode of your favo series.

6. Break up big tasks

Divide large projects into smaller, manageable tasks, or “chunking. This makes big chores less daunting and easier to manage because you have clarity on what intermediate steps are needed to reach the big end goal. Plus, you can reward yourself more often for checking off a task on your list. And that’s motivating.

7. Seek support

Discuss your goals and challenges with friends, family or colleagues. To do so, gather people around you who are knowledgeable and hold you accountable. If a colleague knows what your (self-determined) deadline is for a project, that directly and indirectly helps you stick to it. That other person can check the status from time to time and is less easily fooled (especially if they know about your tendency to put off that particular project). Besides, of course, you’d rather not admit to anyone else that you haven’t achieved your goal. So speak up about your goals; it will help you.

With the right approach and the implementation of these 7 tips, you can increase your productivity, achieve your goals and build a successful career. It takes time and persistence, but the rewards are worth it. So don’t delay and start today!

 

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