Avoid Procrastination – Top Tips from Scientists

It's Not Just You! Research Shows Procrastination is a Common Issue for Many People

Avoid ProcrastinationDo you spend a lot of time working on anything other than the most important and urgent things that will ensure that you make progress and meet your deadlines with ease? If so, don’t worry you’re not alone! Scientists have found that procrastination is a common issue for many people, both at work and at home.

However, you can avoid procrastination and the inevitable stress that comes from not getting your tasks completed on time.

Use these techniques to get your procrastination under control:

1. Understand procrastination. Why do you leave important things for the last minute and waste time on other activities?

• Scientists have been studying the brain and feelings to understand procrastination. A study, titled “Overcoming procrastination,” looked at why people put things aside despite knowing their importance.

• Researchers believe self-esteem and world views can affect procrastination. People who have low self-esteem and negative views of the world around them are more likely to avoid doing important things on time. They’re more likely to see no point in completing the tasks.

• However, procrastination can also be a simple bad habit.

2. Break up the work into smaller bits. Can your assignments or chores be cut up into smaller pieces?

• One reason for procrastination is that large assignments or chores can seem overwhelming and too difficult to finish. If you break up things into smaller chunks, then each piece can be accomplished easier.

• Making timelines and schedules for each part of the project can also help you stay on track.

3. Recognize your procrastination activities. Do you play games instead of working on your project? Are you checking social media instead of finishing a report? Track and analyze your activities.

• What do you do while you procrastinate? If you examine these activities and thoughts, you can catch them before they happen.

• Social media, games, and Smartphone messages are distractions. Emails and phone calls can also be an issue. Do you see how much time you waste on these activities instead of completing the actual task?

• You can eliminate the distractions and activities that keep you from finishing your work. Stop checking your phone and social media while you’re working on a task. Avoid playing the games until you’re done with your chore.

4. Get others involved. You may need to involve friends, coworkers, of family to help you. They can help you set goals, watch you, and help you to avoid procrastination.

• If you have a friend or coworker who is also trying to accomplish an important goal, then working together can make the process easier. You can inspire each other to stay focused and finish.

5. Stop the excuses. Do you find yourself making multiple excuses for not finishing a project? Do you blame your health or the health of others? Do you complain about the amount of work or lack of instructions? Excuses can derail your efforts and lead to procrastination.

• Common excuses also include thinking that you can finish it faster if you are on a tight deadline or blaming your mood for not doing it. Another common excuse is waiting for the time to be right or just perfect. These excuses are unhealthy and waste your energy.

• Instead of coming up with reasons not to complete an assignment, focus on finishing it.

Procrastination doesn’t have to be a permanent habit in your life. You can avoid it and prevent it by following simple tips from scientists.

What will you do to avoid procrastination?

Till Next Time

Mike Gardner – The Time Doctor

Mike Gardner aka ‘The Time Doctor’ and is highly regarded as one of the UK’s leading Time Management and productivity specialists. As well as being regularly featured in both online and off-line media outlets around the world, he is the author of the best selling time management book, Business Owners: Your Family Misses You. He regularly speaks on topics that are congruent with his mission of helping small business owners, entrepreneurs and independent professionals to be incredibly productive, whilst still balancing their business and family commitments in a way that enables them to feel fulfilled and guilt-free. He is an avid Aston Villa fan, a Dad to Neil & Emma, a hubby to Wendy and in his role as an Officer with the reserve forces, he has completed operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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10 thoughts on “Avoid Procrastination – Top Tips from Scientists

  1. This is a very common issue. Right now I am having trouble with something and waiting for a reply to a support ticket. It has me so off focus it’s not funny. Need this problem solved and it is taking major time due to the support ticket being in Europe, so lucky if I get one answer a day.

    Off to start focusing on something else as there is nothing I can do and no need to waste time.

  2. It is certainly a comfort to know that I am not alone!! The only reasons why I do procrastinate are likely to be below:
    Something new, not sure how to do!
    It is a ‘chore’ to work. Distractions are so much fun and easier!
    No deadline. Even with deadline available, no clear indication and time pressing!
    Overwhelming mountain load. Where shall I start…. (You have addressed on this above)
    and more… :)

    Excuse me now that I have more confident in tackling my mountain. Chat again soon Mike :) Great and helpful post, as always! :)
    Sandy recently posted…How Finishing This Half Hearted Artpiece Made Me Feel CompleteMy Profile

  3. Great tips, Mike. Thanks for the inspiring article.

    One of the things I do to avoid procrastination is to try to make distractions unavailable. For instance, if I am working on a Word document, I turn off the internet. And I use a timer. I set the timer for 30 minutes and tell myself not to do anything else until it goes off. Often I get absorbed enough in what I am doing that I don’t stop when the time is up.
    Hollie Hawley recently posted…Prepped In A Year: My Kindle BookMy Profile

  4. These are some great tips. I particularly like the one about noticing what you are doing instead of the task at hand. I will definitley be suggesting that one to my favorite procrastinator. Lol.
    Carol King recently posted…Short, Sweet and SassyMy Profile

  5. Great post Mike. Nice to have some clear direction when it comes to something we all do, at least a little.

  6. Mike,
    Great tips! I’ve tried lots of different techniques to avoid procrastination. Sometimes, I think, it’s just a matter of having TOO MUCH TO DO! So I’m also working on cutting out so much busyness from my life. Wish me luck! (wink)
    Amy recently posted…Three Tips on How to Build CommunityMy Profile

  7. Good tips Mike, thanks.

    My bad habit is putting off the “hard” tasks, in favour of easier ones, although the tasks I do are still work.

    A variation of your tip 2 that I read once was to tell yourself you would just do 5 minutes and then you could stop if you wanted. Apparently the brain is programmed to “finish a task” once started.

    So – having said that – I must do 5 minutes on a particular task I’ve been promising myself I would do for quite some time now!

    Have a good week, Joy
    Joy Healey recently posted…Review of Speedy Social Sales by Sue and Dan WorthingtonMy Profile

  8. Haha. Great list of things that make us procrastinate. I know the feeling–do it too, and blame it on my health. Trouble is, I’m right. If I do something I know is beyond me, I suffer afterward. I guess I’ll need help. Thanks for the solution that was staring me in the face.