How to Overcome Procrastination Through Preparation

Man planning with sticky notes.
Beat procrastionation by breaking down daunting tasks into small steps. Getty / Bernd Opitz

Procrastination means putting off tasks until the last possible minute. People with social anxiety may procrastinate because they don't want to make a phone call, want to avoid a social interaction, or because they feel their work or performance must be "perfect." Reducing procrastination is easier if you are committed to solving your procrastination problem.

If you find yourself procrastinating about doing something, in particular, the following steps may help to break you out of that pattern.

1. Understand the task in full. Ask yourself, what does it take to complete the task? Write down or list all of the steps required to complete the task. For example, if you need to make a phone call, those steps might include finding the phone number, planning what you will say, and choosing a good time to call.

2. Break down the task into smaller tasks. Smaller tasks should be detailed, easily measured, easily achieved, and easy to understand. If you have a speech to give in 3 weeks, it means that you have 21 days to prepare.

Designate a certain block of time for each of the 21 days, with break days if needed, and do smaller tasks each day that you want to work. You will be surprised at what you can accomplish in 30 minutes each day versus a full 24 hours on the last day.

To complete your speech, break it down into phases of research, writing, practicing, and revising. Within each of these phases are individual tasks that you can complete.

If you know that you need five examples for your speech, then devote one day to reading up on possible stories to include, and another day to writing the words to your speech that cover those examples.

Remember not to overwhelm yourself while completing small tasks so that you do not continue to procrastinate. If you put off today's smaller task, tomorrow you will have two tasks to complete. A snowball effect may ensue, and your efforts to overcome procrastination will be futile.

The quality of your work could even increase if you break down a task and do some preparation. Assign at least 30 minutes to the preparation phase. Depending on the task, 30 minutes a day may be all you need. More complex tasks may require additional time.

If it is a task for work, then decide what percentage of your work day should be designated to this task. Your work day may only allow 10% for special tasks, but 10% of an 8-hour work day is 48 minutes. Think of all that you can accomplish towards your goal in 48 minutes!

During this preparation time, be sure to gain a full understanding of the task required of you. If you do not understand the finished product that is required, you will have a tough time creating small tasks to complete.

Remember to always add a day or two for review and proofing.

Once the preparation phase is complete, create a calendar and assign yourself the small tasks. Create reminders on your mobile device or calendar that you utilize on a daily basis.

You will feel great when you mark the task for the day complete!

Planning is key. If you plan a task by creating smaller tasks and completing them on a timeline, you will reduce procrastination. For those with social anxiety, getting a handle on procrastination can mean greater confidence and less time spent needlessly worrying about missed deadlines.

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