Get It Done Now: 8 Tips for Overcoming Procrastination
February 25, 2019
The most successful people do not procrastinate. They get things done when they need to do them, rather than having them hanging over their head.
Is that not you? Don’t worry, truth is, most of us procrastinate. The good news is the ability to do things now is a learnable skill.
“(Doing things now) is a habit you can learn,” Instructor Chris Croft said in his LinkedIn Learning series, Success Habits. “There are ways to train yourself, to trick yourself, really, into getting the tough jobs done.”
8 Tactics for Overcoming Procrastination
In his course, Croft suggested using eight tactics for overcoming procrastination. Experiment with them – there should be one or two that work for you.
The eight tactics are:
1. Realize that having things hanging over your head causes stress.
People are more motivated by avoiding pain, as opposed to seeking pleasure. That’s a big reason we procrastinate – they are delaying the work, because they associate pain with doing it.
To overcome this, recognize the pain not doing the work is causing. Procrastination causes stress – we can’t really relax, because we are thinking about the work we should be doing.
So, don’t focus on the pain of doing the work itself. Instead, focus on the pain that not doing it is causing, and the pleasure you’ll feel having it checked off your list.
2. Change your inner dialogue.
There’s power in words. By declaring you are a “do it now” person aloud, you’ll become a “do it now” person.
So, don’t say things like “I’m a procrastinator” or “I always do things last-minute” – saying those words gives power to that habit. Instead, say the opposite – “I’m a do it now person”.
Even if you aren’t, just saying it over and over will make you one.
3. Use your calendar to help you.
Put the tasks you need to do in your calendar – and commit yourself to getting them done. The act of writing things down (as well as the satisfaction of crossing them off your list) will increase the chances you do them on schedule.
4. Start the day with your hardest task.
Whatever your hardest task is, do it first thing in the morning. This way, you get it done right away, instead of it hanging over your head all day and causing you stress.
Plus, it’ll give you such a sense of accomplishment, you’ll be feeling good and productive the rest of the day.
5. Break difficult tasks into chunks.
Say you have a big task you don’t want to do, because it seems like a huge amount of work. Rather than trying to take it all on, break it into chunks.
I actually do this for my writing (my side hustle is I write novels). My goal is to write 1,000 words a day – but that can be intimidating.
So, I say, “Paul, just write a sentence.” Before I know it, one sentence becomes a page, and a page becomes 1,000 words and I’m done.
6. Keep focused on your overall goal.
A way to motivate yourself – tie the task you don’t want to do to the bigger goal you want to accomplish.
Say you have to make 50 sales calls, which you don’t want to do. But, you do want to hit quota and be the #1 salesperson at your company.
Use that to fuel you, as those calls lead to the bigger accomplishment.
7. Develop a routine for doing something you don’t like to do.
This works if there is a task you don’t like to do, but have to do it regularly. Set time on your calendar just for it.
Using a sales example again, say you don't like to update your database, but you have to do it each week. Schedule it – say, every Thursday from 4 to 5, update your database.
Having this scheduled will increase the chances you do it, without the stress of the activity hanging over you throughout the day. Do this enough and it’ll become a habit and you’ll hardly notice doing it anymore.
8. Reward yourself along the way.
Don’t want to do a task? Promise yourself a reward if you finish it.
Example – say you don’t want to do your expense report. Reward yourself, by saying if you do it, you can watch another episode of that TV show you can’t stop binging or grab a snack at work.
Bottom line, there's no need to incorporate all of these tactics. Just find the one or two that work for you – so you get things done now, instead of hanging over your head and sucking your energy.
Want to learn more success habits like this? Check out Croft’s series, Success Habits, today.
Other videos within the LinkedIn Learning series include:
- How to Become More Decisive
- How to Become More Emotional Intelligent
- How to Become More Organized
- My Top 10 Success Books
- Eight Tips for Influencing Others