What do you do when you find yourself dragging your feet to get stuff done? How do you overcome the emotional hurdles that prevent you from completing a task or set of tasks that need to be accomplished?
Most of us experience some form of procrastination at one point or another. By its definition, procrastination is the practice of doing more pleasurable or less urgent tasks over ones that are less pleasurable or more urgent. Does this sound like something you occasionally do? Especially without the encouragement or goading from others, it can become seemingly impossible to muster up enough self-control to start.
To gain the control you need to initiate and complete those crucial tasks, learn to motivate yourself with these 10 easy strategies.
(1) Plan out your day with achievable tasks. When your day is jammed packed with too many tasks to do, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Set up a schedule that you can complete. Add in extra time to accomplish each task and use any remaining time to relax and have fun.
(2) Break down complex tasks into smaller chunks. Whenever a complicated or time- consuming task becomes too daunting, break it down into mini tasks. Set aside the bigger picture and start working through one small portion at a time. Before you know it, you will be able to check off the task as being done.
(3) Mix it up. The best way to start on your daily tasks is to move from simple to more complex. Once you get going, it will become easier to accomplish your “to do” list. Throughout the day, mix it up by doing a combination of easier to more challenging tasks.
(4) Limit your time on task. Don’t get bogged down by spending too much time on one task. Establish a fixed amount of time to work on your task and stick to it. To begin, you might want to limit yourself to 10 minutes at the most. Go back to the task until it is completed. Once you get started, it will be hard to stop.
(5) Have a positive attitude. Assume a “can do” attitude, and you will be successful. To a large extent, it’s a matter of believing in yourself and a willingness to put forth the effort to accomplish great things. Those who say “I can’t” generally prove themselves to be right.
(6) Take short breaks. Maximize your productivity by taking short breaks from time to time. Use these breaks to stretch your body and refocus your mind. Especially if you spend large amounts of time on a computer, these breaks will help to reduce eye, back, and neck strain if taken every 20 minutes or so.
(7) Benchmark your progress: If you have established a reasonable set of tasks for the day, you should be able to start scratching them off your “to do” list. Even if your “to do” list is in your mind, be sure to acknowledge the completion of a task.
(8) Reward yourself. As soon as you have accomplished a task, give yourself a meaningful reward for a job well done. Make your rewards special enough that they will encourage you to continue with your remaining tasks for the day.
(9) Find an accountability partner. For those challenging tasks, find a partner to help you keep on track. Share your progress with him or her and be willing to discuss solutions to possible obstacles.
(10) Deal with setbacks. No matter how good your intentions, there will always be setbacks. When these occur, don’t get discouraged. Regroup and put into play a new course of action that will enable you to achieve positive outcomes.
Overall, people in today’s world tend to be busy but not necessarily productive. When you accomplish crucial tasks, you will not only improve your efficiency but increase your sense of self-worth.
Learn to motivate yourself, and you will achieve.
Written by: Patricia K. Flanigan, Smart Strategies for Successful Living
Patricia K. Flanigan has worked in higher education for over 28 years. She holds a doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne as well as a M.A. in Latin American Studies and B.A. in Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Before retiring and moving to Idaho in 2015, she served as the dean of online education and learning resources at Saddleback College, a large community college in Southern California. She currently consults in higher education, volunteers for AARP, writes for a local magazine, and serves as an Affiliate Faculty member at Boise State University and on the Board for LEARN Idaho. Since February 2017, she has been the founding director for Smart Strategies for Successful Living, a community-based website designed to promote quality aging. As an educator, her focus is to inspire others to live and age well.