Suck it, Procrastination: 7 Tips for Beating it
Your bedroom has never looked tidier. Your bathroom? Spotless. You’ve sent approximately 176 memes to your bestie (she’s onto you by the seventh one). Oh, and that book you’ve been meaning to read? Finished it – all 834 pages.
That’s procrastination 101 right there. And, unfortunately, it doesn’t do you any good.
You see, despite getting through all that stuff, you just can’t seem to shake that ugly feeling in the pit of you stomach that says you still have work to do. Work that you need to do. Because, y’know, it pays your bills and furthers your career and gives you all those lovely warm fuzzies that come with doing something you love.
And that icky feeling you’re currently battling? It’s gross.
So how do you tackle it? Here are some of my tips to help you beat the hecking heck out procrastination.
No Matter How Big The Task, Just Begin
Starting can feel like the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do. You could have planned the biggest event of the year, broken a bone or gone full Jessica Jones and saved New York City again, you bad-arse boss lady you, but right now all those things pale in comparison to that mountain of work sitting on your desk and awaiting you in your inbox.
So sometimes you just have to start anywhere. Our tip is to pick the easiest, most manageable task you have and begin there.
Terrified of moving on to the bigger stuff? Squash that fear by breaking those larger tasks down into small, manageable increments that feel achievable. Once you’ve done this, you can spread it out, working on it bit by bit. You might even find that once you’re in the flow of things you just keep on powering forward. And that’s awesome.
So, in short: just begin.
Limit your distractions
In our blog intro we shared a couple of examples of the kinds of things we mysteriously begin to find pressing and important – read: distracting – when we’re procrastinating. And they’re just the tip of the iceberg. These distractions seem to grow in number and become more and more prevalent when we’re racing towards something, like a looming deadline or our task list unexpectedly doubles at the last minute.
Case in point: your Giant List of Doom (aka work tasks) is hugemungous, yet your house is miraculously immaculate, the dog’s loving itself sick because it’s been walked not once but twice, you’ve spoken to your Mum on the phone for an hour because you haven’t called her in, like, ages, and those boxes of old clothes you’ve been saying you’ll organise for the last 3 years have been dealt with thanks to your in-depth analysis of Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.
While it’s great that you’ve ticked off all these wonderful things on your to-do list, there’s probably a very good chance said things weren’t all that urgent. Be conscious of what you know will distract you and try to avoid getting sucked into it by reminding yourself that there will be other times to deal with these tasks. Close the laundry door if you’re feeling tempted to hang out some washing or install a website blocker on your computer so you’re not drawn into Facebook threads.
Reward yourself for completing a task
You did it! You did the thing! WELL DONE. And now… you have to do another thing. Urghhh. We recommend that instead of moving onto Phase: Micro Existential Crisis, that you find a way to reward yourself. After all, you really did do the thing.
The way to do this is: write down your to-do list, then pick the one thing you’re dreading most. Now do that first. Yes, really.
Once it’s done (and gosh, it’s going to feel so flipping good when it is done), it’s Reward Time! Ding!-ding!-ding! You might remove your social media blocker for 10 minutes, dance it out to your favourite tune or savour a piece of chocolate. And now? You get to move onto a task you actually like. And, once again, reward yourself once it’s done. Yup, it’s very cool if we do say so ourselves. This alternating of tasks can make it so much easier to tackle your workload, because you’re balancing out the good and not-so-good vibes work is giving, and you get a little treat each time you do. That’s a winner in our book.
Ask yourself: what’s the positive outcome of completing my tasks?
You’re just over it and you absolutely deserve to curl up on the couch with a good book or hit the pub with your mates – if only you didn’t have all this flipping work to do. URGH. So you say FLIP IT, and read that book and hit the pub with your mates, and now you’ve returned to your pile of work and omfg it is So. Much. Bigger Now. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN. Worse still, you brought on a fresh bout of wailing as you’ve now realised you need to block out the entire weekend to do what you’ve neglected.
It’s moments like these where you really have to think about what you’re trading in for that extra free time during your work time, and how you can get through your work, even when you’re not feeling it, and come out the other side with a positive that’s more than just “the work is done.” It might mean that by completing that stack of work this week that you’ll have a four-day week next week; or, instead of being forced to work during the weekend, you’ll be able to follow through with your plans with friends.
Whatever it is, keep it in your mind when you approach a task, or write it down and stick it on the side of your computer screen to remind you.
Have a think: what positive outcomes would motivate you to get through your next batch of work when you’re not feeling up to it?
Find someone who will keep you accountable
Sometimes just knowing that someone – your boss, a client, etc – is expecting work from you is enough to get your mind into gear and ready to knock out the work that needs to be done. But for those who don’t work in a traditional office environment – entrepreneurs, side hustlers and small business owners, we’re looking at you! – it can be hard to stay accountable to the tasks you’ve set out to do without that additional pressure.
Enter: your accountability partner – the person you’ve nominated to check in with you to say, “Hey, how’s that work going?” Knowing that question is coming ensures you’ll be a little more on top of your game and less likely to be wallowing in disappointment at the end of the week.
Have a good, long think about why you’re procrastinating
Procrastination is borne out of many things. For some it’s resentment that despite loving the work, it eats into your free time; for others it’s the weighty expectations of perfectionism and the fear of not being good enough, so choosing not to start at all feels safer.
Whatever the reason may be, take note of it. It may be different each time, it may be the same, but the important thing is that once you’re aware of why you’re procrastinating, you can find a way to combat it so it doesn’t stand in your way and hold you back from achieving all the greatness you’ve set out to do.
Be kind to yourself
Procrastination is a beast to be reckoned with and, sometimes, it gets a little out of control.
Playing the blame game with yourself deepens resentment of your work and only makes it more difficult to get back into the swing of it. Accept that you’ve lapsed and forgive yourself so you can keep moving forward in a positive direction. You can do the thing!
What are your top tools for beating procrastination?
Feel free to share them in the comments!
Samantha Kodila is the Content and Administration Assistant for The Social School. She’s also a freelance copywriter, travel writer, editor and content creator. She’s getting better at tackling procrastination, and rewards herself by watching Marvel shows on Netflix (she’s also super salty about the cancellation of her beloved Daredevil and will be rewatching) Catch her on Insta where she ‘grams pics of flowers, coffee spots and her travel adventures @samantha.kodila.