Procrastination is the enemy of many, but for those of us struggling to get started there are a number of techniques that can be used in the pursuit of greater productivity.
Brandeis University professor of management and psychology Andy Molinsky wrote earlier this year at Inc. that while “lots of people procrastinate, and, for the most part, to their detriment”, there is hope for those seeking to make headway.
Here are four of his tips.
Tackle the hardest task first
Completing your hardest task first could be a satisfying start to the day.
Molinsky observed by doing “the most challenging and difficult to-do item on your list before anything else”, it will be checked off, however adds the proviso that you should do so only if you are up to it.
Of course, not everyone is a morning person, and Molinsky says it’s worthwhile to time challenging tasks so they coincide with when your performance tends to be at its peak.=
Are you accountable?
Putting your intentions out there, in a public sphere, could provide further motivation to follow through.
Molinsky observes procrastinators could benefit by making themselves accountable via public pledges.
“You don’t necessarily have to announce it to the world – especially if you’re a private person and don’t really want to share what you’re working on,” he wrote.
“But find someone supportive you can be accountable to and tell them. It might be a close friend, or a colleague, or a group you belong to. The more you’re accountable, the more likely you’ll be to follow through.”
Acknowledge your achievements, however small
Even the smallest amount of progress can be worth acknowledging.
Molinsky says procrastination and perfectionism often go together, and perfectionists may not be inclined to celebrate small achievements.
“But in actuality these are achievements worth noting and celebrating,” he wrote.
“It’s not easy to take the plunge and do something outside your comfort zone. So, celebrate your small win and move on to the next one.”
Know the purpose of procrastination
Does procrastination provide pause for perspective?
Molinsky says it’s worth keeping in mind that not all procrastination is necessarily bad. You could actually view it as something needed to work through a task.
“Though, of course, there is a really important caveat here: that you actually return to the task at [the] end – because if not, then basking in the worthiness of procrastination becomes itself yet another tricky procrastination technique,” he writes.