Six Tips to Help You Stop Procrastinating and Increase Your Productivity  

This blog is for everyone because we are all procrastinators at one time or another. Procrastination is a silent force that slows down our productivity, steals our time, and hinders our progress. We’ve all experienced the feelings of falling into the abyss by delaying tasks we hate only to find ourselves coping with unmet deadlines and regret later on. My professional career taught me that procrastination can be conquered with the right amount of self-awareness, an open mindset, and a good pinch of self-discipline. With the right strategies and a shift of mindset, you can break free from the negative consequences of procrastination and unleash your full potential. I am offering you five insights that have served me well in overcoming procrastination. If you are a procrastinator the suggestions below will help you to reclaim control over your time and productivity.

What is Procrastination?

Firstly, let me explain what procrastination is and does before I offer any solutions.  Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing tasks or responsibilities, especially those that you perceive as unpleasant or difficult, despite knowing that such delays may lead to negative consequences. It involves putting off important activities in favour of more immediate and often less important tasks, distractions, or leisure activities. Procrastination is often driven by factors such as fear of failure, perfectionism, lack of motivation, poor time management skills, or a combination of these factors. Long-term, habitual procrastination not only hinders productivity it also increases our stress levels creating a vicious cycle of postponed tasks, and unmet deadlines leading to feelings of guilt and hopelessness.  Procrastination often stems from a combination of factors, including fear of failure, perfectionism, lack of motivation, and poor time management. Once you recognise your ‘habits’ and identify the underlying causes you are well on the road to addressing procrastination effectively.

  • My first tip is to set clear and achievable goals regularly. Goal setting is the most potent weapon you have at your disposal when it comes to procrastination.  Break down your tasks into small, manageable steps, and identify specific deadlines for each. By creating a roadmap for your plans and tasks for the week and beyond, you’ll not only have a clearer idea of what needs to be done but also feel a sense of accomplishment as you complete each task on your list. Prioritise your tasks, this is a crucial element of effective time management. Identify the most important and time-sensitive tasks on your to-do list and tackle these first. This not only ensures that essential work gets done promptly but also reduces the likelihood of procrastinating elements of critical projects.
  • It is important to develop a routine (and stick to it), consistency is key when it comes to combating procrastination. Establishing a daily routine can help you stay organised and focused, making it easier to tackle tasks efficiently. Set aside dedicated blocks of time for work, study, and leisure, and stick to your schedule as much as possible. Over time, this habit will become ingrained, boosting your productivity, and minimising the temptation to procrastinate.
  • Perfectionism is a common driver of procrastination, as the fear of not meeting impossibly high standards can paralyse your progress. If you believe perfectionism is getting in the way of your productivity, try to aim for excellence and embrace the concept of ‘good enough’. Letting go of perfectionism takes time and energy so give yourself time to practice and remember that mistakes are inevitable.  Mistakes and setbacks should be viewed as opportunities for growth rather than failures.
  • It is important to identify distractions and eliminate them. In the modern digital age, there are distractions everywhere making it all too easy to procrastinate. Take proactive steps to minimise distractions during work periods by turning off notifications, blocking distracting websites, and emails and creating a work environment that is conducive to productivity.  I have found the Pomodoro Technique which was developed in the late 1980s by a university student Francesco Cirillo.  The Pomodoro Technique involves working in short 25-minute bursts with regular 5-minute breaks to help you maintain concentration and productivity. This technique is simple but highly effective.
  • Holding yourself accountable is a proven method of overcoming procrastination. Share your goals with a friend, colleague, or mentor who can provide support and encouragement during the period of implementing your new routines. Knowing that others are aware of your goals/objectives can help keep you on track and prevent procrastination.
  • And my final tip, be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion on your journey to beat procrastination. Acknowledge that setbacks are a natural part of the process and avoid self-criticism. Instead of dwelling on past procrastination, focus on the present moment and commit to making positive changes moving forward. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small, and remember that every step toward overcoming procrastination brings you closer to success and peace of mind.

When you are working on eliminating procrastination from your life remember that you will have setbacks and from time to time, you will lapse into old habits. Remind yourself regularly of the benefits you will experience if you successfully eliminate procrastination from your life. These are endless and they will be different for everyone. The best way to tune in to this is to recall a time when you completed a task or project that you kept putting off – remember the gnawing daily reminders of the incomplete task forever on your to-do list.  Not difficult to imagine?  Now tune in to the moment you conquered the task and remember the feeling of freedom and accomplishment.  Beating procrastination means that you could feel that sense of accomplishment every day.  In the words of Christopher Parker “Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.” – the time has come to eliminate your procrastination starting today!

Janet Tumulty

14th February 2024