We all have a to-do list with great ideas. These bucket lists usually comprise tasks that bring value in the future, such as learning a new skill, starting a side hustle or losing weight. Sometimes, we lack the motivation to take action, so we tend to postpone these great habits. This is also known as procrastination. It’s important to understand why we put off important tasks to overcome procrastination. 

Everyone puts off work sometime in life. I have done it, and you too. Sometimes, we post phone works with valid reasons and sometimes without. For example, if there is an overlapping of meetings or you need more time, it is reasonable to adjust your to-do list.

However, procrastination will be a problem when it affects your progress, relationships, or work getting delayed.

Reason for procrastination

Behavioural psychologists have shown that our future self formulates the goals in the to-do list. So when achieved, our future lives have a more extraordinary value.

However, the present self needs to take action to reap the benefits for your future self.

But according to science, your present self and the brain are more likely to opt for instant fulfilment, not the long-term payoff. This is why we are fond of scrolling down our FB profiles or clicking on YouTube videos, ignoring the valuable tasks in our hands. Read more about the reason for procrastination here.

Other reasons highlighted for the procrastination are,

  • We fail to prioritise the tasks and plan them properly.
  • Some people wait for the last-minute adrenaline rush and complete the work at the end.
  • Some people are avoiders and have inner turmoil, fear of failure, and even fear of success.
  • Many cannot make a decision. Not being able to decide stops them from taking the first step and makes them procrastinate on their responsibilities.

How to beat the procrastination

One of the great sayings of Mark Twain is that.

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, It is best to eat the bigger one first.”

Here, the frog means the tasks on the to-do list. Eating refers to the accomplishment of the jobs or just doing the work. Otherwise, the frog will eat your day, resulting in procrastination. The bigger frog is the most challenging task.

What can we do to eliminate procrastination and improve our lives?

1. Lists all tasks and prioritises them

The first thing you should be doing is preparing your to-do list with a futuristic mind. You must focus on your future self and improve once the tasks are achieved.

Once you have the to-do list, your next move is to execute these tasks meaningfully and effectively.

Here is how to do it,

  1. Every night, spend 10 minutes preparing a plan for the next day. Select only six important tasks.
  2. Prioritise them according to their importance.
  3. On the following day, attend the task one and finish it. Then, focus on the next task.
  4. Similarly, attend to all the tasks. If there are unfinished tasks, add them to the next day’s list.
  5. Follow this pattern every working day.

2. Prioritising the tasks helps to overcome procrastination

The task needs to be prioritised to gain the maximum benefits. Using the Eisenhower Box is a great way to prioritise and be more productive at work. We can also use it to devise a plan for doing them.

According to Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th president of the USA, all tasks are of two types: urgent ones and important tasks. Based on this concept, tasks and actions can be grouped into four categories,

  1. Urgent and important urgent tasks (need to do by yourself)
  2. Important but not urgent tasks (tasks that will be added to-do list to do later)
  3. Urgent but not important tasks (delegate to someone else to do)
  4. Neither urgent nor important (these tasks can be deleted)

This concept can be applied to create a valuable work plan for yourself.

3. Select the most crucial task first

When you have two or more “urgent and important tasks,” you must select the most significant and challenging task.

Remember, “ If you have two frogs, eating the bigger one first is best.”

You can attend to difficult, complex, challenging work in the morning because your brain is fresh. Once the difficult task is done, you are in a better position, and it is easy to attend to the other tasks during the day.

4. Making your tasks more achievable helps to overcome procrastination 

Delaying work is centred around the initiation of the task. Unfortunately, starting a task seems to be more difficult for us. However, once initiated, it is less painful to continue.

One way to do this is to reduce the size of the task. Smaller tasks are easy to initiate and less likely to procrastinate.

As an example, if we break down writing this article into smaller tasks, it will look like this,

  • Brainstorm about the topic
  • Do a background research
  • Prepare the draft
  • Review the draft and finalise the article
  • Add images to the article
  • Finally, publish the article

If procrastination is a big headache, you can revisit your bucket list and try to break it into smaller chunks. You will have better results.

Making your tasks more achievable is vital because,

  1. Smaller steps help to keep the momentum over the longer run
  2. When you complete a task, you feel more accomplished and productive.

Having a routine helps to overcome procrastination

You need to develop a routine to do your work daily or weekly to avoid procrastination. For example, if you are a morning person and comfortable doing most of your morning work, you need to build around that.

Then, plan your work methodology as discussed in this article and do it continuously for a considerable period to see what positive changes it brings to your life.

The Bottom Line

Procrastination is common, and all people have experienced it in their lives. The delaying work steals your future for instant fulfilment of your present self.

Collecting your tasks in a to-do list, prioritising them and selecting them carefully for execution helps to overcome procrastination.

Stop Delaying: Science-Based Strategies to Overcome Procrastination