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Tips to Overcome Procrastination

Even when you understand your priorities, it’s easy to avoid knuckling down and doing the work. Some warning signs that procrastination limits your effectiveness are: You sometimes put off a task until it’s too late; You take work home and return it to the office untouched; You intend to do things but forget; Your mail (or email) tends to pile up; or, You’re usually late or rushed.

A resource that could help you think about the reasons we procrastinate is the Why Do We Procrastinate document.

  1. Are You a Procrastinator? Take a short multiple-choice quiz, and then use the answer key to determine whether procrastination is limiting your success.
  2. Common excuses for procrastination. Here are four common procrastination excuses and ways to overcome them:
    • You don’t know where to start. Isolate a block of time at your desk or wherever you work best. Prioritize your work, and then jump in. If you’re so lost that you can’t even determine priorities, start at random. No matter what, at least begin.
    • The task isn’t challenging. Work on routine tasks when you’re in a good mood. Or try doing repetitive tasks differently.
    • You thrive on the last-minute rush. Set you own deadline, ahead of time, and forget about the real one. That way, you’ll never be late—and you can still benefit from that burst of inspiration.
    • You want to do it just right. Ask a helpful co-worker to point out when perfectionism causes you to procrastinate. Note these times, and begin to remove them from our routine.
      Picture of person’s own cycle of procrastination
      Picture of the six steps of procrastination
  3. More tips to beat procrastination.
    • Break large jobs down into smaller tasks.
    • Tell others about your deadlines and encourage them to check up on you.
    • Develop a clear mental picture of the completed task and how good you’ll feel when it’s finished.
  4. See Time Management Step One: Tame Your Workload for helpful hints on how to prioritize your work and how to craft to-do lists.
  5. Go to Step Three: Limit Interruptions to know how to control and reduce disruptions to your workflow.