The bad habit of procrastination is well-known, yet still prevalent across the modern world. People want to be productive and accomplish new things, but when faced with a big challenge they may be more inclined to defer their work to the next day, or some vague point in the future. Sometimes you might fall prey to the many diversions on our devices and social media; it’s also possible that a lack of structure leads to neglect, especially in personal life.
We’re often told that creating a to-do list is a great place to start, but often people tend to list and accomplish quick fixes; addressing larger, long-term issues, such as sloping porch repair, is tempting to put off until the winter weather in Utah starts to worsen the problem. These steps will help you avoid procrastination when facing a big task.
Break it down
Getting something done is like one of those elementary physics problems; pushing a small object is easier because you need to overcome minimal inertia. Massive objects require greater exertion, but once you have momentum on your side, you’ll get the ball rolling. If you’ve always wanted to organize your house, the effort of going through every room, sorting through belongings, discarding what’s not needed, finding the right layout and storage options for what you’ll keep, and organizing a garage sale, can be intimidating. It’s not something most people can accomplish in a single day or even a week. Go through the process one room at a time, and even further into intervals of 30 minutes to an hour, and you’ll make sustainable progress.
At times it may feel like modern technology is aimed at finding ever-varied ways to present us with distractions and other sinks for time and effort. The Founding Fathers certainly didn’t have to worry about wasting time on social media, television, or video games; yet even as we try to achieve humble goals, we need to eliminate those distractions. Create a dedicated space in your home for a personal project, for instance; make sure there are no devices, only the essential tools you need to get the job done. Sometimes, unrelated tasks and household chores can also compete for your attention; make sure you compartmentalize by establishing a routine and giving structure to your day. This allows you to focus on what you should be doing at a given time.
Humans are creatures of habit, and habit formation is a simple and consistent process which you can use to your advantage in overcoming procrastination. All habits are founded upon the desire to obtain a reward. People who make New Year’s resolutions to hit the gym often envision a perfectly toned body and the associated status boost as their reward; equally, those resolutions are bound to fail because the reward can’t feasibly be achieved in a short amount of time, thus, exercise doesn’t become a habit. Harness the sense of urgency by tying your goals – already broken down into manageable chunks – to small, short-term rewards for what you’ve accomplished each day, and you can reinforce positive action.
Using these tips, you’ll be able to accomplish not only the low-hanging fruit on your to-do list, but make incremental progress towards big goals with a greater sense of focus and accomplishment each day.