7 tips to avoid procrastination when on a tight deadline

7 tips to avoid procrastination when on a tight deadline

When you have a major project that you need to finish, somehow that also becomes the perfect time to work on almost anything else. You might feel like you’re being productive, but while you’re busy planning out work for a month from now, you’re letting that imminent assignment linger.

Procrastination is an easy trap to fall into. However, with the help of a plan and a well-organized office, you can stay on top of everything and stop stressing out over deadlines.

When you stay organized, you generally tend to be much more sure of what needs to be done. You won’t forget about that small client, or forget to file that report. You’ll always know exactly what your top priorities are.

There are countless ways to keep your workspace organized and stave off procrastination, but it’s important that you find a process that works for you. See which of these seven tips appeal to you.

  1. Write it out

    If you’re a visual learner that likes being able to see the big picture all at once, a magnetic dry erase board could be the first step to solving your procrastination woes. Once a day or once a week, you can update your list of tasks and deadlines, see what’s falling behind, and make sure you’re staying on top of all of it.

    When you use a dry erase board, your tasks become impossible to ignore. Instead of writing out your list on an easily lost scrap of paper, or typing it out on your computer only to accidentally close the window, it’ll be right where you can see it all the time.

    Professional looking woman writing notes and using a tablet
  2. Make small tasks

    How to best use your new dry erase board? There are as many different methods as people, and with all the dry erase board accessories available today, you’re sure to find the perfect method for you.

    You may color-code your tasks, or use magnets to organize notes and other papers that go with each, or divide your board into different sections for things of a different priority level. Try it all out! Once you have your system set up, it’ll keep you on track and hitting every deadline.

  3. Personalize your organization

    If a dry erase board doesn’t sound right for you, that might be because it just doesn’t work with your organizational personality. Many people try to force someone else’s task management system to work for them, and then wonder why they’re constantly struggling.

    If you take the time to think about your own personality and how you naturally approach tasks and deadlines, you’ll have a better chance of developing a system that works better for you.

  4. Get a planner or filing system

    Perhaps a daily organizer or another planner where you can write out your responsibilities on paper might be the best solution for you.

    If your profession includes managing large amounts of papers, you might need to go old-school and develop a filing system. Choose one that allows you to put your hands on anything you need quickly. You may even use that system to organize tasks by deadline instead of resources by subject. Filing cabinets are a great way to keep papers organized.

    Woman writing schedule in a planner.
  5. Do the hard stuff first

    If you struggle with procrastination, getting organized and knowing exactly where your priorities lie might go a long way to helping you make every deadline. Once you know what you need to do, resist the temptation to multitask (it’s always less productive than single-tasking), and make an effort to attack the most difficult tasks first thing in the day.

    This is known as the “eat the frog” method—if you do your most dreaded task (like eating a live frog) first thing in the day, everything later on will feel much, much easier. Instead of trying to avoid that terrible task, just make your coffee or tea, sit down at your desk, and knock it out first thing in the morning. You’ll feel like a rock star—and your boss will love knowing how dependable you are.

  6. Reward yourself

    Many people are motivated by rewards, so see if there’s a simple way you can reward yourself that will keep you on track. Try allowing yourself 15 minutes on social media when you get a task done, or a nice lunch out of the office when you complete a large project (or even just a portion of it). You’ll be excited to reach your reward, and may even feel more energized when it’s time to get back to work.

  7. Go somewhere different

    If you can, try a different environment. As a student, you may have gone to the library when it was time to really get things done. Many technology workers like to leave the office and head to the nearest coffee shop for a change of scenery some days. You can take that same strategy into your work life, especially if you work from a laptop.

    See if you can move into a different part of the office, or even to the office of a colleague who works somewhere else when you really need to hunker down and get work done. If you do this regularly, you’ll train your brain to associate that space with productivity, and remove some of the negative associations you’ve built up in the place you usually work.

Looking for more strategies to help improve your productivity? Café Quill can help! Follow us on social media and don’t forget to comment with some of your best tips for eliminating procrastination from your work day.