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Ways to tackle procrastination

4 minutes read  

by Ezra
on 15 Jul, 20234 minutes read

Hello and welcome back to Ezra’s Journey!

Last month I spoke about how I learnt to accept that I’m a serial procrastinator, so today I thought I would share how I attempt to combat my tendencies to avoid and delay tasks. Spoiler: I find it hard.

Overcoming the desire to procrastinate is challenging but it is possible to develop better habits and increase your productivity. Stay focused on your goal and be kind to yourself if you find yourself easily distracted and procrastinating again. They say it takes 30 to 60 days to break a habit so persevere, be patient with yourself, and celebrate any small successes!

Identify why you procrastinate

The first step to overcoming chronic procrastination is to realise why you are doing it. What are the underlying reasons you’re delaying and avoiding important tasks? Do you feel overwhelmed with the assignment or worried that it won’t be perfect? Are you generally uninterested in it? Understanding the root cause of your procrastination will help you address them more effectively.

For me, the main reason I procrastinate is because I’m bored. The issue is that a lot of things bore me, so inevitably I procrastinate a lot of things. By recognising that boredom is the reason I procrastinate, I can put measures in place to make sure that I don’t become easily bored when doing a task.

Use productivity techniques

One of the best strategies I use is the Pomodoro Technique; I work continuously for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break before working for another 25 minutes. 25 minutes is a manageable amount of time for me, it's not as daunting as half an hour but not short enough to not get anything productive done. I have to be strict with the time slots, not extending or shortening the time by even a minute so that I don’t allow myself to lose my focus or be distracted.

Other helpful strategies include time blocking, where you allocate specific time slots during the day for different tasks, and the two-minute rule which states that if a task takes less than two minutes you can do it immediately.

Minimise distractions

Identifying and minimising things that you know are distracting for you is key to maintaining focus.

What distracts me the most is my mobile phone and talking with other people. Before I begin working I need to put my phone somewhere I can’t physically see it and be on my own, so I am not tempted to talk with others or scroll through social media. You may find it helpful to use apps that block access to or limit certain websites or apps, however his technique never worked for me as I would just take the blocker off or turn off the time limit restriction (I really do everything I can to avoid doing certain tasks).

Break tasks into smaller steps

It can be overwhelming knowing you have a lot of important and necessary tasks to complete, so I keep a to-do list and highlight what needs to be prioritised by urgency and establish realistic deadlines for each task.

Visually seeing a timeline of when certain tasks need to be done by creates a sense of urgency in me that helps motivate me to complete them and not put them off until the last minute. I also break down any particularly large assignments into smaller, more manageable tasks. This makes the overall task appear less daunting and reduces the risk of me procrastinating.

Reward yourself

When you successfully complete tasks or reach milestones, reward yourself!

Treating yourself to things you enjoy, such as candy or going on your phone, when you don’t give in to distractions helps to reinforce positive behaviour and break bad habits. It also gives you a reason to remain focused as you know at the end you know you’re getting a reward.