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How to Overcome Procrastination


Impacts of Procrastination 

Procrastination impacts everyone. According to Dr. Joseph Ferrari of the American Psychological Association, around 20% of adults are chronic procrastinators. Whether you are procrastinating on an assignment in school, a project at work, or cleaning your home, there are simple ways to deal with this habit and become more productive. The act of procrastination is an action, as you choose one less effective or more enjoyable activity over a difficult or dreadful one. The signs of procrastination are different for everyone. For some, it may be working on meaningless tasks; for others, it may be making plans to avoid them. However procrastination looks for you, being able to reduce it can be vital for success. Research from David Arnott and Scott Dacko at Warwick Business School found that grades drop 5% as submissions get closer to deadlines. 

Throughout this blog, we will identify and detail many different strategies for reducing procrastination, from how to break up tasks to where you should go to reduce procrastination. The first step to dealing with this, however, is to identify what your personal procrastination looks like. 


Identify Personal Tendencies 

Reducing procrastination begins with self-awareness, requiring a sharp identification of moments when this tendency appears. To start, it is important to understand what is considered procrastination. Not every unproductive moment in your day necessarily stems from procrastination. When time is set out to relax and your tasks for the day are completed, being unproductive is not procrastination. However, intentionally being unproductive when you know some task or responsibility needs to be done is defined as procrastination. 

Procrastination manifests uniquely in each individual, encompassing various behaviors. Examples of procrastination include engaging in unnecessary tasks, exclusively tackling easy assignments, addressing long-postponed obligations, scrolling through social media, watching television, indulging in online shopping, making last-minute plans, or even busying oneself with seemingly productive yet non-urgent tasks. By pinpointing the specific actions you resort to during instances of active procrastination, you gain the ability to acknowledge and stop these behaviors as they occur. This self-awareness becomes a powerful tool, enabling you to intervene in real time and redirect your focus towards more meaningful and time-sensitive endeavors.


Start With Small Tasks 

Starting with smaller, easier tasks serves as a strong strategy to promote productivity for many reasons. The less overwhelming nature of small tasks creates less pressure around their accomplishment. When faced with a large, intimidating project, some may experience anxiety or fear of failure surrounding the task, leading to procrastination as a mechanism to cope with these worries. Completing small tasks provides a sense of accomplishment and positive reinforcement. Achieving these minor milestones triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with reward and motivation. This positive feedback loop helps to counteract the negative cycle of procrastination by instilling a sense of progress and satisfaction.

 Beginning with small tasks also can establish momentum. Once the initial obstacle of inactivity is overcome, individuals often find it easier to transition into more substantial and important tasks. The psychological boost gained from conquering small tasks pushes individuals forward, fostering a proactive mindset. Additionally, starting with small tasks helps to build a habit of consistent action. Habits are formed through repetition, and by consistently addressing smaller tasks, individuals develop a routine of productivity that can extend to more significant responsibilities over time. 


Break Tasks Down

Breaking tasks down into smaller, more manageable components is a powerful strategy to combat procrastination for several reasons. Firstly, it helps to alleviate the overwhelming nature of large tasks. When faced with a substantial project, individuals may feel daunted and uncertain about where to begin, leading to procrastination. Breaking the task into smaller parts makes it easier to approach, as each segment becomes less intimidating.

Having smaller tasks also allows for a clearer focus on specific actions. This increased clarity helps individuals define concrete steps and facilitates a more structured approach to their work. It becomes easier to set realistic goals and create a roadmap for completing each smaller task, reducing uncertainty and increasing the likelihood of making progress.

In addition, completing smaller tasks provides a sense of accomplishment. Each sub-task serves as a mini-milestone, offering a psychological reward that boosts motivation and counteracts the negative feelings associated with procrastination. This positive reinforcement reinforces the idea that progress is being made, promoting a more positive mindset. Finally, time management is also improved when tasks are broken up into smaller pieces. Individuals can allocate specific periods for each smaller task, making it easier to integrate work into their schedule. This approach prevents the procrastination-inducing perception of an insurmountable time commitment.


Disconnect From Distractions 

Disconnecting from distractions is a critical strategy for reducing procrastination as it addresses key factors that contribute to delayed tasks. By disengaging from distractions such as social media, notifications, or unrelated websites, individuals create a focused work environment. This helps to minimize interruptions and allows for sustained concentration on the task at hand, reducing the likelihood of succumbing to procrastination triggers.

Disconnecting from distractions will also help individuals regain control over their attention. During constant distractions, the large amount of information can be overwhelming, leading to a lack of focus. By intentionally disconnecting, individuals reclaim their space, enabling them to direct their attention purposefully toward their work. This heightened focus diminishes the allure of procrastination-inducing deviations.

Procrastination often thrives on avoidance and escapism, but by consciously disconnecting, individuals confront the task directly. Presence in the current moment is promoted significantly by disconnecting. This mindful engagement fosters a proactive mindset, making it more challenging for procrastination to take hold. Tasks that require a high amount of engagement and focus rely heavily on the elimination of distractions. Deep work involves focused efforts on demanding tasks and is often hindered by constant interruptions. By eliminating unnecessary interferences, individuals can gain a flow of knowledge, making it easier to overcome the initial resistance to starting a task. 


Leave Your Room 

One of the simplest strategies for reducing procrastination is changing your environment. The association between your bedroom or home and productivity is often low. A change of scenery can serve as a mental reset. Staying in the same environment for extended periods may lead to a sense of monotony and complacency, making it easier to succumb to procrastination. Leaving the room provides a physical and psychological break, helping to refresh the mind and create a renewed sense of purpose. Changing your environment also can eliminate potential distractions associated with your room space. Rooms are often filled with personal items, entertainment options, or other diversions that can contribute to procrastination. By stepping out, individuals reduce the temptation to engage in non-essential activities and create a more focused setting for productive work.

Moreover, leaving the room can be a deliberate act to signal a transition into a work or task-oriented mindset. The physical act of moving to a different location can serve as a symbolic shift from a leisure-oriented space to one dedicated to purposeful activities. This transition helps to overcome the mental barriers associated with starting a task and minimizes the procrastination-inducing effects of a familiar, comfortable environment.


Focus on Goals 

Focusing on goals rather than specific tasks can reduce procrastination by shifting the perspective and motivation surrounding objectives. Setting clear and meaningful goals can provide a sense of purpose and direction. By creating a compelling reason for completing a task and focusing on that reason or goal, it becomes a more powerful motivator than the mere task itself. The inclination to procrastinate is diminished because goals serve as a driving force that creates intrinsic motivation. 

Goals also offer a broader context for tasks, which connects them to larger aspirations. Understanding the bigger picture and how each task will contribute to the achievement of overarching goals can cultivate a sense of significance and urgency. Procrastination becomes less likely to detail progress with this perspective because of its fostering of a proactive mindset. 

Time management and prioritization are also improved by focusing on goals. When individuals have a clear understanding of their objectives, they can prioritize tasks based on their contribution to the larger goal. Tasks that are integral to the attainment of these goals are less likely to be procrastinated using this approach because it helps to organize work efficiently while also encouraging a sense of accomplishment. As tasks are completed in alignment of overarching goals, there is a continuous sense of progress experienced, reinforcing this productive behavior. This positive reinforcement becomes an extremely powerful factor in reducing the negative cycle of procrastination. 


Take Breaks

When it comes to taking breaks, there is a strategic approach that will benefit the reduction of procrastination tendencies; however, too many or too long of breaks can feed into this cycle. Breaks serve as rest for the brain. When focusing continuously on a task, mental fatigue and lack of motivation can make it easy to succumb to procrastination. By scheduling breaks, individuals can recharge and refresh their minds, returning to tasks with increased energy and focus. Burnout and high-stress levels can also be improved through strategic breaks in work. When individuals are overwhelmed or stressed about the demands of a task, procrastination is often used as a coping mechanism. The incorporation of breaks can help manage stress levels more effectively while reducing the likelihood of using procrastination as a means of avoidance. 

Creativity and problem-solving skills can also be enhanced when breaks are taken. Stepping away from a task allows the mind to engage in diffuse thinking which can lead to creative insights and solutions to problems and activities. Motivation and the ability to tackle tasks better after a break can minimize the tendency to procrastinate. 

Finally, breaks can be used as a reward mechanism. Knowing that a break is approaching or that there is a designated time for relaxation can serve as an incentive to stay focused and complete tasks efficiently. This approach to work and rest helps to create a balance that reduces the desire to procrastinate.


Reward Yourself 

Rewarding yourself is a powerful motivational strategy that can significantly reduce procrastination by creating positive reinforcement for productive behavior. Firstly, rewards provide a tangible incentive for completing tasks. Knowing that a reward is coming after the completion of a task serves as a motivational factor, making individuals more likely to overcome procrastination and engage in the necessary work to earn the reward.

Rewards can also break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable segments. By setting intermediate goals and attaching rewards to their achievement, individuals can create a step-by-step approach to difficult or time-consuming tasks. This not only makes the overall task seem less overwhelming but also provides multiple opportunities for reinforcement, reducing the likelihood of procrastination at each stage.

Finally, rewarding yourself introduces a sense of balance and self-care into your work routine. It acknowledges the effort invested in completing tasks and reinforces the idea that taking breaks or treating oneself is a healthy part of a productive work-life balance. This perspective can counteract feelings of burnout or feeling overwhelmed, which often contribute to procrastination.

Overall, rewarding yourself is an effective strategy for reducing procrastination by providing incentives, breaking down tasks into manageable steps, and promoting a healthy work-life balance. It transforms the task at hand into a more positive and rewarding experience, making individuals more motivated to tackle their responsibilities and minimizing the urge to procrastinate.


How Smith Learning Services Can Help

At Smith Learning Servives, LLC, we are dedicated to developing personalized tutoring sessions for individuals at all levels of education. Our expert tutors understand the struggles of procrastination and have the tools to help you conquer it. Whether you are facing overwhelming tasks or distractions or simply need the motivation to begin a difficult project, our tutors are equipped with the strategies to fit your needs. We can help you break down complex subjects into manageable ideas, combat distractions, and foster an environment conducive to learning. 


To learn more about Smith Learning Services, LLC, or to schedule your tutoring session today, visit smithlearningservices.com




https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2010/04/procrastination 

https://www.wbs.ac.uk/news/leaving-essays-to-the-last-minute-can-ruin-your-grades/


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