Procrastination is often a habitual behavior. It’s the unnecessary, voluntary action of delaying or postponing tasks despite knowing that doing so can lead to negative consequences. 

You are especially likely to have experienced procrastination tendencies while at work. But how do you stop hindering your productivity?

Planning ahead is key

Whether you plan your day first thing in the morning or the evening before, putting thought into your schedule can help you to feel prepared. But organizing one day after another can lead to micromanagement. Planning your weeks or months in advance can be a better way to feel more in control of your life. However you decide to do things, make sure you prioritize tasks in accordance to their importance and urgency. Also, perhaps most importantly, be realistic about how much you can achieve in a given time period – there are few things as demotivating as unachievable goals.

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Explore autosuggestion

Carving out precise goals can help create a sense of accomplishment, along with setting and committing to deadlines. Regularly meeting deadlines demonstrates reliability, and your ability to stay focused. Furthermore, making to-do lists, mind maps and vision boards will help you to track your progress and keep you motivated. Don’t forget to practice positive reinforcement and be proud of your achievements, too. If you have gotten into the habit of demotivating yourself, you can create a counter habit of motivating yourself. What you tell yourself, and whether you praise yourself for having done a good job, can make a huge difference.

Multitasking is the enemy

You can’t always control how busy your workday might turn out to be, but multitasking should only be reserved for temporary stress. From an evolutionary perspective, the human brain is capable of managing more than one task at a time, but only for brief periods. Multitasking was meant to help our ancestors stay hypervigilant while a saber-tooth-tiger was chasing them. But in the modern world where large animals generally do not pose a direct threat to our lives, multitasking only results in elevated cortisol levels, leading to increased stress, short-term memory loss, and inhibited focus and creativity. It’s better to stay focused on a concise list of tasks if you want to stay productive.

Busy doesn’t equal efficient 

If you work non-stop all morning, chances are your efficiency will drop significantly after four to five hours and you will end up feeling drained by the afternoon. Opt for 90-minute work cycles instead, and divide up your work sessions to include 10-15 minute breaks, as they allow you to recharge and feel refreshed. Look for ways to be inventive and solution oriented – there are many tips and tricks to help you work smarter, not harder. For example, do not underestimate your commute and how much time you can save by completing tasks while you travel. Whether you answer emails, make calls, or listen to podcasts and read articles that keep you up to date with your field, make the most out of your trip to work.

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Know your rhythm 

Figure out which tasks are easiest for you to accomplish at specific times of the day. Some people find it easier to answer emails first thing in the morning, while others prefer to go through their inbox after having finished more tedious tasks. 

Track your time in order to discover your personal patterns and efficiency levels and improve your schedule. Monitoring yourself will also allow you to make personal adjustments in real time to make up for lost productivity. In addition, learning your circadian rhythm and chronotype might help you understand your personal needs better. While some people can hit their most creative peak in the morning, your genius might spark late afternoon. 

Breaks should be sacred

There’s no reason not to take breaks, and it helps to be strict about them. Getting away from away from your screen and putting your phone down for a while is especially beneficial for your brain. Be ritualistic about your breaks as well, whether by regularly socializing with colleagues during lunch, taking a nap, or preparing food, focus on the things that help you unwind and turn them into a treat. Having a particularly stressful day?  Go for a walk and join a meeting on your phone if it doesn’t require your physical presence.

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Create an ideal work environment 

Decorate your workspace to create a pleasant environment that keeps you motivated, focused and inspired. Make sure you have all the equipment you need to hand, and keep your desk organized and clean. Abstain from taking breaks at your desk, as it will help you to keep work and leisure apart. Eliminate distractions by putting away your cellphone, using noise-canceling headphones and by avoiding social media while you work.

There’s no reason not to take breaks, and it helps to be strict about them. Getting away from away from your screen and putting your phone down for a while is especially beneficial for your brain. Be ritualistic about your breaks as well, whether by regularly socializing with colleagues during lunch, taking a nap, or preparing food, focus on the things that help you unwind and turn them into a treat. Having a particularly stressful day?  Go for a walk and join a meeting on your phone if it doesn’t require your physical presence.

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