Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment. 

Robert Benchley

Procrastination. It is something that a lot of people tend to do, no matter what the task. We all know that putting something off does not often help us and it only usually makes things worse by placing additional stress to our lives. But, somehow, mysteriously, knowing this only makes people procrastinate more. How can you stop this vicious cycle, use your time more effectively, and get your tasks done sooner?

Here are 5 tips for getting up, getting going and to stop putting off things that must be done for the sake of bittersweet procrastination:

1. Know your “why”

Determine why you delay working on your task. Is it because a specific task that you are putting off, or do you procrastinate about everything on your plate? What is it about this particular task that stops you from doing it?

Are you:

  • Afraid of failing? Or succeeding?
  • Afraid that you will fall short of what is expected of you?
  • Just being lazy?
  • Resentful of whoever put this obligation on you?

By evaluating the task, you can better understand exactly what is holding you back so that you can complete the task more efficiently.

2. Make a plan.

When you make a step-by-step plan, you are setting a specific schedule and timeline to complete the task. Write this plan down on paper. Writing this list will help you better organize your thoughts and determine the smaller steps you need to take to accomplish the overarching goals. Give yourself attainable tasks on a daily, weekly or hourly timetable, as it applies to your situation.

You are less likely to feel overwhelmed when you are faced with small, manageable steps.

3. Be Realistic.

Be honest with yourself and be realistic about what you can truly achieve in your plan. Doing so makes each step clearly attainable and you will be less inclined to put it off. Knowing your limits will also make the goals seem easier and a less of a mountain to climb.

4. Just Begin.

I know, this sounds simple enough, but this is an extremely important tip. Most procrastinators find themselves prone to delaying the start of the task because it seems too overwhelming, too daunting. Instead, they stress themselves out and spend their time and energy worrying before they even begin.

No matter how large or insurmountable the task may seem, beginning with even a small action will help you build momentum. Simply beginning also tends to put the task into a better perspective and make it seem more possible than ever.

5. Take Breaks.

Taking scheduled breaks while working on your task will help to refresh your body and mind. If you go for a 10-minute walk or work on a Sudoku puzzle, you will feel re-energize and also find that you are in a better frame of mind to forge on.

Breaks, while refreshing, should be taken in moderation. The goal is to not use the breaks as an excuse to lapse back into procrastination. I use an old-fashioned kitchen timer to help keep myself honest, focused and on-task.

Procrastinating is an ugly habit that many people fall prey to. Fortunately, this is a bad habit that can be overcome with some forethought and insight. Try these tips out. Practice them frequently. And, with some time and patience you will find yourself getting more done, more often, and feel less stressed.

Photo Credit: Rennett Stowe via Compfight cc