20 May 2020

Whether you’re guilty of being a serial procrastinator or just doing it every so often, here are 10 ways to beat it

2:00 min

It’s 8:00 am and you’re ready for work. You’re sitting in front of the computer preparing for a productive day ahead. Six episodes of “Baking Wars” later, you’re on your third cup of coffee with nothing to show for your day so far. Procrastination has a way of creeping up on us and ruining the well-made plans we had for our day. It’s time to get to grips with time!


1. Be an early bird

Rise and shine! Our brains tend to be more alert and productive in the morning and early afternoon. Try to tackle bigger projects during the first half of the day and save the smaller, administrative tasks for later. And try to get a good night’s sleep to refuel your brain.

2. Pump up your inner self

Never underestimate the power of a self-pep talk. Speaking to yourself in the second or third person provides a different perspective to the task at hand, making it easier to coach yourself “into” or “out of” something. When you’re hitting that mid-week slump, telling yourself “you got this” or “you can do it” can help get the job done.

3. Shun the panic monster

We’ve all been there. You’ve had 3 months to prepare for a project and now it’s due tomorrow. Unsurprisingly, panic kicks in. The best way to avoid the panic monster is to set realistic, self-imposed deadlines. If you fail to meet a deadline, don’t be afraid to hold yourself accountable. Perhaps you don’t get pizza this week, or you miss out on your favourite show. The objective is to incentivise achievement.

4. Hide away distractions

Distraction and procrastination are best friends. Our best chance of beating them is to separate the two. If your biggest distraction is your cellphone, for example, put it away or ask someone to hide it from you. If your biggest distraction is the TV, hide the remote or sit away from it in another room. Removing surrounding distractions will help us focus on the task at hand in a specified amount of time. When you finish the task, reward yourself.

5. Treat time!

Our brains respond to reward stimulus. Treating ourselves after completing a task enables us to form focus habits. Enjoying a warm bubble bath, eating a pint of ice cream, indulging in trash TV, or whatever your guilty pleasure is – self-reward at the end of a task will help fight off those procrastination urges.

6. Don’t run and hide

Is the work ahead haunting you in your sleep? Try breaking down the job into smaller, bite-sized tasks. Smaller jobs will make it all seem less daunting. And instead of burying our heads in the sand to avoid these tasks, remind yourself that the pile of work isn’t going anywhere and confronting it is the only way to make the job disappear.

7. Have a “beast-mode” playlist

Music has the power to energise and reinvigorate us. When our self-motivation starts dwindling, it’s time to pump up the volume on the “beast mode” playlist. Better yet, if you have a go-to motivational video on YouTube, hit play and ride the adrenaline wave. Get to that finish line!

8. Find an accountability buddy

Having someone we can lean on for support and encouragement can help us stay more focused in achieving our goals. Why not make it fun? The next time you hit all your deadlines, have a virtual celebration with your buddy.

9. Take a victory lap

Eventually all the small deadlines lead to a finale. The hard work of overcoming procrastination has finally paid off. You’ve presented the deliverable in tiptop shape. Celebrate your success! It’s a milestone worthy of recognition.

10. A lesson in history

Leonardo da Vinci, a chronic procrastinator, later regretted having left many of his sketches, sculptures and inventions unfinished. During his lifetime, he gained a reputation amongst his peers as unreliable. He self-admittedly wrote that “it is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end” when it came to procrastination. But when he DID complete a painting, it was the Mona Lisa. Don’t regret the projects you never finished or the chances you never took. Seize the moment!