8 Ways to Beat Procrastination and Boost Your Productivity
I recall a Hindi verse by the Indian mystic poet Kabir from my school days - "Kal kare so aaj kar, aaj kare so ab" which translates to "Do today what you plan to do tomorrow, and do now what you plan to do today".
We all know the importance of time. We don't need scholars and pundits to remind us that there are only 24 hours in a day and the days in our lives are limited. We know that "later" often becomes "never". Right? 🙂
But how frequently do we fall victim to putting things off?
Some of us do it occasionally, which isn't that much of a problem. But when putting things off becomes a habit, it's a major hurdle in the path of growth. It leads to missed opportunities, regrets, and disappointments.
Procrastination can cripple one's prospects. If you are struggling with this affliction of postponing tasks and suffering the consequences in your career and life, how can you overcome it and move ahead?
Here are EIGHT tips to help you tackle procrastination and defeat this beast blocking your path to increased productivity and progress. I have compiled this list based on the research that I've done on this subject. Well, I had to...I was a victim of this habit and learned tough lessons from the School of Missed Opportunities! 😔
1. Forgive yourself – Any plan of action must always begin on a positive note. Beating yourself up or feeling guilty is not a healthy way to begin any self-development activity. Be kind to yourself, forgive your previous undesirable behaviour, and start afresh.
2. Get to the root cause – Do a self-analysis and determine the underlying reason for your procrastination. What makes you do it? Knowing your reason for the behaviour will help you come up with ways to tackle and defeat it.
3. Don’t wait for the perfect time – Waiting to get all your “ducks in a row” before taking action is like waiting for all the traffic lights on the way to your destination to become green before you turn on the ignition in your car! That is never going to happen, right? You have to choose an opportune time to start and simply dive in.
4. Eschew perfectionism – Perfectionism is a close cousin of procrastination. Being obsessed with dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s is a habit that sooner or later takes you down the path that leads to procrastination. Learn to accept outcomes that may not be perfect, but are good enough. Perfection might be a desirable, maybe even essential, trait for a highly skilled professional like a cardiac surgeon where it's about life and death, but in normal everyday routines, yearning for perfection is an impossible and mostly unnecessary exercise.
5. Break into smaller chunks – When faced with a task, break it down into smaller parts so that you can make a plan to do one small task at a time. When seen as a whole, a task can look daunting. When it is split into multiple small tasks, each small task looks manageable and hence you are more likely not to procrastinate. Set yourself a time target for each task, and if you have tasks that can be done quickly, it is best to do them right away. The greater the number of small jobs you complete, the less you’ll have on your to-do list. When tackling one task, focus fully on that task, without thinking about the rest of the work you have to do.
6. Eat that frog – Mark Twain said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can get through your day comfortably and without anxiety, knowing that the worst thing for the day has already happened. Don't be alarmed if you're a vegetarian; it has nothing to do with your diet 😉! The “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate with if you don’t do something about it. By getting started with the “frog” on your to-do list, you will feel good about making some progress, and the resulting positive attitude will go a long way towards fixing your tendency to procrastinate.
7. Consult – If you’re stuck with taking action on a particular task, it might help to talk with a friend or associate you trust and whose opinion you value. The benefits of brainstorming with a trusted confidante or having a sounding board to bounce your ideas off should never be underestimated. Consulting with another person brings in another perspective and the key aspect of accountability. We are hard-wired to let ourselves down more easily than to let another person down. So, when we make a commitment to someone, we work much harder to keep up that commitment.
8. Evaluate – When you’re on the horns of a dilemma of whether or not to take action, evaluate your risk of taking action against your risk of not taking action. It is important to remember that there’s always a consequence, even if you don’t take action, and that consequence needs to be taken into account. Staying put is not always the safer option.
Try these 8 tips, or at least a few of them, and see how you go. If you make a start, you have already set out on the path to slay the beast of procrastination!😊