We've all been there. We have a to-do list longer than the space allocated to it, but suddenly we feel the urge to empty and defrost the freezer. Back in my university days I would always laugh about how clean my house was whenever I had essays due in.
So, why do we procrastinate, even when the tasks we need to do are beneficial to us? Procrastination can often raise its ugly head when we have too many things to do, or too many decisions to make. We find it hard to know where to start, when it feels like all of the tasks are equally as important as each other. It can also be caused by the internal voice we allow to play in our minds. If your mental tapes only play messages such as 'It is too hard'', ''I have too much on'', ''I can't do it all''.....well that is what your subconscious may well believe as fact. It isn't clever enough on its own to tell the difference!
What can we do about it?
* Have to-do lists that only contain actionable items. For example, if you need to ''improve website'', there is no surprise that this haunts you on your to-do list and hangs over you, never feeling finished. Break that project into actionable parts. What do you mean, or what to you need to actually do to move forward? When you have smaller actions to-do, it feels easier to find the next step.
* Sometimes you are simply in the wrong frame of mind for some tasks. Find some tasks that you could get done instead (although not the cleaning when an essay is due!). Your alternative task should still be advancing you towards the main end goal!
* Reward yourself and set mini targets. I may bargain with myself that I will get something done, and then get a nice coffee at the end of it.
* Learn your working patterns. Some people prefer to get the more challenging tasks done first, so that your day only gets easier as you go along. Some people prefer to get the tougher tasks done at night. Try and work with when you are most switched on.
* Set realistic goals, and take a moment to reflect on what you have achieved. If you break your projects into actionable to-do lists you should be able to make more realistic predictions about how long something will take you to do. If you expect too much, you will always feel like you are failing, and that won't get you anywhere! If you like to tick things off, allow yourself that little pleasure (and yes if you want to write things up and tick them off straight away, go ahead!)
Do you have any tips that work for you?