In this post, we’ll take a look at how to finally stop procrastinating, the reasons why we procrastinate in the first place, and tips and tools to never procrastinate again!
You have a major deadline coming up very soon and you still have a lot of work to do. But, you get a notification on your phone or computer and you immediately stop working to check it out. Or you tell yourself you’ll scroll through your social media feed for 5 minutes and 45 minutes later you’re still at it. Let’s face it, you’re actively looking for distractions.
Who hasn’t been faced with this type of situation? Who hasn’t dealt with finding a whole range of excuses and putting off to later what we should be doing today?
Procrastination can be a bad habit that really hurts your productivity and prevents you from achieving your goals. Furthermore, it also comes with feelings of guilt and low self-esteem after the fact and that’s just not something we want to feel!
If you suffer from procrastination, you are not alone! It’s estimated that around 20% of the adult population and 50% of the student population are chronic procrastinators.
The good news? There are ways to fight against your urge to procrastinate and finally get things done!
First, let’s take a look at why we procrastinate in the first place.
Reasons we procrastinate
You know you have a task to finish (or start!) but you’re afraid the result will be less than perfect. So, instead of tackling your task, you put it off to a later date or you keep working on it endlessly because it will never reach your level of satisfaction.
2. Fear of failure
You can’t fail at something you haven’t started, right? But how many opportunities have you missed with this type of mindset?
3. Fear of the unknown
Not knowing how things are going to unfold is a major reason for procrastination. The task or project is unfamiliar to you so you don’t know what to do or where to start.
4. Unpleasant tasks
When you judge a task as being unpleasant, boring, or uninteresting, you are much more likely to put it off instead of doing it right away.
5. Low self-esteem
When faced with difficult tasks, people with low self-esteem tend to believe they aren’t capable of accomplishing them. They downplay their skills and exaggerate the task’s difficulty. Procrastination becomes a great alternative option.
6. Vague, abstract goals
If the reasons why you’re doing something is unclear, vague, or abstract, chances are you’re not going to get it done. For example, having a goal like “lose weight” isn’t going to get you going to the gym every day. However, if you specify it like “go to pilates class every Thursday and ride bike on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays for 45 minutes”, has a higher chance of getting you to take action.
7. Feeling overwhelmed
When you feel overwhelmed and that there’s just too much to do, it can be stifling. When you have too much going on at the same, it can be difficult to know where to start and what priorities to set.
No one can be productive all day long. We all go through cycles of productivity and that’s normal. When your brain and body start to get tired, you’ll notice your mind start to wander and you’ll be much more easily distracted.
13 ways to finally stop procrastinating and get things done
We’ve covered some of the reasons we procrastinate but how do we stop?
1. Understand the problem
Being aware of and understanding why you procrastinate is the first step to stop procrastinating. Use the list above to figure out what could be the reason behind your procrastination. Understanding this enables you to tackle the issue instead of hoping you’ll get to work soon.
2. Eliminate all forms of distraction
To finally stop procrastinating, the best thing to do is to eliminate all forms of distraction. Create a space that promotes concentration and calm. Put your phone in airplane mode or use an app that blocks social media, games, and text messages. Offtime is a great app to use unplug and focus on what matters! Music has also been proven to improve concentration, especially classical and Jazz so don’t hesitate to put on your headphones.
3. Identify your most productive moments
Each of us has different moments during the day where we are the most productive. For some, it’s in the morning, for others, it’s late at night.
Identifying those moments enables you to maximize your time and use them to accomplish your most important tasks or those that require the most focus.
You’ll also identify your “slump” times, moments when you are the least productive, and plan your schedule accordingly.
4. Set clear goals
Setting clear, concrete goals increases your chances of accomplishing them. The more detailed and specific you are, the better. Make sure they are also achievable and meaningful to you. Ask yourself why this goal is important to you, what you’re going to gain by achieving it.
5. Break it down
If you’ve got a giant project you need to tackle, start by breaking it down in smaller tasks. This will help you have a clearer picture of what needs to be done, but it will also make the project seem less intimidating and make you feel less overwhelmed. The smaller the task, the easiest it is to get done. Once you have the smaller steps set out, focus on one step at a time. If you’re still procrastinating, break it down even more!
6. Make a to-do list
To-do lists are another way to break down your goals into tasks. You can organize and prioritize these tasks, set deadlines and it’s the perfect way to track your progress. Be as detailed as possible
Either go old school with a pen and paper or try one of the many apps that exist to help you keep track of your tasks.
It can also be a great way to keep you motivated to continue. What a great feeling you get when you cross off a task from your list!
7. Use the time-boxing technique
Timeboxing is a time management technique that is great to manage your workload. This technique focuses on time instead of tasks. You allocate a certain number of hours or days, called a “timebox,” to each activity. You then use this time, and only this time, to complete the task. First, estimate how long each item on your to-do list should take to complete, and allocate a set amount of time to each one. Then set a timer to alert you to when you should move on to your next timebox.
This technique is useful to stop procrastinating because it forces you to focus on one task at a time for a dedicated period of time. You can’t drag out the tasks that need to get done and you can plan your breaks ahead of time.
8. Stop multitasking
Multitasking is a myth. You aren’t doing many things at once but switching from one task to another and this has been proven to be less productive than working on one task at a time. Multitasking often leads to loss of concentration and overwhelm. The probability that you don’t finish your tasks goes up. Once you’ve identified which task you’re going to work on, stick to that one and don’t switch to another task.
9. Have a great work environment
Where you work has a big impact on your level of productivity and procrastination. Take a look at your desk. Does it inspire you? Is it cluttered and disorganized? Is the TV right next to it? Optimizing and organizing your workspace is a great way to get things done. Turn it into a place where you can focus and feel inspired.
10. Count to 10 before indulging in your desire
When you feel the urge to give in to your impulse and reach for your phone to check Facebook, count to 10. If the urge is still there, then allow yourself 5 minutes to engage in that activity. But, you’ll most likely find that your urges come and go and don’t last.
11. Take a break
Yes, you heard me! Take a break. Working for hours on end without a break is a bad idea. Your brain and body need to take breaks to recharge and come back with renewed energy. If you don’t take breaks, your productivity will suffer and you’ll be more susceptible to distractions in the end.
Breaks are important but they need to be done consciously. Plan your breaks ahead of time and use this time to get up and stretch or go outside instead of scrolling through your social media feed.
12. Just start
Get off your butt and take action! If you don’t take that first step, you can plan, organize, and reflect all you want, nothing is going to happen. Starting is often the most complicated part. You don’t have to start with the biggest task. Start small and work your way up.
13. Congratulate yourself
Don’t forget to reward yourself once you’ve accomplished the tasks and goals you set out to do! We tend to love short term gratification over long term gratification so make sure you reward yourself after each step. Just finished reading a chapter? Eat a piece of chocolate!
There you have it, 13 ways to finally stop procrastinating! Now it’s up to you to put them in place and practice them.
Learning to stop procrastinating takes time and work. You have to be willing to put in the effort but over time, you’ll see your productivity increase and you’ll be able to get things done!
So don’t wait until tomorrow to start implementing these steps!
You might be interested in How to permanently break bad habits in 5 simple steps!
What are your reasons for procrastinating? What prevents you from getting things done? Let me know!
Till next time,