Procrastination happens to the best of us. Whether it’s postponing the reorganization of your closet, an assignment at work, or refinancing your home, we’ve all delayed projects that we didn’t want to do at a certain point in time. But procrastination only temporarily makes you feel better.
“Putting off the dreaded item on your list saps your strength,” explains Eva Wisnik, who provides time-management training for lawyers and corporations in New York City. “Checking it off will make you feel super-productive.”
Try one of these get-things-done tips today:
Most of the time, the reason we procrastinate is because there’s something else we’d rather do — whether it’s play the game from the new app you just downloaded, watch TV, call a friend, or browse Facebook. Find out what’s diverting your attention from what the task at hand, and then get rid of it. So for example, put your phone in a drawer, unplug the TV or block entertaining websites. With distractions in your reach, you’re more likely to be tempted to pursue them. But once they’re out of sight, they’re also out of mind, and it will free you up to achieve what needs to be done.
Shrink the task
Sometimes, people procrastinate because they’re overwhelmed by how much needs to get done. Decrease some of that pressure by making the task at hand smaller. For example, if you need to clean three bathrooms in your home, narrow it down to just one and see how you feel. Or, if you have to organize eight boxes, do three. Once you start and see how good it makes you feel, you’ll likely want to do more.
Regroup in the middle of the day
If you know you’re a procrastinator, make sure to check in with yourself — especially if it feels like your morning has flown by without accomplishing much.
“At 2 p.m. every day, assess how much you’ve accomplished, remind yourself of what’s critical, and alter your plan so you can tackle the most important thing,” says Wisnik. This will help you ensure you have enough time to complete the things that need to get done. “If you wait until 5 p.m. to evaluate your day, you’re out of time — and in crisis mode, putting out fires.”
Make a date
With yourself, that is! It may sound strange, but pencil in what you need to do on your calendar or plug it into your smartphone. And treat this designated time slot as you would any other appointment. For instance, don’t schedule conflicting activities and don’t be late. Setting an appointment with yourself will hold you more accountable and help you avoid procrastinating. Think of it this way: You wouldn’t blow off a friend’s plans or a boss’s meeting if you had a scheduled meeting with them, would you?
Work in 10-minute intervals
Ten minutes. That’s it! Set a timer for a short amount of time where you do what needs to be done and nothing else.
“Anyone can do 10 measly minutes,” says Debbie Mandel, a stress-management specialist in New York City and the author of “Addicted to Stress: A Woman’s 7-Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life.” “You may get engrossed and end up working even longer.” That’s because the satisfaction you’ll feel from accomplishing your job within that short time period will trump the negative outlook you had before.
Your time is valuable, so take the advice of the experts and you’ll see your productivity boom.