How to Beat Procrastination

Postponing tasks we don't like is normal and most often harmless. Some of us try to fool ourselves by setting clocks ahead or concluding that we work best under pressure. Problems arise when we let tasks become so overwhelming that we do nothing at all. These tips are to help prevent you from getting to that point.

Pinpoint the Fear

What is preventing you from action? Fear of pain? Fear of rejection, embarrassment or disapproval as in a class assignment or social interaction? Sometimes even fear of discovery or realizing success in an area can prevent us from proceeding.

Slice The Project Into Manageable Pieces

It doesn't have to be done at once. Start with a piece of the task so simple that you cannot possibly justify not doing it. Be Specific About Each Piece: “I will read three pages of chapter 6 on Saturday before lunch," rather than "read chapter 6 this week."

Make a To Do List

Write down a list of things you need to get done and check them off as you complete each one. The satisfaction of being able to cross something off often inspires us to do another.

Use Odd Time as an Ally

Ten minutes while waiting for a friend or a ride can be used to jot notes about a paper or sketch a plan for a project. Expect unfinished business, but remember where you left off.

Try a Buddy System

Find a friend to exchange and give feedback on each other's plans and progress. You and your buddy can keep each other accountable to stay focused and to not get distracted. However, if you know that you do not work well with others or in groups, it may be best to stick to what you know.

Avoid Distractions

What distracts you? People, loud conversations, music, a mobile device, or social media? Recognize your weaknesses and find a way combat them, whether it’s working alone in a quiet room, turning off your phone or downloading an app like SelfControl. You can do it!

Stop Threatening Yourself

Positive reinforcement is more effective. Little rewards after you accomplish a small task can be motivational. For example, an M&M or gummy bear after every paragraph you finish.

Reward Your Non-Procrastinating Behavior

Make it tangible and personal so that it has significance for you and doesn't require anyone else's participation. You might allow yourself an episode of your favorite TV series after you finish your term paper. But be sure to avoid time consuming rewards.
Finish a paper, reward yourself with the new episode of your favorite TV series. Read two chapters, take a brisk walk alone and have a cold drink. Read two more chapters, phone a friend. Just remember that you want to keep working.

Envision Completion

How did you get there? What are you free to do now? How will you feel once it’s done?

Practice, Practice, Practice

Procrastination, like any other habit forms over time and takes many new experiences to make a permanent change. Notice improvement.