5 Useful Strategies for Avoiding Procrastination

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Have you filed your taxes yet? If not, there is no time like now to stop procrastinating and take care of this annual task on your check list. You could even have a tax refund waiting for you. Keep in mind: by missing the April 18th tax deadline, you could incur penalties and interest – and that alone should be enough motivation to get moving!

Tax filing isn’t the only part of your life where procrastination can have consequences. In your day-to-day life, procrastination can hamper productivity, increase your levels of stress, and even cause financial damage. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to limit this all-too-common bad habit.

1. Compartmentalize Your Projects Into Smaller Tasks
When you break your project down into smaller tasks, you’re much more likely to get it done on time. Filing your taxes is a great example – you can save your work and pick it up again in a few hours, even on another device. You can compartmentalize almost any task or project, and it is an especially helpful skill when completing something you aren’t particularly looking forward to doing.

2. Do the Hard Stuff First
Often, the most difficult part of tax filing is gathering and assembling all of your documents. Filing is the easy part! Therefore, it doesn’t do much good to start working on your tax return prior to taking this step. When you get the hardest tasks done first, the urge to procrastinate is diminished, because you know that much of the legwork involved with the project is out of the way.

3. Minimize Interruptions
Interruptions can easily derail your attempts to ward off procrastination. If you’re working on an important project, save the social media browsing for later. If you’re trying to accomplish a tedious task, put your phone on silent and place in another room. Your waiting text messages and Facebook updates are a great incentive to efficiently finish the task at-hand.

4. Involve a Friend or Family Member
If you have a friend or relative with a similar task, make it a joint effort! Discuss what each of you is trying to achieve in specific numbers and benchmarks, and compare results as you progress. For example, if your goal is to save more money and your friend has set aside $1,000 while you’ve only saved $100, that’s perfect motivation for you to stop stalling and increase your efforts. In fact, you can throw a Tax Party for your friends who haven’t filed.

5. Envision the Finish Line
When you envision the end result of your hard work, you’re more likely to put in the effort that’s needed to achieve success. This will make your goals feel more realistic, and thereby easier to work toward and attain. For example, write yourself a record of what will happen if you begin to pay down your credit card debt, or how much you’ll save at 5- and 10-year intervals if you start saving for retirement today (use an online calculator to help).

Make sure that you keep mini-deadlines written out and handy, updating your progress as you move forward, and crossing tasks off your list as you complete them. Before you know it, you’ll be living an organized life where you (almost) put nothing off. You’ll sleep better at night, and may find yourself with a fatter wallet at the end of the day.

Have you filed your taxes yet? What additional tips to eliminate procrastination can you suggest?

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