Let’s be honest. If you’re like most people, you probably have a task that you’ve been procrastinating on – whether it’s something you’ve been putting off because it’s daunting and challenging like creating a new business proposal, or because it’s time-consuming and tedious like developing a report.
But the reality is that, whatever the task, you will eventually have to get it done regardless. The trouble is that understanding you inevitably have to tackle the task doesn’t necessarily make it easier to do.
The good news is that most of the time, the problem isn’t the task, but rather simply getting started on it. And getting started is something you can train yourself to do.
Here are 6 tips to help push through the procrastination and accomplish the task you’ve been putting off.
1. Create Accountability
Nothing helps light a fire under you like the creation of accountability. Write down your goal and set yourself a deadline. This may seem simple, but don’t underestimate the power of putting your deliverables down on paper.
Another great way to build accountability is to talk about a task – whether to friends, family or colleagues. Once you verbalize a task or goal, it creates external pressure to fulfill it – even if that pressure is only perceived.
2. Break Your Goal into Bite-Sized Pieces
One of the most common reasons why people procrastinate on a task is that it seems overwhelming. If you take a look at the things you’ve been putting off, there’s a good chance with at least one of them that it’s because you simple haven’t been sure where to begin with it. This isn’t uncommon – the bigger the goal, the more quickly it can feel overwhelming, and in turn become easier to put off.
To help avoid this, break your goal into bite-size pieces. Dissect the task into manageable deliverables and steps. You don’t always have to know exactly how you’re going to accomplish a task – sometimes you need to figure things out as you go – but taking the first step is the only way to get going.
3. Visualize Success
Think of yourself as a runner and your task as a marathon. Visualize the success of yourself crossing the finish line. Imagine the emotions you will feel when you accomplish your task. Maybe it’s relief that you’ve scratched this bothersome little item off your to-do list. Or maybe it’s the pride of accomplishment, or the joy of celebrating the success of a big new business win. Whatever it might be – big or small – visualize the victory of accomplishing the task.
4. Understand the Costs Associated with Inaction
While it’s generally not productive to live in the negative, harnessing a little bit of negativity can actually get you going. In business, no task on your to-do list is there for no reason. Things don’t just materialize from nowhere. For the most part, every task has a purpose, and every unfulfilled task has a consequence. Leveraging your fear of the repercussions of failure to complete a task is a great way to get yourself motivated to start on it.
5. Implement Effective Time Management
Oftentimes we procrastinate because we get so bogged down with other priorities that a task just seems to fall by the wayside. Then, by the time we finally get around to it, the day is all but over. Mastering the art of time management can be challenging, but it can also help you maximize time in order to accomplish tasks you’ve been procrastinating on.
6. Reward Yourself
It’s important to celebrate small success and progress. It can be something as big as promising yourself a night of celebrating once you’ve finished the task, to allowing yourself a 20-minute break or a small treat once you’ve finished a particular portion of the task. Whatever your reward, the key is to create incentives that will help keep you motivated.
Procrastination isn’t a personal problem specific to you. It’s a challenge faced by almost everyone, almost every day. But by implementing the right steps and processes, you can help yourself push past procrastination and make accomplishing those daunting tasks a much more painless process.