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Are you a procrastinator?

If yes, don’t worry, you are not alone. We have all been there.

In this era of ‘distraction overdose’ procrastination is a common problem. We all procrastinate from time to time. It’s not a bad thing, but it can turn into a nasty habit very easily if we aren’t careful.

You know the feeling when you cannot focus long enough to finish any critical task in hand or you’re blankly sitting in front of your computer watching the cursor blink and you haven’t accomplished any single thing. You make mental notes of all the errands you need to run but you just can’t get started on. Certain tasks can seem like torture if the person is bored or disinterested in it. This feeling often leads to procrastination and very soon procrastination converts into guilt.

Students get tired of carrying out the mundane schedule day after day; hence, they are hard-wired to procrastinate. Procrastination is that overpowering compulsion that forces us to do any other activity so long as it’s not that one thing that we are meant to do. It’s a dreadful feeling but reading on procrastination is bordering on being productive.

Did you know that 47% of our time that we spend online has nothing to do with our work. In 1978, 15% of the population stated that they were persistent procrastinators. In 2002 the numbers quadrupled, with around 60% of the population stating they experience moderate procrastination in their everyday lives. So, before procrastination rules your life, make the conscious decision to overrule it.

I was a habitual procrastinator, especially during my teens, but after facing a lot of criticism at school I made the resolution to defy it. I religiously adhered to certain simple techniques and eventually my procrastination diminished. However, every now and then I tend to revert back to my old habit, but with the help of the below mentioned strategies, I pull myself out of it.

You will be happy to learn that there are many techniques to beat procrastination. I have summed up fifteen points that will help you in developing a habit structure to overcome this harrowing foe once and for all. From now on you don’t have to be angry at yourself for being a procrastinator, simply embrace your distraction for a little while and spend a few minutes reading about the Top 15 ways to beat procrastination.

1. Setup timers and reminders:

Set five minutes to work on any particular task (you can do just about anything for five minutes). You may surprise yourself after finding that you want to keep working even when the timer goes off. If you don’t feel like continuing then take a short break and reset the timer once again. You can accomplish a lot in just five minutes; especially the tasks you dread hardly take as much time as you contemplate. Setup an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly reminder that reminds you to stay focussed on your work and not waste your time doing unproductive work. Setting up reminders works wonders for me. I am a very forgetful person and I easily get distracted from my work. So, my reminders help me to stay put.

2. Early to sleep, early to rise:

The best part about waking up early is that it is silent and still. The early morning hours are my most productive period. I can easily concentrate on certain heavy tasks as soon as I wake up and also get tons of work done that would have easily taken more hours to accomplish during the scurry of the day.

Obviously, you can’t wake up early if you don’t go to bed early. You will undeniably need a good seven hours sleep in order to actively function during the day. Hence, sleeping early is equally significant. A sound sleep will recharge your batteries and without it you will be languid and exhausted, which is definitely a big motivator to continue procrastinating.

3. Disconnect the cable:

Being a couch potato and spending most of your time in front of your TV isn’t a good thing. It is a substantial motivator to continue procrastinating. So, to successfully beat procrastination, you need to get rid of your cable. Think about how much money you will save in the long run.

4. Don’t check your email every day:

Checking emails regularly is a futile thing. It is one of the worst things that you can do while commencing work. It will immediately put you in a ‘non-action’ mood. You will be compelled to reply to each and every one of your emails, which is a huge wastage of your work time. You will also be plagued with anxiety, anger, and edginess which will ultimately shrink your productivity. Instead, reserve one or two days each week to check emails. On the other days work on finishing your essential tasks and avoid your emails.

5. Put a lid on social networking:

We all know that Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and all other social media are mighty distractors. The reason behind the unremitting increase in a number of procrastinators is the incessant social networking. You have to turn them off completely and focus solely on the task at hand.

6. Automate:

If you dislike doing some mundane and monotonous job on your computer, then it is a good idea to automate them, if possible. Automate all the mind-numbing and mechanical work whenever you can. If there is a task in hand which does not require human finesse and is extremely time-consuming, then it is better to automate it. Once you start automating a few of your tasks, you will quickly discover other tasks that can benefit from automation. It will save you time and energy and allow you to conveniently concentrate on other interesting and significant things.

7. Listen to music:

Jam out to some good music to defeat procrastination. High energy music will help you feel upbeat and put you in a state of flow with your work. It will trigger you to tackle the task at hand.

On the other hand, if you are feeling nervous or jittery listen to some soothing music, try something mellow, it will help you to loosen up. It will de-stress you and help you focus.

8. Work in small shifts:

Set an alarm after every 30 mins and take a 10 mins break. Commit to small chunks of work. Set practical goals and work towards achieving them. If you know that there is a break coming up, your urge to abandon your work will be lessened. It will also increase your productivity. Small breaks every half an hour will reenergize you and give you the much-needed boost to continue working.

9. Prioritize your work:

Make a list of all your tasks and projects, rank them from top to bottom depending upon their urgency, significance, and quantity. Try to finish the complex tasks first and place them at the top of the list. The urge to procrastinate mostly originates from the fear of being incapable to accomplish something. Hence, if there is something that you are purposefully putting off, then do it first. It won’t be as tough as you expect and then the rest will be a cakewalk. It is a very instrumental technique to beat procrastination. I applied it for a couple of days and the results were exceptional.

10. Delegate your work:

If you are overloaded with chores at home such as cleaning, cooking, gardening, doing the laundry or even paperwork at the office and find yourself procrastinating on such chores, it’s best to delegate them to others. Laundry services, cleaning staff, administrative assistants or even kids are always available and accessible to take away some of those unstimulating tasks off your list and spare you the time for all the essential tasks that you would rather be completing.

11. Ascertain your most productive period:

Like I mentioned before, early mornings are my most productive periods. I can accomplish mammoth tasks during this particular period of very limited time. I am at my creative best and my work output is much better from around 6.30 am to 9.00 am in the morning, as compared to the rest of the day.

If your job is centered on being creative, it can be catastrophic to push yourself to work when you are unproductive. You may waste a lot of time churning out crap which will stress you out and make you question your skills. Zeroing in on the times you’re most focused produces much better results in less time. In order to maintain your productivity, you need to figure out when is your best time of the day to work.

If you are someone like me and you’re more focused in the morning, then set aside this time for your most complicated and elaborate projects. Don’t put off important work until the times when you are less productive. It will most likely lead to persistent procrastination. Determining your most productive period during the day is an essential method to keep procrastination at bay.

12. Reward yourself:

You are much more likely to finish a dreary task if there is a reward waiting for you once the task is complete. Rewarding yourself for achieving milestones is a great motivator. For example, take yourself out to dinner, gift yourself a bestselling book or record-breaking album or buy yourself something nice after completing all the important or urgent tasks for the day.

This habit will keep your eye on the prize and keep you motivated to work towards achieving your target. Just make sure that your rewards do not hinder your work rate. If the reward makes you procrastinate at some point then it is a nasty temptation and not a reward that will ultimately ruin your final goal.

13. Rejuvenate Yourself:

Going on a vacation once in a while or even a weekend getaway will allow you to relax, rejuvenate and see new possibilities. If you can’t go on a week or month long vacation, take a micro-vacation. Simply take an afternoon off. Three or four hours is enough for you to refocus your mind. Go to a movie or visit an art museum. Getting away from work, once in a while, is an instrumental way to beat procrastination as well as refuel your energies.

However, try to visit a new place every time or somewhere you don’t usually go. Visit another city or explore a new part of your town. Try not to think about the project that you have been avoiding, focus all your energies on revitalizing yourself. Stop fretting and worrying about your work, leave all your worries and cares behind and try to have a blast.

14. Exercise daily and eat the rainbow:

Exercise and eat right. If you exercise every day without fail, you will eventually enhance your stamina and fortify your immune system. You will have more energy and will procrastinate a lot less. Remember, a healthy mind dwells in a healthy body.

Ever heard of the rainbow diet? It’s not an actual diet; it refers to choosing various vegetables and fruits of every color in the rainbow. Regularly consuming the full rainbow of different food products eliminates nutritional deficiencies. If your body lacks sufficient nutrients or essential vitamins and minerals, it will become prone to severe ailments. Naturally colored foods contain phytochemicals, these powerful nutrients are the disease-fighting elements that also gives them their array of colours. Avoid that simple sugar that gives you an immediate boost. It may give you a sudden rush but you will dump just shortly thereafter. Eat complex carbohydrates, they provide steadier release of energy throughout the entire day.

15. Cut yourself some slack:

Nobody’s perfect, perfection is overrated. If you find that your mind is distracted for thirty minutes, so be it. Don’t be too hard on yourself. That alone won’t be the cause of you failing. As long as you commit to your work, taking a break from time to time is more than acceptable. All work and no play made Jack a dull boy.

The secret to success is hard work, but, concentrating only on work without any recreation makes a person dull, lethargic and wearisome. The mind’s constitution is such that it can work for long hours at a stretch. At the same time, you need to give it a break from time to time to keep it from getting overtaxed. One reason we procrastinate is that we try to do too many things at once.

If you are determined to reach your paramount potential as an entrepreneur then overcoming procrastination is a skill that you must develop. It is a skill that differentiates the sorta successful entrepreneurs from the ultra-successful ones.

Some of the above-mentioned techniques might seem a little challenging to implement, but they are very effective. If you are truly determined to tame the procrastination beast, you will need something much stronger than quick-fix solutions. You will have to implement certain lifestyle changes because procrastination does not go away on its own.

The more you overcome bouts of procrastination, pushing past it becomes much less difficult. You have to take initiative and the upside of tackling this problem is tremendous personal growth. It’s like any other muscle in your body, the more you train it the sturdier it gets. You will become more disciplined, driven and focused. So, recognize that the challenge of overcoming procrastination is actually a blessing in disguise.

I’d love to know if you have any specific strategies that you like to use to overcome procrastination and get yourself motivated to work, so be sure to share those as well.