Know How Long It Will Take
One of the major reasons that people procrastinate on tasks is because they overestimate how long a task will take. The project seems so much larger and so much more difficult than it actually is. One ends up dreading the task, and procrastinating in the vain hope that putting it off will somehow mean the task doesn't have to be done at all.
An easy way to conquer this obstacle is to time how long it takes to do the task just once. This will give an accurate impression of the difficulty of the task, which can improve motivation in the future.
Forget Your Troubles and Get Happy
Psychologists have identified a concept known as "creative flow", which is a name for a mental state in which one is in a positive mood and highly productive. Research at Ohio State University shows that people who have a positive mood are 10% more productive than those with a negative mood. Being in a good mood when tackling projects is thought to increase motivation and enjoyment of the task, thereby improving productivity.
One Big Task? Or Several Small Tasks?
Large tasks can seem daunting and insurmountable at first. The expression "biting off more than you can chew" may come to mind. When a task appears to be too challenging, it results in decreased motivation. A great way to avoid this problem is to break large projects into a series of small jobs. Need to write a 20-page business report? Break it into segments - introduction, first main point, second main point, third main point, charts and figures and then the conclusion. The academic essay format loved by high school teachers also works in business reports. The process can be broken down as well: research, outline, first draft, editing and the final draft. Tackle one step at a time and the project won't seem quite so large.
Start At The End And Work Backward
A deadline can be a powerful motivator. Tasks that have deadlines are easy to organize. After breaking the task down into parts and after learning how long each part will take, set a deadline for each individual part of the task. This will keep things on track throughout the task completion process.
Use A Reward System
This may be the most powerful tool of all. Studies on behavioral conditioning psychology show that using a system of rewards and punishments can be very effective in discouraging procrastination. Have you finished a big report? Reward yourself with an episode of your favorite television show. Did you miss a deadline? Force yourself to eat a food that you hate. After just a few rewards and punishments, you'll be motivated to finish all of your work on time.
Procrastination can be a major problem for any profession. However, by following these simple steps, you'll be working productively, and enjoying it, in no time.