Ever wait until the very last minute to complete tasks? Me too. I would always make my future self look amazing by stating that I would do all these great things in the future. It’s easy to push a task aside and say I’ll do it later. It’s even easier to be a person who says that they’ll do all sorts of amazing things in the future to make their future self look awesome, so they’re not worried about what they are doing now if there is no deadline. I have noticed over the past years in college that, in the classes I struggle with, I tend to procrastinate. It is not just classwork and homework I procrastinate on; I also procrastinate on my goals and dreams. The thing about classwork and homework is it always gets done, even if it gets done last minute because there’s always a deadline. However, my goals and dreams that do not have a deadline continue to get pushed off and never get accomplished. Most of the time people procrastinate to avoid distress; however, avoiding it can lead to more distress in the long run. Procrastinate may seem harmless, but it can lead to increased stress, health problems and a poorer performance overall. Throughout the years I have discovered some ways of overcoming procrastination on things that do not have a deadline by being aware of what is being procrastinated on and why, time managing and developing anti-protraction skills. By identifying the nature of procrastination you can develop a way of handling it instead of hoping things will be different in the future.
Being aware of your procrastination habits is a good start to avoid procrastinating. Occasionally people will put things off to a later date if something important comes up; this is not necessarily procrastination. However, if you are putting tasks off just to avoid them and find some other task to do that’s easier, that is a sign you are procrastinating. In order to avoid procrastination in the future, understanding why you procrastinate is important so there is not a repetition of making the same mistake that leads to procrastination. Some examples are avoiding it by doing easier tasks instead, poor organization, poor decision-making and fearing success because it can potentially lead to more tasks and being overwhelmed.
Developing time management skills is another step in overcoming procrastination. Establishing a morning routine is important because your morning shapes the tone for the rest of the day. Having a good morning routine can change the outcome of the rest of your day. When making goals, it is helpful to create a timeline on when to complete them. It’s important to be specific when setting goals by having numbers and dates, especially when it comes to dreams without deadlines, such as establishing a healthier diet or working out more. By setting a deadline you are more likely to accomplish the task by holding yourself accountable for completing that task. After setting goals and deadlines, it’s important to recognize actions that bring you closer to your goals. By recognizing your actions and prioritizing your time, you are less likely to procrastinate. Studies have shown that people who get harder tasks done enjoy the rest of the day instead of spending the day worrying about the difficult tasks.
Developing anti-procrastination skills is another thing that will help you to avoid the habit of procrastination. Forgiving yourself for procrastinating in the past is an important anti-procrastinating skill. Research has shown that people who have forgiven themselves for procrastination in the past felt better about themselves and became more positive. As a result, they were less likely to procrastinate again. Another skill is committing to the tasks you have to do by writing them and setting a time when you will complete them. Rewarding yourself after completing difficult tasks makes you notice how good it feels to finish things. It is essential to tackle tasks when they appear and not to push them off as a to-do for the next day. Just as not putting off tasks is important in your fight against procrastination, so is your perspective on how you view your workload. For example instead of saying ‘need to’ and “have to,” try saying ‘I choose to.’ It makes you feel more empowered and more in-control about the tasks at hand. It is crucial to pick tasks that are meaningful enough to make a difference, yet simple enough to achieve. Another necessary skill is to focus on the actions and not the motions. Avoiding distractions can also make a significant improvement in helping to avoid procrastination; turning off social media and not sitting near a TV can lead to more productivity. In addition to avoiding distractions, having to-do lists act as a reminder so you don’t forget about the difficult and overwhelming tasks. Using time management apps such as Trello and Toggl can help your organization skills and help you stay on top of the tasks you need to get done. Managing tasks is an important skill, and so is managing your anxiety. Too much anxiety can be paralyzing, but having a little anxiety can motivate you to accomplish a goal. The Steinfeld strategy is another helpful tool when it comes to avoiding procrastination. Steinfeld says to get a big wall calendar and a red marker. For each day that you complete your task, you put a big red X over that day. The Steinfeld strategy focuses on progress rather than individual performance. The goal is to not break the chain of X’s.
A lot of people assume that goals require an incredible dose of motivation and willpower. However, dedication to small, manageable tasks is all that is needed. By doing this, mastery follows consistency. Some dreams are all realistic, but realistic parts of a dream can be fulfilled. Don’t wait and let your dreams stay dreams — turn them into reality. “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them” (Walt Disney).