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Are you twiddling your thumbs wondering how to stop procrastinating?
Very Well Mind defines procrastination as the act of delaying or putting off tasks until the last minute, or past their deadline.
If you find yourself staring at the four walls, spending hours on social media, skydiving, or doing just about anything to avoid certain tasks. Such as your homework, chores, or work assignments. Then I hate to break it to you, but you have been procrastinating.
Don’t worry, you are not alone. According to Psychology Today – about 20 percent of adults (and perhaps 70 to 90 percent of undergraduates) are chronic procrastinators.
Yes, you can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you are NOT the only person in the world to procrastinate.
Although it is great to know that you are not the only one who avoids those dreaded mundane tasks. Why procrastinate even further and continue to be another statistic?
With my 13 strategies, you can say goodbye to procrastination and give productivity a high-five!
1. Identify the reason/s
Have a think about the times when you are procrastinating.
Are you procrastinating because you feel uninspired to complete work assignments or homework? Or perhaps you procrastinate when it comes to exercising or eating healthier.
If you don’t know when you procrastinate, keep a record of the tasks you need to complete throughout the week. At the end of the week, see what tasks remain outstanding. This will help you to identify when you are procrastinating.
Once you are aware of when you procrastinate it’s time to figure out why you procrastinate.
Some common reasons for procrastination are;
- Feeling overwhelmed by how big a task is
- Not knowing how to get started
- Feeling as though everything needs to be perfect
- Not feeling good enough to complete the task
- Feeling apprehensive about success or failure
Decide which reason/s you identify with. You may come up with different reasons depending on the task. Having an idea as to why you procrastinate will allow you to drive procrastination to a halt.
Check out Procraster – an app that allows you to select a procrastination mindset you feel matches your own. The app then provides advice on how you can stop procrastinating.
2. Start your day the right way
Did you know that by procrastinating in the mornings you could be setting yourself up for a day full of procrastination?
The way we feel about ourselves on the inside has a lot to do with how we behave outwardly. Feeling positive about yourself and what you can achieve will most likely set you up for a day brimming with productivity.
Developing a morning routine that works well for you will allow you to feel more motivated throughout your day. Your morning routine should always be one that kickstarts your day in a positive way.
My morning routine usually consists of some or all of the following: going for a run or doing some type of sport, eating a healthy breakfast, meditating, listening to motivational content.
However, if for any reason it isn’t possible for me to do all of these things, I improvise by grouping some of these tasks together to make more room in my day. For example, I might go for a run or eat a healthy breakfast whilst listening to motivational podcasts. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!
Your morning routine doesn’t have to be long or complex. As long as you are doing something that makes you feel positive and motivated every morning. Once you come up with your own morning routine see what tasks you can group together.
3. Keep your space clean and tidy
Having untidy surroundings will drive you into procrastination mode even on the best of days!
It’s essential that you keep your surroundings clean and tidy so that you can feel good about yourself and the work you produce. This includes your workspace, bedroom, and the places where you spend the most time.
4. Re-adjust your social circle (if necessary)
You are the company you keep. If you associate with procrastinators, then you are more likely to procrastinate. Instead, surround yourself with go-getters.
You can also join motivational groups online or in your local area where you can help, support, and inspire each other. You can find some of these groups at – www.meetup.com.
5. Limit your distractions
It may not be possible to get rid of all distractions. But what you can do is limit the distractions that cause you to procrastinate. For example, you could switch off your phone or restrict access to social media whilst you work on your task.
Check out FocusMe – a website blocker and focus app that can help you gain control over distractions and live a more productive lifestyle!
6. Write down your long-term goals
Have a think about what you want your future to look like and write down your long-term goals. Think about all aspects of your life such as career, social, and personal.
You may already have goals in mind. However, if you have been procrastinating for some time you may find that these goals are no longer relevant.
Writing down your long-term goals will help you to be more successful. This is because you will have set goals that you can actively work towards.
7. Write down your short term goals
Start breaking down any long term goals into short term goals. For example, if your long term goal is to start a business then one of your short term goals may be to – do research. Write down your yearly, monthly and weekly goals, and schedule them into your week.
Keep a separate to-do list for any general tasks you need to complete. Such as booking a dentist appointment, doing the shopping etc. Don’t forget to organise your to-do list into sections such as house, work, etc.
I always pick a few things from my goals and my to-do list and schedule them into my week – starting with the most urgent ones.
8. Focus on one task at a time
You may think that by focussing on more than one task you will be able to achieve more. Not necessarily. Focusing on too much at one time can leave you feeling overwhelmed, tired, and may demotivate you. However, there is an exception to this rule. Combining low concentration tasks such as exercise and listening to an audiobook will allow you to save time in your day.
9. Start Slowly
Once you have your goals and to-do list jotted down the part where you get started on these tasks may seem overwhelming, especially if you don’t have any idea on how to get started.
When I wrote my second book, Making Money Online, I set myself a target of 4 hours each day.
As much as I enjoyed writing my book, knowing that I had to complete 4 hours of writing everyday as well as my other daily tasks sometimes overwhelmed me.
So, what did I do?
I set a timer for 30 minutes, took a break for 2-3 minutes and then started the process again. During my 2–3 minute break, I allowed myself time to check my phone, surf the internet or check social media. So, in theory, I didn’t completely cut out procrastinating straight away I just minimised it.
This strategy worked well for me because I didn’t have to think about all the hours I had to spend working. Instead, I told myself I only had to do 30 minutes before I’d have a break. I also found that once I got started my 2-3 minute breaks decreased and I could go for hours without needing a break.
If you don’t feel like you can manage half an hour you can start off by doing 5 to 10 minutes each day towards your task and then gradually increase the time. The key is to get started!
10. Distract yourself
Whenever I have a task that doesn’t require much focus and one that I find a bit tedious such as cleaning. I always like to have a good film or series on in the background. This automatically makes the task more enjoyable, and before I know it, I have a sparkling house in no time.
It doesn’t have to be TV, as long as it’s something that will help distract you from thinking too much about performing the task. Another example is running whilst listening to music. You may not enjoy your daily running task but the music helps to distract and motivate you.
This strategy works well as long as it is not a task that requires a lot of focus and concentration.
11. Give yourself a consequence
What will happen if you don’t complete the task on time?
Depending on what type of task it is, not completing the task may have its own consequence. But also have a think of a consequence you can give to yourself.
For example, I always give myself a set number of hours every day to work on my tasks. If I don’t do my set number of hours, then I have to catch up. This motivates me to complete my tasks on time because I don’t want to have to play catch up when I could be having fun!
12. Reward yourself for long term goals
With short term goals, we get instant satisfaction once the task has been completed.
But with long term goals, the reward may not come straight away. Therefore, it is important to reward yourself when you achieve something towards one of your long-term goals. This will help keep you motivated.
13. Leave time for procrastination
Okay, this strategy might sound bizarre given that this article is all about stopping procrastination.
But what you must remember is that procrastination is a habit and habits take time to break. Allow yourself a short time to procrastinate each day if you need to.
Having time set aside for the things you enjoy throughout your day will make you feel less deprived and more willing to complete your other tasks.
As I mentioned in the 9th strategy. I allowed myself time to procrastinate for 2-3 minutes and then carried on with my task for a further 30 minutes. This made me feel less deprived until I no longer needed to use this technique.
Whether you are feeling apprehensive about success or failure, feel the need to be perfect, feel overwhelmed or just don’t know how to get started. The key to avoiding procrastination is to plan, stay organised and make a start.
Implementing the strategies within this article will allow you to:
- Understand when and why you are procrastinating
- Avoid procrastination
- Live a more productive and fulfilling life
What’s the secret to stopping procrastination?…
I have always lacked motivation when it comes to big changes. I always end up talking myself our of things, simply because I cannot be bothered with all the upheaval. This is really motivating and useful advice. Thank you.
Thank you for reading Jackie. I am so happy you found the article to be motivating and useful! 🙂