5 Ways to Conquer Procrastination and Finish Every Project
When it comes to household projects, everyone faces the same challenge at some point or another. You get this big idea to renovate the living room, replant some flowers or sort through your closet for the first time in years, and you get excited. Making plans can feel great, and having a project to accomplish can give you a refreshing sense of purpose, especially if you’re used to being stuck in the same routine.
But then life happens. You have to spend more money than you plan on bills, or you get sick and can’t start your project right away. You lose steam. It happens to everyone, and it leads to procrastination. Once you start reconsidering other things you could do with your time before actually getting to your project, it’s difficult to shake yourself out of it and get motivated again.
“The next one will be different,” you’ve probably promised yourself, only to have the same thing happen with every project you decide to take on. Some abandoned projects may still interest you, but you’re just not sure you can finish them. Where do you begin? First, you need to understand some background information on how your mind works.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
Let’s start by busting the myth that only lazy people procrastinate. The psychological science behind procrastination proves it’s a common struggle for everyone — though there are people who may be more prone to procrastinate. The problem becomes the most challenging when you fall out of love with the idea of your project. Has that happened for you yet?
Often, when we decide to start a project, we don’t realize how much work or money will go into it. This can disenchant us from the idea as a whole and break down our self-control, making it easier to do something else instead of focusing on the task at hand. This knowledge should lead you to your next step in your journey to understanding how to overcome your procrastination.
Watch Your Habits
To know when procrastination has seriously prevented you from stopping a project and make sure it doesn’t happen again, you have to be aware of your habits. For example, imagine you’re beginning a top-to-bottom cleanout of your fridge — but you get distracted by social media for a few minutes. That might not mean you’ve left the project behind completely. See if you do any other common procrastinating techniques that leave projects in the dust:
- Suddenly become convinced that it’s time to hand-wash all your glassware
- Get energized to sort and catalog every family photo in the house
- Develop a super-charged sense of focus to sort the thousands of emails in your inbox
You might not do these specific things, but you get the idea. If you’re just starting a project and become fixated on the idea of doing something else that doesn’t necessarily have to be done at that exact same moment, you should tell yourself to wait on it so you can get back to your project. But how can you get that motivation back? There are a couple of things you can try.
Do More Research
If the project you have in mind is more complicated than something like putting spackle in some holes in your wall, you might struggle with procrastination because you just don’t know what to do next. Say you want to build a bookshelf. You’ve already envisioned how it will look, and you’re going to love how it adds to the interior design of your office. However, once you start building, you might not know which screw goes where or what piece fits in what slot. Your brain will decide you’re done, because it won’t know what to do next.
Instead of falling into this trap with what you’re planning on doing next, research everything you can about your project before you start it. How will it improve your life? What’s the history behind it? What are some struggles other people have had while trying to do the same thing? You’ll find yourself more prepared and willing to breeze through the final step.
Create a Project Schedule
Without a set schedule or well-defined goals, your project might as well have never started. This is the same no matter if your project is something physical — like building or cleaning — or virtual — like creating a website. In fact, 30 percent of IT projects never get finished, so don’t feel alone when you find yourself a victim of procrastination once again.
A good way around this is to make a schedule for what you want to do. Break up the project into smaller tasks — this will keep you from getting overwhelmed and give you breathing room while you work. If you have to, write your daily project plan out on a calendar or a piece of paper where it can motivate you. Checking off your accomplishments will only encourage you to get the whole thing done.
Define Your Motivations
Sometimes you have to narrow down a list of what motivates you to feel good enough to keep moving forward. This can be challenging when all you see ahead is a project that’s much bigger than what you first envisioned. Instead, find motivation in the small things. Consider everything a win, from starting the project to taking a single step and then needing a break. By being your own cheerleader, you’ll never find a reason to walk away from your goals.
Starting a new project can be exhilarating! Especially if the last one you set out to finish actually went well and made you feel like you were on top of the world. Not every project is that easy, though. And if you find yourself struggling to continue something you’ve started, you’re not alone. Don’t beat yourself up over something that’s been stalled for weeks, months or even years. You’ve already made the move to find a solution by looking up what you can do to help yourself, and that’s a crucial first step to take.