Do you often find yourself putting off tasks until the last minute, only to feel stressed and overwhelmed? You’re not alone!
Many people struggle with chronic procrastination, but the good news is that there are effective strategies to overcome it. In this article, we’ll share some practical tips that can help you break free from the procrastination cycle and become more productive. Say goodbye to endless delays and hello to a more efficient life.
Tell Yourself To Do the Task for 10 Minutes
This advice goes into different forms in various sources. For example, in mindfulness and meditation, there is common advice to only practice with 3 long breaths. 3 breaths seem like nothing, right? Same as doing a task for 10 minutes.
You’ve probably heard the quote by Darren Main, which says that “the hardest part of any yoga practice is rolling out your mat.”
It’s all about the same concept. The catch here is that once you start, most likely, you’ll get into the flow, and it will be much easier to continue. More often than not, you will be partway through something after 10 minutes of focus, and you will want to continue.
A Redditor commented that “this works especially well for housework. You’d be surprised with how much you can get done in 10 minutes, especially if you do it often enough to avoid things piling up to the ceiling”.
Count to 3 and Just Start
It’s a kind of push concept. It’s all about taking action by pushing yourself to do something within five (or three) seconds.
It makes you stop overthinking how much you don’t want to do something and basically get over yourself and just do it. For some people, it might work better to count down to avoid keeping counting up. But the principle is the same.
This concept was popularized in the book called “The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage” by Mel Robbins.
Envision a Reward After a Task Is Done
As one Redditor puts it, “I like to envisage the stress-free chillout time after the task is done, and how I could have the rest of the day to just do nothing if I get the task out of the way right now. All about the chillin’.”
Set yourself a rewards system. “I’ll go and have a great lunch when I finish these 3 things”, “I’ll brew myself a good cup of coffee after finishing this task”, or even “I will browse whatever I want for 30 minutes after…” You got the point.
Make Your Bed First
The overall concept is to accomplish something, even if it’s something small. This way, you can instantaneously check something off the to-do list.
Others suggest taking a cold shower in the morning. While a cold shower has benefits on its own, the idea is to accomplish this one thing every morning. To explain, your mindset for the day will be different because you have already accomplished something.
It’s easy and a great kick starter.
Get a To-Do List
Having a to-do list for the day is like having a clear path and direction. For many people, not having a list feel like they don’t have any direction and then just waste the day.
It doesn’t matter if you use a shiny app or just a simple lined pad of paper, checking the items away gives a sense of satisfaction and a motive to go forward and get even more done.
“If I accomplish everything on the list for the day, the next morning, I wake up with a good outlook on the day because I was productive the previous day,” wrote a forum user.
Don’t Sit Down
Perhaps depends on personality and profession, but for some, the procrastination mode turns on as soon as they sit down to relax. For those, the common advice “Do whatever you need to do before sitting down” works pretty well.
Eating the Frog
Your mindset matters. Organizing your day properly and getting stuff done early means you won’t have to think about it. This gives great peace of mind.
“Eating the frog” means tackling the hard stuff first, so you can enjoy the rest of your day with a happy tummy.
You know this from social media, don’t you? Streaks or karma points keep up addicted to one app or the other. You get psychological rewards and feelings of accomplishment for activity, goals, and interaction.
Use it for your own advantage. Create your own game with your rules!
Turn Off Your Brain
Procrastination can appear in the form of a well-known situation called analysis paralysis. Turn off your brain and just start. Don’t overthink, don’t overcomplicate.
Some people feel like they have to do things in a certain order – “if I don’t do step A, I can’t start on step B”. A good piece of advice is to “consciously make yourself do things out of order so you don’t waste time waiting for conditions to be perfect, since they likely never will be anyway”.
The more you wait, the more excuses you will make for why it all can wait till later.
Work in Front of Others
The accountability factor matters. Involve other people. Get your supervisor to look at your work. Or, if you’re a solopreneur, just work somewhere that people can watch you. Going to a cafe does magic for some.
This is obvious but is often forgotten. The typical distractions like TV, your phone, other people’s conversations disturb and interfere with your ability to uninterruptedly focus. So they all have to go.
If your tasks involve working with a computer, close unneeded tabs and turn off all kinds of popups and alerts so that you can focus on your work. There are apps that can help you. Some people go as far as having a separate computer for, let’s say, development mode. They don’t have social accounts installed, they avoid unrelated apps, etc. Logging in a separate account works the same way. The critical thing is the focus.
Treat Procrastination as a Habit
Habits can equally be good or bad. All habits can be developed. Procrastination is really the opposite of discipline, and discipline takes practice. Try to systematize your behavior and try out new systems to see what works and what fails.
For example, the problem can be defined as first – getting started, then – keeping concentrated for a certain amount of minutes, and finally – restarting after a break. You need to find ways to deal with all three of those.
Remind Yourself of the Overall Goal
Sometimes, we all need a reminder of why we do what we do. It’s like having a compass.
You have your grand goal in mind, but it often gets buried in your daily grind when all you see is an endless list of chores. When frustration gets in the way, step down, take a deep breath, and look at your overall goal from a bird’s eye view. You will see how suddenly it all starts to make sense, and you will feel energized again.
Going Deeper: Procrastination and Fear
Procrastination is simply fear of your potential. The potential part meant both good and bad. Do you have the potential to create something awesome or the potential to screw it up masterfully? That’s why sometimes it’s said that procrastination is a fear of failure. In any case, it talks about the same thing.
Figuring out what is underneath and confronting it takes away the majority of the resistance to working.
The Final Note: Pick the Right Example
I came across a user who was discussing the issue of procrastination. He finally concluded: “Well, I’m currently on Reddit, so clearly, I don’t know the answer to this problem.” 🙂
If you want examples to follow, choose the good ones!