Everyone battles varying degrees of procrastination. Some people will even avoid difficult tasks by deliberately looking for increasingly available distractions. Procrastination, in large part, reflects our perennial struggle with self-control as well as our inability to accurately predict how we’ll feel in the future. We sometimes rationalize our procrastination by convincing ourselves that we perform better under pressure, but that’s not always true in reality. The bright side is, however, that by taking the proper steps we can remove procrastination from our lives once and for all.
For me, technology offers constant distractions. Text messages, emails, and advertisements constantly seem to bid for my attention. If you’re like me, you fall prey to these distractions, as well. The steps I took to help me overcome my issues with procrastination are listed below in hopes they can start helping you too!
1. Exercise Every Day
Exercise always seems to help my physical and mental health—it can also seem to fuel my attention span. A walk during a lunch break could help you concentrate when you return to work. Regular exercise also provides long-term benefits to your attention span.
2. Set a Break Time Reminder
Trying to focus on a task for hours on end will wreak havoc on your attention span. The more you sit and try to make yourself pay attention, the less attentive you may become. In an effort to meet a deadline, many people avoid taking breaks. But taking short breaks may be the secret to getting your work done in less time. Setting a reminder to take a break every 50 minutes can help you return to your task with improved attention.
3. Turn Off the Obvious Distractions
Every interruption, whether it’s a phone call, a question from a co-worker, or an email, disrupts your concentration and impairs your performance. Even a disruption as short as 2.8 seconds doubles your chances of making an error, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. Interruptions lead to poor quality and can cause you to take longer to finish the task. If you really want to improve your attention, limit as many distractions as possible. Turn off your smartphone and email, then watch your productivity improve!
4. Drink Black Tea
Although most people reach for another cup of coffee to get through an afternoon slump, black tea may be a better choice. I read in a report that theanine—an amino acid exclusive to tea— can help provide laser-light focus. Theanine, which increases calmness and relaxation, interacts with caffeine to synchronize the brain activity related to attention processing. Additionally, tea provides more consistent alertness throughout the day compared to coffee, even when matched for caffeine content.
I have just recently started to set aside a certain part of the day for simple meditation. Among the many benefits of meditation is an improved attention span. Research conducted on Buddhist monks who have spent years training in meditation show they enjoy a much longer attention span than most people. But the good news is, you don’t have to study meditation for years to reap the benefits.
6. Enjoy the Outdoors
Spending time in nature could greatly reduce your mental fatigue and restore your attention span. Nature has such a powerful impact on attention that “green time” has become a recommended treatment for children with ADHD.
7. Tackle the Task Head-On
If you know you have a project that has a deadline, don’t wait to the last minute to start it! Sounds simple, but I am just now finishing a blog that was due today at 5:30 pm! I knew this blog had a deadline, but kept putting it off until I thought I would have time to sit and finish it. What I should have done—as soon as I found out I would be responsible for this—was to start it that day. But as I continue to learn and grow in this area, I’ll make sure that’s what I do next time.
I hope that by reviling some of my weakness and hardship with some simple approach, it will help someone else that finds themselves in the same boat.