“Procrastination is, hands down, our favorite form of self-sabotage.” – Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby
Everyone struggles with procrastination at some point in their career and life. It is one thing to derail yourself with procrastination, but when you’re on a team it can not only kill the project you are working on, but it also dismantles the morale of the entire team.
Here are some quick and effective tips to help you break the procrastination habit.
- Motivational quotes. Don’t roll your eyes. This is science! A Canadian study found that when call center employees were shown inspirational photos and quotes, their success rate for the day was 60% higher. With the concept of success right in front of them, the employees were inspired to try harder and keep working towards success. You don’t have to plaster your walls with quotes and photos of climbers reaching the peaks of majestic mountains for this concept to work. Simply choose what is most motivational to you and put it on a sticky note placed in a spot where you can view it regularly. Try it and see how productive you can be! The worst that happens is that you are down one sticky note. The best that happens is that you beat procrastination!
- Making progress on a project or task is always a good motivator. But how can you track this progress? Easy. To-Do lists! Charts! Whatever works for you to visualize your actual progress. Studies find that even the illusion of progress (like a head start) can make you feel supercharged to keep going and make actual progress. Checking things off your to-do list increases motivation because it makes progress visible to your brain. So get to checking off all those tasks you have been putting off!
- GET RID OF DISTRACTIONS! If you are working on a big project or have a deadline looming ever closer, distractions are your biggest enemy. Close all of the tabs that are not related to your project, put your phone on silent (and as far from you as possible), and remove all non-essential items from your workspace. A clean workspace is a focused workspace and that is exactly what you need when procrastination starts to rear its ugly head.
- Have incentives for yourself. Of course, the biggest incentive is going to be completing your task and helping your team and company succeed, however, these big-picture incentives can become just as daunting as the task itself. Give yourself small incentives along the way such as: When I complete the first two to-dos on my list, I can go grab a coffee. These are little rewards along the way to help your brain stay motivated and incentivized to keep plugging along.
- TAKE A BREAK! This sounds counterproductive to a lot of the other methods we have discussed, but just like with the incentives, your brain also needs a break. One major cause of procrastination is feeling like the project is too large and daunting. By breaking up the amount of time you spend on the different points of your project you are allowing your brain to rest and ready itself for the next task. If you work for 30 minutes straight, give yourself a 10-minute break to look at something else/go get that incentive/simply relax (meditation works). Once you have done this, you are refreshed and ready to tackle the next step to completing your project.