How to beat procrastination

lady bored with paper plane

Procrastination is something that we all grapple with at some time or another.  It has been the topic of many psychological studies, trying to understand why people put things off and how to stop. The results have been uniform and here are some of the key methods that business owners can put to use to try and break the habit of procrastination.


1. Start Easy

The hardest part always seems to be starting, but if you can get over that hump, you’ll not only have some degree of momentum, your brain is more likely to pester you to keep working on the task. Why? It’s down to a psychological phenomenon called the Zeigarnik effect, which says that unfinished tasks are more likely to get stuck in your memory and therefore more likely to get completed.

2. Break It Down

It is generally the really big tasks that we put off.  Big tasks can be terrifying, but, by taking that huge job and breaking it down into its first few smaller tasks, you can reduce your fear and help yourself to get started. Even when you talk about the project, describing it as mammoth or epic makes it seem insurmountable – whereas by describing it as manageable immediately makes the task seem easier and you are sure to get started sooner.

3. Be Nice to Yourself

You might assume that in order to beat procrastination you need to be strict with yourself, but that’s not what science says. If you’ve procrastinated already, you’re more likely to get started on time and be willing to give yourself some compassion, rather than beating yourself up about it.

4. Get a Good Why

No one would disagree with the common-sense truth that it’s easier to get yourself to do something you value, but rarely do most of us connect that simple truism with our anti-procrastination efforts. If you’re struggling to get something done, why not spend a few minutes thinking a little more deeply about exactly why you want to do it.  Motivation is key and we are more likely to get something done if the motivation to do so is good.

5. Be Mindful

Perfectionism and fear of failure are at the root of some procrastination. To beat this, make sure that all of your thinking is productive thinking.   Be aware of how you talk about tasks and make sure that you are always setting them up as manageable and within your grasp rather than something that is unobtainable.


So there you have it. To beat procrastination, first you need to just simply get started. You also need to increase your motivation to do each and every task on which you are tempted to procrastinate. To do that, you can make sure you optimise your success for a particular task by making the task more manageable, more pleasant and taking steps to overcome distractions.  Don’t try to be perfect or try to completely eliminate procrastination – try to find a balance.  You will find that if you take this approach, you are certain to get more done with more enjoyment.

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