Everybody procrastinates. Students, parents, employees, employers, and every other human can’t help but procrastinate. No matter what you do, it’s close to impossible to get rid of procrastination if you’re not good at time management.
Time management and procrastination are very closely related as one affects the other. Procrastination, in particular, puts all your time management efforts to waste. If you can understand the how and why aspects of this concept, you can fight against procrastination and begin to use your time efficiently.
Effects of Procrastination
Procrastination is what happens when time management strategies are not utilized well. If you’ve been trying to make the most out of your time, you need to get rid of procrastination. Here are 3 ways that delaying tasks without a reason messes up your entire schedule.
This one’s a given. It’s easily understandable that if you keep putting off a task that you’re supposed to get done, you will be wasting a lot of time.
You probably have a schedule for the day. Let’s assume you work for 8 hours every day. Your schedule will include tasks that will require 8 hours of your time. However, somewhere in the middle of the day, you just didn’t want to do one particular task. You kept delaying it.
You end up wasting hours of your time that was meant to be utilized somewhere else. Unfortunately, there’s no way to bring back the time that has gone by. All you can do at the end of the day is to push all the pending tasks to the few remaining hours of the day, which inevitably creates a great deal of pressure and stress.
Stress Leads to Bad Performance
As stated in the previous point, procrastination leads to wasting a great deal of time. When you’re left with all the work and just a few hours to finish it all off, of course you’ll feel pressured and stressed.
The issue here is that even if you get into a boost mode and somehow manage 8 hours worth of work in four hours, you won’t be able to perform well. What does that do? It ruins your reputation at work because what you produce is not your best effort.
Bad performance can lead to further stress. Sometimes, your employer may even ask you to re-do the whole task all over again because it wasn’t satisfactory the first time around. This will add more to your existing to-do list. You’ll have to handle more in the same amount of time.
You’ll end up in a cycle of stress and bad time management just because you were careless a few times.
Extends Your Working Hours
The responsibilities that you delayed are sometimes manageable in a short time-frame, even after procrastination, but more often than not, it’s impossible to cover them within the same working hours.
Let’s take the previous example once again. You procrastinated for four hours. Now you half the time to finish off what you were supposed to do in eight hours. There’s a pretty big chance you’re unable to manage it, so your employer will tell you to stay back and finish the tasks for the day. You spend four extra hours in the office. The personal responsibilities you had to tackle in those four hours have to be rescheduled. You get home late, go to sleep later than usual, have a hard time waking up on time, and end up getting to work late.
Basically, it’s a cycle. Procrastinating once doesn’t have a one-time effect. It keeps getting carried on and makes your life harder. Time management is impossible if you keep procrastinating.
How to Stop Procrastinating and Manage Time Effectively
So, it’s clear by now that time management and procrastination are closely linked and that time management can help you avoid creating new difficulties with procrastination.
These two interdependent concepts require a good deal of work to be useful. Here are some tips on how you can manage time in a way that reduces the chances of procrastination.
1. Have an Effective Schedule
Everyone has a schedule that they follow. Some people have a rough idea of their responsibilities in their heads while others have it jotted down somewhere. If you want to improve your time management and stop procrastinating, you need to start making effective to-do lists.
If you’re a procrastinator, you need a very detailed schedule. Look at it this way: when you have a plan for every minute, you won’t have enough time to think about delaying anything. Every single activity will be calculated and timed.
A great thing you can do while making a detailed schedule like this is to break down your tasks. Instead of allotting one hour to a job, allot 10 minutes to different segments of it. Your mind will also find it easier to tackle small chunks in 10-minute intervals than to go ahead with a big task that will need 60 minutes.
2. Take Enough Breaks
Not allowing breaks to save time is the biggest waste of time. Working non-stop is a huge trigger for procrastination. Give your mind the sense of relief that you’ll have some time off after you finish a few tasks.
If you don’t have short breaks scheduled throughout the day, your brain will know that it has to work continuously. Unconsciously, you’ll want to squeeze some free time in between tasks. This is where you’re likely to start procrastinating.
On the other hand, if you allow yourself 5 minutes off after every 25 minutes, it will keep you motivated to work hard through the 25 minutes to get a break after that. It keeps you from procrastinating and also boosts your motivation.
3. Use the Pomodoro Technique
When you’re struggling to get a hold on time management and procrastination, it won’t be easy to manage it all alone. You should use supporting apps that will help you reach your goals more easily.
The Pomodoro Technique is all about time management and maintaining focus. It is a concept in which a person forces their attention on the task at hand for 25 minutes straight. You can then treat yourself to a 5-minute break or continue working for another 25 minutes. After 2 hours, you get a longer break.
Numerous applications help you implement the Pomodoro Technique. Use them to monitor and divide your time effectively.
You know that you’re likely to procrastinate at some point in the day, but you also know that you’re the most motivated after the lunch break.
Schedule your most important work at the time when you know you’re most likely to be productive. Even if you keep pushing yourself the rest of the day, at least you’ll have the relief of fulfilling the urgent responsibilities on time.
Prioritization may not solve procrastination, but it can help you manage time in a way that, even if you slack a bit, it won’t harm you.
5. Monitor Your Behavior
The best way to stop yourself from procrastinating is to keep an eye on yourself. Track your behavior. Write down where you’re spending all of your time. How much of it was spent on work, and how much did you spend distracted by the bee on your window?
If you’re using an app for time management, you can monitor your activities to some extent. For more efficiency, make a conscious effort to remember where you’ve spent every single minute of the day.
The next step is to eradicate the causes of procrastination and minimize the distractions. If the bee on the window keeps you occupied for a good five minutes, shift your office space. Put your chair in a different spot so that you cannot look out the window. Turn off your phone so you don’t waste time scrolling on social media.
As for the material distractions, you can easily find a way to get rid of them. For mental distractions, you may want to add in a 10-minute meditation session before starting the day. It will help you practice mindfulness throughout the day.
6. Learn to Say No
Start by figuring out what makes you want to procrastinate. Usually, people procrastinate on tasks that they find boring, too hard, ambiguous, or meaningless.
If you doubt you’ll have fun doing a job, or you know you won’t be able to perform well, simply refuse to do it.
However, there are some cases in which you just cannot say no, when you are obliged to fulfill the responsibility regardless of whether or not you’re interested. In those cases, put the other tips to use so that you can get it done without compromising your work duties.
The Bottom Line
Clearly, procrastination is entirely dependent on the absence or presence of good time management strategies. Time management and procrastination are intertwined, but where you find one, you likely won’t find the other.
The above tips will help you find a way out of delaying your work and wasting precious time. Start practically using this advice so that you too can make the most of your life!
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Featured photo credit: Charlz Gutiérrez De Piñeres via unsplash.com