Procrastination is something that we're all guilty of. Even as working professionals, it's easy to carry over some bad habits from our younger selves that we may find difficult to break away from. Procrastination can lead to a lot of late nights, stressful days, and, even worse, missed deadlines, which can truly be detrimental to anyone's career in the long run.
But what if your procrastination could be turned into an incredible tool? Harnessing this habit into something amazing can be a powerful asset to your productivity and work life. Wanting to put off a task that you'd rather avoid is understandable, but it's what you actually do with that urge that really matters.
Sharing from my own personal experience, here are three ways that I've managed to turn my procrastination around into lasting success.
1. Be accountable if you find yourself procrastinating.
We all procrastinate. Students, business professionals, you name it. A bad habit will always be difficult to break, but holding yourself accountable when you start procrastinating is the first step to nipping it in the bud.
If you keep putting off a big assignment, consider asking yourself how you can break it down into more manageable chunks in order to complete it. Can you start with something smaller, like sending a few emails first, before moving on to tackling something bigger?
What I've also found helpful is creating a to-do list for the day to prioritize exactly what it is I need to accomplish. I can also guarantee that it will provide an amazing burst of inspiration when checking off items from your list, especially as you continue to do so. Additionally, it will help keep you organized and make sure your workload stays on track.
2. Designate a set amount of time to purely work.
Although it may seem daunting, you need to put your phone (and any other distractions) away.
Set a 20-minute timer for yourself to focus solely on your task at hand, and try to get as much done as possible in that designated period. By doing so, you'll be focusing all your energy towards what you actually need to complete, while putting a stop to your otherwise continuous cycle of self-sabotage.
As for after that set amount of time? Reward yourself. Take a quick walk or snack break, and come back to it again renewed and refreshed. Continue increasing the timer until you find a good rhythm for your productivity, and the impulse to reach for your phone has lessened or decreased.
3. Learn to embrace deadlines.
Deadlines and timelines genuinely don't have to be the enemy here. Instead, utilize any stressful energy you have towards a deadline and put it to much better use: fueling your motivation.
Start by creating a timeline of soft deadlines to meet before your actual hard deadline date. These mini goals can help to channel any stress you have towards your final due date into productivity, and ensure that you won't be rushing or forgetting anything along the way when working towards it.
Sometimes though, a final deadline can creep up on you from under your own nose. When this happens, I embrace it fully and tackle my stress head on. This always gives me a rush of energy to power through my work faster (and sometimes even better) than I may have originally thought possible, while also giving me that needed push to succeed at a time when I may have questioned the opposite.