Everyone is told time and time again that stress is bad for you. Unchecked stress can lead to many physical health issues. The month of April is dedicated to stress awareness. How are you handling your stress these days?
We all know that stress can cause issues like high blood pressure, obesity, and even heart disease. While unchecked stress has many adverse physical health conditions, stress leads to many mental health issues.
These mental problems include depression, panic attacks, and anxiety. The psychological and physical issues all stem from prolonged amounts of stress on the body. Further, these conditions can worsen over time as tension and stress are left untreated and ignored. Therefore, with the possibility of these issues, it is essential that we find ways to resolve stress.
One of the best ways to reduce stress is to reduce procrastination. Procrastination is the process of worrying and delaying what needs to be done. The constant effects of procrastination can build up high amounts of stress and anxiety. This article will discuss some easy and actionable ways to reduce stress by reducing procrastination in your life.
Create a Daily Task List
Before you start your day, sit down and write the tasks that need to be done. When we take a step back and organize our thoughts, we make a better plan of action to get things done. Create a schedule for your tasks. For example, you could set up time blocks to focus on each task.
Scheduling time for each task throughout the day will help structure a plan of action. Put the most essential and draining tasks first on your list. For example, you may put thought-intensive tasks like writing and emailing ahead of a meeting with a coworker. Getting these tasks done earlier in the day will not only make you feel accomplished but also makes the rest of the day easier.
Make the task list as simple as possible, while still being specific. For example, you might say “read 30 pages” instead of “read the book.” Being specific will help keep you on track and know precisely what you need to do. The list should not have more than ten items on it at one time, but if it does, you may be using the task list as a tool for avoiding work rather than getting organized.
Set Aside Time to Take a Breather
Set aside time to take a deep breath and relax on your Calendar or schedule. For example, you could plan a quiet, relaxing walk after finishing an intensive task. The breaks can help reset your mind and re-energize yourself for the next task at hand.
While taking a break, try to remove work-related thought distractions. This time should be a way for you to relax and escape work entirely, not sit and think about all your to-dos. Also, avoid using social media and other online distractions. For starters: Scrolling through news apps and refreshing your social media feed during your designated break time will not be relaxing, especially if negative news shows up.
Lastly, use breathing techniques. Try taking a deep breath in for ten seconds, holding it for a few seconds, then slowly letting it out for another ten seconds. Practicing breathing techniques effectively can help slow down our intrusive thoughts. Your clearer mind will allow you to come back to work full of energy and focus.
Remind Yourself of the Consequences
Make a note of the consequences of not completing a task. Understanding the consequences of not getting something done can help you understand why it was necessary in the first place, in addition to serving as a motivator to complete it. For example, if you’re a student, you might make a list of consequences for not studying for a big exam. The list could include repercussions, such as failing the class or not learning the material.
Or, if you do not want to go as far as making a physical or digital list, make it a habit to remind yourself mentally. For example, if you were finding yourself struggling to start a project, you could ask yourself, “what would happen if I did not start the project.” Having that consistent mental reminder of why the task is necessary can make it much easier to get started.
Set Reasonable Goals and Deadlines
Create reasonable goals and deadlines for your work. Setting up a marker to aim towards helps us realize the bigger picture of each individual task. It also prevents us from continually moving something off into the near future. When a hard deadline is set, you are set on finishing the project on time.
Make your goals SMART:
- S – Specific
- M – Measurable
- A – Attainable
- R – Realistic
- T – Timely
The SMART acronym helps you identify all components of a great goal. For example, the goal “read a book” could be developed into “read 25 pages of Harry Potter: Death Hallows by Wednesday night.” As a result, the goal becomes much more attainable. In addition, thinking about the acronym can help you find the weak points of your goals.
Making your goals more exciting can also reduce the probability of you avoiding what needs to be done through poor goal setting. Take this a step further by making the goals visible throughout the day, like perhaps adding your goals to your weekly Calendar. Crossing off completed goals helps you achieve a sense of accomplishment. A visible goal list will not only motivate you but will also make accomplishments a habit.
Eliminate Potential Distractions
Scan your work desk for things like a clock, extra desk clutter, fidget items, and anything that can potentially distract you. For example, for some people, a clock on the wall might tempt them to continuously check the time — for others, a clock on the wall saves time and motivates them. Figure out and know which person you are. Desk clutter might tempt you to organize. Clearing your desk of anything that is not necessary to have to accomplish your daily tasks will help you be more productive.
As with clocks and desk clutter, fidget items like writing utensils, Pop-Its, desk decor, and more – are also a distraction, even though they are valuable items. Do yourself a favor while trying to hone in on a specific task and get rid of the distraction. Removing them from your view is a great way to set yourself up for improved focus and success.
Take positive, consistent actions to start reducing stress by reducing procrastination in your life. This article discussed several actions you can take to begin this process. You can get more organized by approaching tasks with a daily task list. While striving to work hard, you should also remember to set aside time for mental breaks to energize yourself.
Tasks are there for a reason. Evaluating the root reason you are doing a task in the first place can help motivate you to be more productive. Try to view your goals as assistants who are helping you create benchmarks for success. Just be sure that the goals are set properly to be helpful in the long run.
Additionally, clearing your workplace clutter will help you eliminate the sources of procrastination from their roots. By implementing some of these lessons in your own life, you can be more productive as stress and procrastination start to fade away.
Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!