Overcoming the Distractions That Influence Procrastination
“Tools” for both parents and their children.
Procrastination can happen at any time. It is not enough to identify that you are avoiding a project. You need to take active steps to remove the temptation to procrastinate. By taking control of your schedule and school/work environment, you will be able to reduce the amount of time that you spend procrastinating each day. In turn, you will be able to improve your productivity and accomplish your goals. You will create more time to do the things you really want to do.
We are bombarded with distractions every day. These distractions are only temptations to procrastinate. By removing as many distractions as possible, you will be on track to overcoming procrastination.
Distractions to Avoid:
- Clutter: Clean up your space at the end of each day, at home, school, and in the office. This will help to keep you focused, and you will not be tempted to clean during a project.
- Email notification: Establish specific times to check email. Automatic notifications are distracting and cut into the time you spend on each project. Mealtime is an ideal time.
- Telephone calls: Do not take all calls. Choose a time to return calls and texts.
- Social Media: Schedule specific times to check on social media and texting.
- Searching the “Web”: Only as a “tool” to do research or do work, all other Internet-based activities should be left until after all key tasks are completed.
- Environment: Remove distractions such as video games, social media, card games, books, magazines, TVs etc., from your work or study area.
Start Small and Build
A habit of procrastination does not happen overnight. Equally, it is not possible to stop procrastinating overnight. Expecting an immediate change will only lead to disappointment. You need to start small and build in order to end procrastination once and for all. Begin by creating a daily “to do list” for your personal life. Include the daily tasks that you have trouble completing such as homework, studying, laundry, paying the bills, garbage or cleaning the kitchen. When you have stability in your personal schedule, it will be easier to address procrastination at work.
Create a daily schedule for work once you have broken down your larger tasks into smaller ones. As your productivity increases, you will be able to build upon your schedule. You will soon find that you are finishing tasks ahead of schedule and school.
People tend to procrastinate because they do not find certain tasks to be enjoyable. Procrastination becomes its own reward. Overcoming procrastination requires that you implement a reward system for completing tasks. Otherwise, you will revert to bad habits. Rewards should match the tasks completed. For example, taking 10 minutes on Snapchat could be a reward for completing an assignment or responding to all work-related email before 5pm. Similarly, going to a movie (after COVID times) could be a reward for completing larger more important tasks on time. When choosing rewards, you need to stay away from anything that you already have planned. For example, if you already have plans to go out with friends on a weekend, the outing will not serve as a reward. Using the appropriate rewards will improve motivation and help prevent procrastination.
Set Realistic Deadlines
Schedules and deadlines will help you stay focused and avoid procrastination. When setting deadlines, however, you must be realistic. Deadlines that are not realistic will actually contribute to anxiety, avoidance, and procrastination. If you do not give yourself a chance of completing a task on time, you will avoid it. If you are creating your own deadline, you should consider how long similar tasks have taken. Be honest and allow time for interruptions and emergencies. Do not create a schedule based on the best-case scenario. You are setting yourself up for failure. If you are assigned a deadline, determine if it is realistic. If the deadline is not realistic, you should attempt to negotiate a more realistic date. This negotiation should be done as quickly as possible to prevent complications later.
Dr. Eric J. Nach, Ph.D., M.Ed., A.S.D.C., is a Developmental and Behavioral Specialist. Since 2012 he has been the Founder and President of the Support for Students Growth Center in Boca Raton, FL, where he and his team of professionals provide the Social, Academic, Behavioral and Emotional support services for Children, Teens, Young Adults and their Families, In-person, Online, Nationwide and Worldwide.