Health Advocate Blog

Top 10 tips to beat procrastination

Are you having trouble getting tasks at home or work done because you keep putting them off? The problem could be procrastination. If you keep procrastinating, though, the tasks won’t go away—they’ll just keep hanging over your head. Confront procrastination head-on so that you can finish what you committed to do. These ten tips can help you regain your productivity!

  1. Figure out your “why.” Understanding why you’re procrastinating is the first step toward fixing the problem. Is the procrastination coming from a place of fear or overwhelm? If so, break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks, and tackle each component one at a time. Is it coming from unclear directions? Ask for clarification and get the information you need to get started. Is it coming from disliking the task? If so, try to find the advantages of getting it done—such as getting it over with, not having to worry about it anymore, etc.
  2. Break it into chunks. If a project seems overwhelming, remember that you generally don’t have to have all its components done at once! Break the task down into smaller, more manageable chunks—and then focus on getting them done one at a time.
  3. Reduce distractions. You may be putting something off because you’re having difficulty focusing. If your office is noisy, take steps to eliminate distractions. If you’re the one who’s distracting yourself (for example, if you’re compelled to check your phone all the time, and it’s keeping you from getting stuff done), impose limits on yourself. In the case of checking your phone too frequently, tell yourself that you can check it after working for an hour, or completing a specific task.
  4. Hold yourself accountable. If you don’t have a deadline, you’re probably less motivated to get the work done. Give yourself a deadline to get things done. And for additional help staying on track, tell someone else about your deadline so that they can help hold you accountable. (Consider finding an accountability partner so you can help each other!)
  5. Don’t multitask. Multitasking may seem more efficient, but studies show it has the opposite effect! It can overwhelm you and diminish your focus, which can both contribute to procrastination. Instead, single-task—do one thing at a time, and then move on to the next thing. It may feel like a slower method at first, but it can help you stay efficient!
  6. Don’t wait until you “feel like it.” Let’s face it—truth it, it’s not likely you will ever feel like it. Motivation can be a tricky thing—it’s not often around when you need it. Instead of waiting for it to show up, take action! Taking one small step toward your goal can lead to a chain reaction of steps, and before you know it, you’ve made some significant progress!
  7. Change your environment. Is something about your environment making it tough to get work done? Is it too quiet, too noisy, too populated, too lonely? Is being at the same location you’re always at making you feel stagnant? Switch it up! Consider using a conference room, coffee shop, empty office, or cafeteria to work in, depending on both your preferences and your workplace’s norms and requirements.
  8. Work smartly and take breaks. Action is the enemy of procrastination—to keep procrastination at bay, keep moving forward! Consider using methods like the Pomodoro® Technique—where you work for 25 minutes and then take a short break—to help you stay productive. If you want to try the Pomodoro Technique, this simple online timer can help. (Note that a break need not be long, or even time spent away from your desk. Just getting up from your seat and stretching, standing up for a minute, or walking in place can help refresh you!)
  9. Use your imagination. Make your imagination work to your advantage. If the reason you’re having trouble doing a project is because you’re worried about whether you’ll do it right or worried about the outcome, you may be letting your imagination run away with you. Instead, put your mind to better use by imagining how good it will feel once this project is done and you don’t have to think or worry about it anymore! Reminding yourself that there is an end in sight and that you’ll feel really good when you reach it can be great motivated to get started and keep going.
  10. Reward yourself. If nothing else works, consider bribing yourself to reach your goal or complete your project! Dangle a carrot that would make you really happy, like buying a book or DVD you’ve had your eye on for a while, getting a relaxing massage or manicure, or treating yourself to a movie or dinner out. Consider cutting out a picture that reminds you of your reward and taping it to your desk or keeping it in a desk drawer as a reminder of the thing you’ll enjoy once the hard work is done!

For Health Advocate members

If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to the EAP+Work/Life program, call us to talk to a Licensed Professional Counselor or Work/Life Specialist. They can help you address concerns like productivity and procrastination, stress management, work/life balance, issues in the workplace, and more.