5 easy ways to beat procrastination

Do you find the closer the deadline, the more you try to avoid facing reality? Then read this.

Procrastination

Twenty Pixel's web comic nails the problem - read the full strip here: http://bit.ly/1klzewN

We've all been there - you've got a deadline to hit but for love nor money, you can't seem to get your head down and crack on with the job.

You may have got away with it in the past, but one day this kind of procrastination could end up losing you a client or worse.

So to make sure it doesn't happen again, we've pulled together five top tips to help keep you focused and get the job done.

01. Remove all distractions

In the fast-paced workplace of constant communication, one of the toughest challenges is to set aside time to focus on that one project, and that one project only.

Don't get distracted by an ever-increasing inbox or 'urgent' messages from clients demanding instant attention. Instead, set specific times to check email (say twice a day, perhaps), making sure you let clients know that you're on deadline and to call if anything needs genuinely urgent attention.

The same goes for your social channels: log out of Twitter and Facebook, get your head down, and get on with some work.

For more detailed advice, read The designer's guide to avoiding distractions and How to free yourself from your smartphone.

02. Set goals

Procrastination

Hitting that deadline in 24 hours can sometimes feel almost as unattainable as moving mountains. But don't get overwhelmed. Set yourself goals (whether that's hourly or throughout the project) so that you can track your progress.

The sense of achievement when you reach goal one is only going to spur you on to complete goal two, three and four. There's also lots of free online tools and apps to help you keep track of your time, such as Remember The Milk and Todoist.

03. Create 'fake deadlines'

Are you one of those types who thrive under pressure and always leave working to the last minute? Can you only ever finish a project by sweating over a computer screen into the early hours of the morning, fuelled by nothing other than strong coffee?

It might sound far-fetched, but for some people this really does work: create a 'fake deadline'.

In other words, get ahead of yourself by setting deadline reminders in your calendar a week early. The earlier in the project you do this, the more likely you are to fool yourself and get the job done in time. (And, of course, there's always that week leeway, just in case you don't.)

04. Get a change of scenery

Procrastination

We often switch off and fail to engage with work when we're a little too bored with our workspace. So although getting up and changing your scenery is often just be another form of procrastination, is can sometimes be a great way to focus.

Go visit that coffee shop where the cakes always look so delicious, or try working in a public space, such as a local library - where there are no work colleagues to distract you. For more ideas of places to help you focus, read The best places to do freelance design work.

05. Get a motivation mentor

Not everyone in life is great at managing their own time and sometimes, as much as we'd hate to admit it, having someone give us a shove up the backside is exactly what we need.

Be honest with your boss and ask for a few gentle reminders now and again to make sure you're not dawdling. And if you're your own boss, get a friend or another freelancer to check on your progress so you don't fall back into your usual bad habits.

Words: Natalie Brandweiner

Natalie Brandweiner has a background in journalism. After writing about social media marketing for two and a half years in her previous role, she decided to practice what she’d preached and joined the wonderful world of social media management for ThirtyThree.