In college, you can sometimes get away with putting tasks off until the last minute. But in the professional world, it’s a different story. Here are some tips to get a handle on procrastination.
Get to the root
When you put off a task, it’s not because you’re just lazy. There’s often an underlying fear or source of stress that leads to the behavior. Understanding what that is will help you change your habits.
Create a plan
A big goal can seem daunting. To make it more manageable, break it into smaller tasks. Start with one of them and give yourself an hour to complete it. Keep focused by avoiding emails and texts or logging into social media.
Say no when needed
If you over-commit yourself, some tasks will inevitably be pushed to the back-burner. Take on only as many responsibilities as you can manage without feeling overwhelmed. That way, you will have time to complete them without putting anything off.
Don’t let fear stop you
You may be putting off the completion of a project because you fear that your boss and co-workers will criticize your work. Acknowledge how you feel, but don’t let it control you. Instead, focus on doing your job well.
Create the right environment
If you can, pick a chair with a supportive back and make sure there’s good lighting. Your work space should be comfortable—but not so comfortable that you feel sluggish. Keep your environment free of distractions.
Take a risk
Sometimes we procrastinate because we’re afraid that if we succeed we’ll be given more responsibility, and we may not feel ready. But there will never be a time when you’re completely confident, so it’s important to step up now, even if you’re unsure of yourself.
See it as self-care
If you’re not feeling motivated, remember that staying organized and keeping up with your work is an important part of taking care of yourself. It makes your day-to-day life less stressful.
Boost your energy
It’s easy to push back a demanding task if you’re feeling too tired to tackle it. Get enough sleep, eat healthy snacks throughout the day, and schedule time for activities that recharge you—like exercise or dinner with friends. Avoid relying too much on caffeine.
Keep good company
Make friends with people who excel at staying organized, as that will encourage you to do the same. Spending time with others who struggle with the same bad habits will only reinforce the behaviors you’re trying to change.
Be honest with yourself
It could be that you’re simply not interested in your work. If so, it’s best to admit that and start looking for other alternatives, rather than staying with a company or industry that doesn’t excite you.
Another habit you may want to get a handle on is perfectionism. Here are a few ways of dealing with it.
Stop seeking approval
Often, perfectionism is the result of self-doubt, which causes us to seek the validation from others that we don’t give to ourselves. When you give it your best shot, it’s enough.
It’s easy to worry that something terrible will happen if you don’t complete a project perfectly—maybe you’ll be fired or alienate your coworkers. Realize that your fears are not reality.
See shades of gray
Maybe you feel that if you’re not 100% successful, it means you are a failure. Put an end to this black-and-white thinking and acknowledge your accomplishments, even if there have been setbacks.