You have an important meeting next week Tuesday and you have to make an excellent presentation. The more you think about it is the more you know you have to get cracking. But, there's this amazing concert that's happening tonight. All of your friends are going. Besides, you'll have all weekend to prepare. So, you go to the concert and have an awesome time. On Saturday, your girlfriend wants your help with fixing her dilapidated kitchen cupboards. Who knew that would take the whole day? When you got home you were too tired to do anything. Most definitely you'll start working on the presentation on Sunday. On Sunday morning your mom invites you for a spontaneous family get together at your old home. She vows to disown you if you don't go. So you give in. You can work on the presentation on Monday. Before you know it, Monday night comes and you have nothing prepared. So, you have to stay up till the crack of dawn putting something together for Tuesday's presentation. You walk into the meeting tired as hell, but you deliver something. Your boss liked it, but you know you could have done much better and truly gained his respect if you had started working on the presentation sooner.
Does this scenario sound like something that would happen to you? If it does then you are a true procrastinator. Some people produce their best work under pressure. If you know that you don't fit this description, procrastination is definitely something you should avoid. Here are some tips to help you break free from this bad habit.
Create a Scheduled Checklist
When you have a task to complete, list all of the steps that are required to complete it and the date by which you should complete each step. The best place for you to put your checklist is on your smartphone or tablet since you use those devices frequently. On these devices you can also create alerts that will tell you that it's time to start a particular task. The following is an example of a checklist that I had created for my GRE preparation a few months ago.
Task Date to be Completed
Practice the Verbal Component January 10, 2014
Practice the Quantitative Portion January 17,2014
Complete a Full Practice Test January 25, 2014
Strengthen Weak Areas February 1, 2014
I had very little time to prepare for the exam because of when I registered. This is the reason for the timeline being so short. However, I hope you get a general idea of how to create a scheduled checklist for your task.
Learn to Say No
We all would much rather have fun than do work. However, there are times when work has to take precedence over fun. The better you are at your job is also the more likely you'll be promoted. So, if you really don't have the time to meet the demands of your friends and family, explain your situation and tell them no. They may initially be hurt but they'll get over it after awhile. It's also possible that the sooner you start is the sooner you'll be able to finish. So, you may not even have to tell a lot of people no.
When you say no you may begin to think about how much fun you could be having with your friends or family. This can be counterproductive since you won't be able to focus to complete the task before you. Learn to train your mind to focus. Block everything else out and pour your energy into getting the assignment done. When it's done you can go and have fun.
Procrastination is something you can overcome. Just do what you're supposed to do when you're supposed to do it. It'll reduce your stress and probably give you even more time to do what you really want to do.