Whether you have a tendency to put off long-range projects, like planning new science units and writing report card comments, or short-term tasks, like calling a difficult parent or grading those papers the kids finished two days ago, procrastination is a work habit worth overcoming. It's a major time-stealer and can impede career growth if it gets in the way of meeting important deadlines. Plus, as the to-do pile increases, so does your stress level. Here are some tips on curbing procrastination.
- Make a list of the tasks and projects you procrastinate.
- Identify whether the items on your list have something in common and analyze why you tend to put them off. Is it because there is no specific deadline, or you don't have enough time to start and finish the project? Do you need additional information to proceed? Is it because you dislike some aspect of the task?
- Whatever the problem is, address it. For example, if there is no deadline for completion, give yourself one. If the task is overwhelmingly big, break it down into smaller chunks. If you need additional information, take steps to find out who can provide it to you or where you can get it. If you don’t like some aspect of the task, do the parts you like first.
- Just get started. Often, the act of getting started and making small inroads will propel you forward.
- Remember to prioritize. Use a to-do list to keep all your projects and their subcomponents on the radar. As projects are completed, check them off. There's satisfaction in actually having a visual reminder that you've made progress.
- If you have trouble meeting deadlines, give yourself an earlier due date than the project requires. This simple trick has an uncanny way of keeping projects on track. No more all-nighters.
- Reward yourself when you've completed a big task. It doesn't have to be expensive. Maybe a chai latte or that walk in the park you've been meaning to take.