First, here is what you need to know about procrastination:
- Procrastination is the act of unnecessarily postponing decisions or actions.
- You procrastinate because factors such as anxiety or fear of failure outweigh your motivation and self-control.
- You can successfully overcome your procrastination by implementing techniques that allow you to deal with the issues that cause you to procrastinate in the first place.
If you need basic advice on how to stop procrastinating right now, here are some things you can do:
- Make your environment as conducive to taking action as possible. For example, you can remove distractions from your work environment, even if you’re not yet ready to get started on your work.
- Arrange some immediate reward that you’ll receive if you manage to get started. This reward can be relatively small, but the important thing is that you’ll receive it in the very near future.
- Ask yourself “if I were to take action right now, what’s the smallest possible step I could take?”. Then, tell yourself that it’s okay if you just get started on that single tiny step, and try to do it, even if your work isn’t perfect.
In addition, you can also ask yourself “what’s causing me to procrastinate?”, and then think through the cause of your procrastination and try to resolve it. For example, if your issue is that you’re afraid that you won’t be able to handle the task well enough, you can tell yourself that even if you make a mistake, that’s not the end of the world, and you can correct it later on.
If you want to understand how to stop procrastinating in the long term, here is the systematic approach that you should use:
- Figure out what your goals are, and make sure that they’re clearly defined, possible to accomplish, and significant enough to allow you to achieve meaningful progress.
- Figure out when, how, and why you procrastinate, by examining situations where your tendency to postpone things is preventing you from achieving your goals.
- Create a plan of action based on relevant anti-procrastination techniques, while taking into account both your goals as well as the nature of your procrastination.
- Implement your plan and monitor your progress, while making sure to refine your approach by figuring out which techniques work for you and how you can implement them most effectively.
Finally, here are some of the top anti-procrastination techniques you can use:
- Break large tasks into small, actionable pieces.
- Set concrete deadlines for yourself.
- Eliminate distractions from your environment.
- Count to 10 before indulging the impulse to procrastinate.
- Get yourself started by committing to work for only 5 minutes.
- Mark streaks of days on which you complete all your tasks.
- Reward yourself for your accomplishments.
- Avoid a perfectionist mindset.
- Visualize your future self.
- Focus on your goals instead of on your tasks.
The main goal of these techniques is to help you deal with the reasons why you procrastinate in the first place. For example, while ‘break large tasks into small, actionable pieces’ is generally seen as a time-management technique, its main goal here is to help you transform overwhelming projects into something that feels manageable, which will prompt you to stop procrastinating on them and start taking action.
Overall, this approach for dealing with procrastination is fairly intuitive, and you can implement it based only on what you’ve read in this summary.
However, you will significantly benefit from looking through the full guide, which explains all the small details that will help you implement this approach as effectively as possible. This includes, for example, how to set good goals for yourself, how to identify the nature of your procrastination problem, and how to pick the best techniques for dealing with procrastination in your specific situation.
If you don’t feel like implementing the full system right now, you can still benefit from just picking a few relevant anti-procrastination techniques listed here, and implementing them whenever you can.
Nevertheless, if you want to have the best chance that you can have at beating your procrastination, you will benefit more from using the full system and reading this entire article, even if it takes you some time to do so.