It doesn’t matter whether you’re working on research, writing a report or talking to clients: there’s always something else that you could be doing. The trouble is, that something else doesn’t necessarily help you get where you want to be (I’m looking at you, Netflix).
If it takes 2 minutes, do it now
Two minutes is nothing. Even the kettle takes longer than that. If the task you are putting off only takes two minutes to do, just do it now. Once you get going, chances are you’ll do more than the one thing. You’ll gain the momentum you need to do more. It doesn’t even need to be a relevant task! By the time you’ve put the washing on, changed the toilet roll tube and called the dentist you’ll have much fewer distractions.
Making lists are always helpful. It’s nice to have everything laid out into smaller, achievable milestones and seeing the progress will spur you on to finish the list. Just make sure you don’t procrastinate by making more and more lists.
Block your social media
There are plenty of apps out there like Offtime that let you block social media for a set amount of time. If you don’t find the idea terrifying, then it might work for you. With less distractions at your fingertips you’re more likely to get something done. This, of course, doesn’t work if you use social media for work but for every thing else it’s worth a shot!
Reward good behaviour
A lot of people use a carrot or stick approach to work. The ‘carrot’ means giving yourself a reward for hitting certain milestones. Maybe you reward yourself with an hour of TV, a bowl of ice cream or finally letting yourself take your daily shower. This works well for some, but for others the urge to take the reward without the work is too extreme.
That’s the carrot. On the other hand…
Get a procrastinatrix
This is something that might not exist, but go with it. One of our team dreams of having someone ready to punish them each time they ignore what-needs-to-be-done for what-is-easy-to-do. Although you might not have a questionably-titled professional to help, you can always rope in a friend to post the ugly selfies or take away your junk food each time they catch you procrastinating.
Do something else
What do you mean that’s not helpful advice? Of course it is! If you’re sat in a funk all day *trying* to do your work and getting nowhere, it’s better to get up and leave. Go see your friends, make a meal or go to the gym. If you can’t concentrate, it might just be that you need to refocus. Spend some time not-thinking about whatever needs to be done and you might come back with a fresh perspective.
Talk to someone about it
If you’ve tried all of the above and still can’t find your get-up-and-go, then you may need help. We procrastinate for lots of different reasons and it might be because we’re scared of failing, we don’t think it’s the right choice, or we’re waiting for something better to come along. Having a heart-to-heart with a friend, family member, lecturer or business advisor might just be what you need to work out why you procrastinate so much.