Procrastination describes the habitual way of pushing things aside, delaying or postponing tasks. Often times, we know what we should be doing but don’t just want to do it or we feel that there’s still plenty of time to do those things.

These postponed tasks pile up and can put us under undue pressure. Besides, completion of certain tasks can be linked to future opportunities. When we put off things we ought to do, we reduce our chances of laying hold of such opportunities and moving on to other things.

Procrastination is the reason we find it easy to push aside assignments until the very last minute. Yet, we put ourselves under stress and exhaustion to turn in an assignment that, most times, doesn’t represent our best work.

It is Sunday evening, the time is running out and you are agitated. You find yourself rushing to complete an assignment before a Monday morning deadline. You seriously wished you had started earlier than you did. How did you get here? How did you lose your focus?

Well, here are a few answers. The hours you spend checking social media and re-reading messages, the many breaks you took to “just get a snack” and all the time spent doing other tasks that aren’t urgent and could have been left for the following week.

If this resonates with you, then you are not alone. Many people fall into the trap of procrastination and this holds us back a lot even though we may not realise it. In this article, we suggest strategies for managing and prioritising your tasks more effectively.

Self-assessment

You need to understand why you procrastinate. Could it be that you're exhausted or afraid of the outcome of what you are about to do? Do you get involved with too many things such that you find it difficult to commit to one? Click To Tweet All of these questions and more need to be answered before you can proceed to dealing with procrastination.

If you find that you have too many things on your plate and can’t seem to figure out where to start, you must find a way to cut down on those things that aren’t so important. This will help you give your time and attention to those that matter. Having so much lined up can sometimes leave one frustrated and without direction.

Goal reassessment

This may sound like the first point but it’s not. You need to be sure you really want to do what you want to do. This conviction is needed to give you that push to work on it. So, assess your goals to ensure each task on your to-do list is something you want to do.

Set simple, achievable goals

One of the reasons we procrastinate is because the tasks at hand seem too complex and tasking. It can be a lot easier to get started on a project if you establish simple, reachable goals rather than an elaborate plan. Click To Tweet

So instead of saying you will build a website, you could break this into easier tasks such as purchasing a website hosting plan, getting a website theme and so on. The idea is to make your long term goal more attainable by breaking it into simple successive short-term goals.

Have a timeline or schedule

Once you have set your goals, create a timeline to complete them. This can be as simple as researching a subject you need to write about on Monday, do the actual writing on Tuesday and edit on Wednesday. You get the gist.

An advantage to doing this is that you don’t get overwhelmed doing just one thing, since you can always have other different tasks scheduled for the same day. By having timelines for your projects, you reduce the boredom that could arise from doing one tedious task.

Work towards a set deadline

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You can do a little extra by aiming to complete an assignment well before the due date. That way, if something unexpected happens (which is usually the case), you will still have some time to complete it. So, set deadlines that are way before the real delivery time of the project.

Rid yourself of all distractions

It’s essential to remove all forms of distraction before you start working so you don’t divert unnecessarily to something else halfway through your task. If you find that you spend too much time on social media in the middle of work, switching off your phone may help you stay focused. Click To Tweet

Distractions from external sources, like children, siblings or noises in the neighbourhood can also make you lose focus, you can try listening to classical music to drown out these distractions. Alternatively, you could change your environment to a place with less distraction.

There is only so much that our brains can handle at a time. Set a timer for a block of focused work to deliberately accomplish more tasks and avoid burning out. If you need to experiment to find what works for you, do it.

Visualise success

One way to motivate yourself to work is to imagine how fulfilled you will feel, or how many opportunities will open up to when you eventually accomplish a task. Click To Tweet So, take some time to think about the ensuing success from completing your tasks and that might just spur you to action. If you find this article helpful, share it with your friends right away using any of the buttons below. There are more people being held back by procrastination than you think.

Remi Collins is a freelance writer and food blogger at www.remrem.com.ng. A graduate of Agriculture from the University of Ibadan, she currently interns with The Plenipotent Company Limited. She also works with Ask the Paediatricians Foundation (askthepaediatricians.com) as an online volunteer.