Do the worst thing first
You have your least favourite task to complete today. Whether it’s mind-numbing number checking, audits, or something else, sit yourself down and make it happen as soon as you arrive.
If you let it linger, you’ll only prolong the stress of knowing it needs to be done. Do it first thing and you’ll minimise this discomfort and allow yourself to focus on other tasks afterwards without the most unpleasant one looming over you like a dark cloud.
It may seem counterintuitive to getting things done, but no human can work constantly without a break.
A little time out to get a coffee, chat with a friend or take a walk around the block can be enough to clear your head and mentally prepare you to get started on the task as soon as you get back to work.
Do 5-minute jobs immediately
One of the best anti-procrastination tools you have in your toolbox is the 5-minute rule. That is: If a job only takes 5 minutes or less, do it immediately.
It may be that you need to reply to an email, make a call, book an appointment, or ask someone a question. These will all take only a few minutes, but when you ignore enough of these small jobs, simply knowing they need to be done can become mentally overwhelming. Clear your plate mentally by sorting them out as soon as they crop up.
Break the work down
A lot of the time, we procrastinate starting a project because it seems so large and unmanageable. When you find yourself putting a task off for this reason, break the task down into tiny, tiny, manageable steps.
The first step may simply be ‘print out the necessary documents’ – easy enough right? This step is far less daunting, so you can do it right away. If your second step is equally small, that will seem easy, too. Tackling a big job like this with tiny steps is a good way to move through it.
Is your mobile phone within arm’s reach right this second? Perhaps you’re reading this on your phone? If yes, you’re not alone. As much as 79 per cent of 18-44 year olds keep their phones on them for 22 hours per day, which means personal emails, social media, games, news sites, and more are all at your fingertips.
When you already don’t want to do something, picking up that phone or any other distraction becomes far more appealing. Put your phone in your bag at your feet and out of sight until you get the job done.
Set yourself a time limit
Leaving a project open-ended is a good way to let your mind wander as you work. Finishing a task ‘today sometime’ does not carry the same weight as finishing ‘before 2pm’, yet you will surprise yourself with how quickly you can complete your work when you really set yourself to it.
Be sure to give yourself a realistic timeline, as unrealistic ones will only leave you feeling deflated.
Work with others on a similar wavelength
Working with others can go two ways. They may distract you and add to your procrastination, in which case you should consider removing yourself from the situation.
On the other hand, working around others who are focused on their tasks can help you join in and keep your head down and your mind on the job, too.