5 Ways to Beat Pervasive Procrastination

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What is the archenemy of any wanna-be productive worker?

A lack of time? Uncomfortable workplace? Stress? Loneliness? Depression?

It’s more prosaic:


Most of us procrastinate without thinking about it. We check Instagram instead of writing; drink coffee and read Facebook news feeds to avoid studying; and get lost in meaningless phone games to avoid talking to people.

Here’s why:

According to psychologists, we procrastinate to avoid emotionally unpleasant tasks, substituting them with something that provides a mood boost. Meanwhile, we move further away from our goals.

Here’s the good news: You can beat procrastination.

And while repeated routines and painstakingly crafted new habits will help, the root of your procrastination should be your first focus.

In other words, focus on the emotions that create the urge to procrastinate, and learn to replace those negative emotions with positive ones.

Easier said than done, I know. But all you’re doing is changing your perspective. Envisioning success at the end of a task—the completed chapter of a book, an event that went off without a hitch, or a presentation greeted with a round of applause.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning—when the real work starts—and follow it through to task completion.

1. Combat boredom by getting to work

There are times when you can’t start working on a project because it’s boring. So, create a positive emotional experience by adding something uplifting to them.

For example, monotonous tasks are often performed faster and are easier to complete with music or a podcast running in the background. The entertainment and engagement of listening while working make the task go by more quickly.

Oh, and make sure your boredom-killers don’t kill your productivity. There’s always a risk you’ll get into them and miss deadlines. So if you are playing music, set a timer or make sure the sound is low enough so you can still pay close attention to the task at hand.

Here’s another trick for dealing with dull tasks: Schedule “intermissions” to break up each task.  I like to set strict guidelines for these work breaks. For example, if you’re mired in work at your computer, then set aside 20 minutes in the middle of your computer-based task to leave the office (a must) and walk around without your phone. Nobody can disturb you, and you change your scenery long enough to give your mind a break.

When you return to your desk, you’ll be refreshed and ready to tackle the task with the endpoint—the light at the end of the tunnel—even closer. That alone will give you a positive boost.

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