Procrastination—the sneaky habit we’ve all fallen victim to since before we even knew there was a word for it. But now, in this new era of shifting work-life boundaries, dueling to-do lists and much comfier work attire, it’s plaguing some of us more than ever (speaking for a friend, of course).
Fear not, dear readers! Enjoy a few final moments of sweet doing-nothingness and read these 5 tips for getting your booty back in gear.
1. Cut the distractions
Love to sing along to your jams? Switch to something instrumental. Family keeps walking past you? Move somewhere more isolated. Shoes too tight? Loosen ‘em up. Do whatever’s necessary to eliminate the excess “noise” in your space, so the only thing left to focus on is the work.
2. Set incentives that work for you
You’ve heard it before: work for 10 minutes, break for 5… no social media until you accomplish XYZ… but who actually does that (effectively)? Try this instead: think about what would ACTUALLY motivate YOU, then break your task into logical, achievable sections. Now, be strict with yourself! Maybe you decide to go for a walk, only after you’ve completed one task, or perhaps allow yourself a piece of candy after each mini-milestone. Whatever it is, keep the requirements manageable and the rewards worth it.
3. Change your environment
Procrastination breeds in comfort, which is partly why it’s such a tough antagonist right now! So even if it feels like a step in the right direction to settle into your home office or workspace with all the cozy must-haves, you could really just be inviting yourself to get off task. Instead, try mixing things up. Move to a different room, set up shop outside, or simply face a different direction in your chair. It can help shake out the mental fogginess (…or laziness) and even spark a sense of purpose… “I’m here to get work done, so I better do it.”
4. Call BS on yourself
You’re not hungry. The house isn’t messy. Your coffee isn’t THAT cold yet. Just do your dang work, already. Be frank with yourself and learn to identify when the urge to do something that isn’t your work, is actually just you trying to weasel out of doing your work. No excuses!
5. Cut yourself some slack… but just a little
“All things in moderation” can apply to procrastination, too. The mind works in mysterious ways, so sometimes a little down time is necessary for an idea to come to fruition—just don’t go crazy. Find the discipline to keep chipping away at your work, while allowing yourself the flexibility to decompress. It’s all about balance. Being mad at yourself for being unproductive is probably more harmful than putting something off. So, create a framework that allows you to flow from work to non-work, with the understanding that it’s all an essential part of the process.
Angela Jones is a VP, Creative at Seed Strategy and Managing Editor for Seed’s e-mag, The Fire Theft Project: Conversations on Creativity. She specializes in capturing the essence of new ideas and helping lead teams towards a fully realized creative vision.