Procrastination is one of the biggest symptoms I deal with, it creates so many problems from not doing the dishes, missing appointments, or not finishing that big deadline until the night before. It creates undue stress and anxiety, which then makes the procrastination worse as it becomes a bigger and scarier problem in your mind. I have five tips that I use myself to help beat procrastination.
1. Say it out loud
You might feel stupid, but saying what you need to do out loud can help push yourself to do that thing. Do the dishes need doing? Say to yourself, out loud, ‘I’m going to get up and do the dishes’ and you’ll find yourself getting up to go do them. By speaking and not thinking it’s now a set task, and you’d feel a little silly saying it out loud and not acting on it. It can work for the smallest to the biggest tasks, just try it!
2. Just 5 minutes
We often procrastinate on the biggest tasks because we just don’t know where to start, or we get overwhelmed with the amount we have to do. Try setting a timer for five minutes to work on any part of the task, it doesn’t matter what, just five minutes is all you need. By working for just five minutes helps the task seem less big, but the majority of the time after the 5 minute timer has finished you find you can just carry on with what you’ve started.
3. Break it down
If you find you keep putting off a large task, such as an essay to write for school or uni, try break it down in to smaller tasks, and then ignore the rest. If possible, break it down in to the smallest tasks or problems, as these will then become much easier to tackle. Here’s an example for breaking down house work. I find writing by hand on paper much easier to figure out my thoughts than on my phone or computer!
‘Clean Kitchen’ sounds daunting, and there’s no place to start. Try:
- Fill sink up
- Put dirty dishes in sink to soak
- Remove rubbish from counters
- Wipe counters down
- Clean dishes and leave to dry
- Sweep/hoover floor
- Put dishes away
While the list now feels ‘bigger’ in a sense, you can now see what tasks need doing, but they don’t all need to be done in the same session. If you need a break, or only have five minutes, just choose a task (hint: if you struggle with choosing, either flip a coin or sing Eeny Meeny Miny Mo to choose!)
4. Get a procrastination buddy
Sometimes it’s much easier to tackle a task if you have someone with you, even if they’re not going to do the task. I found that having someone just sit near me when I did my work at uni I was more productive, even though they might not be doing the task as me as it got me in the working mood. It can also be helpful to get someones help when cleaning the house, or get someone to keep you accountable, rather than holding yourself accountable.
If your friend or family member doesn’t mind, talk them through the task your doing, this can help figure out what you need to do as you’re explaining it to someone else (even if it doesn’t make any sense to them!)
5. Delete social media off your phone
Social media and the like are like black holes for everyone, and more so for those with ADHD. It’s so easy to open up them up and just get consumed by them for an entire day. Deleting social media off your phone can be incredibly helpful if you have a really big task that needs your sole focus.
I deleted Facebook, Reddit, and Youtube off my phone when completing my dissertation for uni and it worked wonders. If I went to open them my phone, I was reminded that they were gone when a random app opened up instead. Soon you’ll stop automatically fetching for your phone every time you need to distract yourself, and sometimes I would do that when I needed a break. So when I found I was trying to open them more and more I took a ten minute break to get some water and just sit outside for a bit.
I hope these tips can help you with the devil that is procrastination, it’s vicious cycle that can be hard to break. If you have any tips for beating procrastination let me know in the comments as I’d love to hear them!