How to Manage Time Effectively and Avoid Procrastination
What is procrastination and How to Stop it?
Sometimes, we tend to take too long tasks that we have to do. This tendency is called deferment or procrastination usually has unwanted consequences, and even reduces our well-being. We must bear in mind that it involves not doing the task, as well as the difficulties that it will represent having to do it with limited time if we delay it. We are going to find the necessary motivation to face it.
There can be many reasons that cause loss of time or delay and make us unable to manage time. Procrastination is a habit that can be caused by a lack of confidence, an inability to make decisions, a lack of goals or priorities, or a lack of personal strength to achieve goals. In many cases, it is an emotional response resulting from the unconscious need to gain approval or to please others.
It can also be the result of an excess of protection during childhood and as a consequence, the person falls into procrastination waiting for someone to come to their aid and do the work for them. Once procrastination becomes a habit, it is responsible for low productivity, missed opportunities, and general dissatisfaction in life.
Those who tend to delay tasks tend to do so in all areas of their life e.g. studies, home, work, and sport, etc. There are several psychological conditions that make it difficult for us to undertake a task, and we may be tempted to delay it. But not dealing with it on time can lead to stress as the deadline approaches or frustration (for not having been able to do it properly.
People can be divided into three groups: those who make things happen, those who see how things happen, and those who wonder what happened. John W. Newbern
The Disadvantages of Procrastination:
Procrastination influences one’s life. Adult procrastinators often lose the respect of their co-workers, friends, and family. You can lose your ambition in your personal and professional life, setting yourself up for failure. Younger procrastinators struggle in school and in their social life.
Procrastination can affect your Physical Health:
- Putting off health-related tasks like a yearly physical, eating a healthier diet, or starting an exercise program threatens your physical health.
- Procrastination causes stress, which compromises your immune system.
- Studies show that those who procrastinate have poor diets and trouble sleeping.
Procrastination Can Affect Your Mental Health:
The heartache and stress of procrastinating often lead to unhappiness, which affects your emotional health. Additionally, procrastinators can avoid social interaction, and the resulting isolation causes even more mental anguish.
What are the signs if you are a Procrastinator?
Procrastinators often don’t recognize that they have a problem. You are probably reading this article because you think you, or someone you know, is a procrastinator. However, how can a procrastinator be identified? The following list of personality traits and avoidance tactics will help you decide if procrastination is to blame for you or someone else having trouble completing tasks and lack of success.
Personality Traits of Procrastinators:
Procrastinators frequently display certain personality traits. To evaluate whether you are a procrastinator or not, see whether the following personality traits apply to you.
- You are used to waiting until the last minute to complete a task and explain: ‘I work better under pressure.
- You take care of unnecessary and unimportant tasks to avoid taking on the biggest ones.
- And, you wait to start a task and tell yourself later that it would be better: you need to do your research, prepare, and plan before you start. However, it never gets to the point where you are ready to go.
Mentally, and sometimes, in fact, he creates scenarios in which it is impossible to complete a task. For example, you want to find a better job, but think about how you have invested so much in your current job, and after all, maybe things will get better.
You are caught looking at your past. You stop at past failures or you keep analyzing what you have done in your past life and never get so far as to complete a current task.
Procrastination Avoidance Techniques:
Procrastinators have certain personality traits, but they also have techniques that they use to help them avoid performing necessary tasks.
Procrastinators often make an undesirable task so complicated that it becomes nearly impossible to complete. The task may become enormous and unaffordable. Divide the task into subtasks and tackle each subtask one by one. The path is made with different steps.
For example, a person decides that the house needs painting, but wants to do the entire area at once, which involves moving furniture and gluing on top of all the baseboards. Furthermore, he decides that he want the best and most expensive paint, which is prohibitively expensive. Therefore, he concludes that the task is too difficult and expensive to complete in the current scenario.
Reluctance to make a decision:
Procrastinators are often fortune-tellers, constantly weighing options, and never making a decision. They are convinced that any decision they make will be wrong. The result is an inability to move forward towards task completion. Starting the task, even if it is little, even in a disorderly way, will mean starting the machinery. It is going to give us the necessary inertia to continue with it.
Looking for perfection:
It has been observed that perfectionists are some of the worst procrastinators. The time is not right, more research needs to be done, or the first part of a multi-step task needs to be refined. Also, a list does not work for a perfectionist because he is convinced that the tasks listed will take much more time than he has available to do a good job.
Procrastinators often doubt their own abilities. Even if they want to finish a task, they become convinced that they lack the ability to do it. They compare themselves to others and decide they don’t have enough experience or education to complete the task. Also, instead of doing the task they should be doing, they find a task that is considered easier, one that is often less relevant or has a low priority.
Procrastinators often set themselves up for failure by setting up obstacles that prevent success. It has been observed that procrastinators create reasons for not being able to complete the required task. They don’t have the right materials, enough space, the right help, etc. Once a problem is solved, they find another that prevents them from acting.
How to Stop Procrastinating?
There are not only many reasons and ways that people procrastinate, but also many methods to stop. It is not enough to make the decision to stop procrastinating; you need some practical ways to do it. Not every suggestion we provide will work for everyone. We have included those considered most successful by those who have managed to stop procrastinating. Also, some of our suggestions come from mental health experts who have worked with procrastinators whose problem was so debilitating that they sought professional help.
You can find your own unique solution. The key is to find what works for you in the most suitable way. If you try something and it doesn’t work, don’t give up, you may have many different options, try another method.
Prepare to Break the Cycle of Procrastination:
You’ve probably been procrastinating for a long time, and stopping will take a bit of effort. Procrastination actually becomes a ‘personality trait‘. Some preparatory steps are necessary if you plan to experience success. Start with the following:
Let others know that you plan to complete a task:
Telling others about your plans for completing a task adds responsibility. Family, friends, and others will ask you how your homework is going every time they see you. The possibility of feeling embarrassed when you must confess that you have not yet started your task can be a powerful motivator.
Decide the process you will use to stop procrastinating:
Read our list of ways to stop procrastinating and choose the one that you think will work for you. If you are unsuccessful, try a different one. Sometimes combining more than one method works.
Write down the reasons you procrastinate:
If we do not undertake a task immediately, it is because there is something that prevents us. Let’s find out what it is. It may simply be a lack of motivation, a lack of time, an emotional block.
Review the section on procrastinators’ personality traits and decide which of the above apply to you. Doing so will help you design a personal change process. You cannot change your attitude and behavior unless you understand the reasons behind it. Here are some possible reasons for your procrastination. You may have one or some if you’ve been procrastinating for a long time, all:
- Poor physical or mental health
- Fear to failure
- Unrealistic expectations
- Compare yourself with others
- Insufficient ability to complete a chosen task
Methods to Break the Procrastination Cycle:
Again, not all of these methods work for everyone. One may even contribute to your procrastination, for example making a list is the furthest you can go as you perceive the job to be done once it is listed.
Learn to prioritize, outline and plan daily activities. Make sure you focus on doing the right things. Yes, there is always more to do, but don’t think about it, instead, decide what you really need to do. Make a list and then number the items in order of importance. Work through your list in numerical order.
Create a timeline for large tasks:
Large tasks often seem impossible to complete, especially to a procrastinator. Break your big assignment into shorter chunks and then set a timeline to complete it. Set specific dates for completing each part of the assignment.
Make a to-do list:
Design your to-do list to meet your individual needs. Some people do well just listing items that are generally avoided and excluding tasks that are done every day. Others list everything as they get a sense of accomplishment by crossing out items. You may like to divide tasks into groups based on time, the similarity of tasks, or days of the week.
Eliminate opportunities to procrastinate:
Get rid of distractions. Turn off the television, don’t answer the phone, and if Facebook or email updates tempt you, turn off the push notification options. Some people set up a special place to work on tasks (a designated room, computer, or location) where they only work on tasks that need to be completed.
Divide the task into manageable segments:
Procrastination often occurs when a task seems too overwhelming to begin. For example, writing a book seems overwhelming. However, breaking the task down into steps, such as creating an outline, writing a draft of one chapter at a time, and revising (after the book is finished!), Makes the task more manageable. Break large tasks into smaller segments so you can plan and tackle them without overwhelming them.
Start with the funniest part:
Some tasks get delayed because we don’t like them. To begin with, we are going to go to that part that we do not dislike so much or that can even be pleasant to us. We’ll do the unpleasant parts later, but for now, we’ve already started.
Create rewards and punishments:
Reward yourself for milestones on a long assignment. Take a break and allow yourself to solve a puzzle or read a chapter from a book after an hour of uninterrupted work. Use bigger rewards at the end of completing a big task or at the end of a productive work week, like a night out with friends. Set some consequences if you avoid a task. For example, if you don’t exercise three times a week, you won’t be able to buy new clothes.
Delegate some tasks:
Determine if there are parts of a task that you can delegate. Family members are able to complete many routine tasks, allowing you to complete a larger and more complicated task. See if someone else can do some of the homework, that is, have someone else review what you write instead of doing it yourself.
Look for allies:
Shared tasks are easier to be done. It is not about unloading your responsibilities on others, but sharing challenges (if possible) with other people who have to perform similar tasks. It is easier to go to the gym regularly if you are accompanied.
Choose a productive environment:
Examine your work area. Make sure you have the necessary tools to complete your task. Your work area should be well lit, with comfortable seating. However, make sure you are not so comfortable that you relax instead of work. It may also be necessary to change the layout of your workspace if it becomes less conducive to working after some time.
Start the task:
This may seem like a given, yet procrastinators often just can’t get started. Set a timer and tell yourself that you will be working on a task for a short period, such as five or ten minutes. You will often find that once it starts, it will continue.
As we have seen, procrastination has many negative aspects. However, it is possible to stop procrastinating and become more productive. In addition to the ready-made suggestions, we suggest that you try the following:
- Admit that it exists and become aware of the damage it causes us.
- Make yourself a firm and sincere purpose to seek an alternative attitude.
- Persist and insist on not giving in to procrastination, not getting discouraged, being proactive, and managing time correctly.
- Take the appropriate steps to turn the new attitude into a habit, reiterating and repeating.
- Surround yourself with productive people and model your life on the things they do to achieve success, especially in those areas where you tend to procrastinate.
- Continually clarify your goals. Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals for yourself. Otherwise, you will never get there if you don’t know where you want to go.
- Don’t compare yourself or your ability to others. You can always find someone more creative, faster, smarter, or more capable of completing whatever task you set out to do.
- Dare to take action. If you can’t tackle the big task, go for the little ones. Do something every day, something that feels good about it.
- Stop making excuses. You may think you have valid reasons for delaying an assignment, but learn to be honest with yourself when procrastinating.
- Reserve time slots to work on the truly imperative tasks, and fulfill it at all costs.
- Adapt your activities to your natural biological rhythms to know what time of day you should face each type of task.
- Believe in yourself and in your ability to make the right decisions and carry them out successfully within the deadline that you have set for yourself.
- If necessary, go to the doctor to eliminate any physical or psychological reasons for your procrastination. Poor health can get in the way of best efforts.
By following these tips, it will be easier for you to face the tasks that lie ahead. And it is important to always have challenges in life. Do not give up. With time and effort, you can overcome the habit of procrastination and lead a happier, healthier, and more productive life.
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