Procrastination is a common problem amongst those who have a list of things to do, pretty much everyone. Whether it’s a mundane task that needs to get done or a bigger project that brings uncertainty of where to start. Understand that this is normal and we all go through it. The trick is to develop systems that help us beat procrastination by reducing the feelings of being overwhelmed and not knowing where or how to start. We will show you some methods on how to stop procrastinating and start taking action.

 

Why We Procrastinate

Let’s dive into the reason why we procrastinate to understand further how to solve the problem at its core. There are two points we think are the most detrimental to your progress; sheer laziness and feeling overwhelmed. Most other reasons can fall under these two points.

Feeling Overwhelmed

Being overwhelmed by the tasks or projects you need to complete may be deteriorating to your progress. Where do you start? How do you start? Can I actually do this? The deadline is approaching and it’s not close to being complete, what do I do? These are some of the questions you may be asking yourself. Most of the time, the feeling of being overwhelmed is due to lack of direction or lack of structure. You need to develop a good structure to know where to start. You will find strategies below on how to create structure and discipline.

Feeling Lazy

Being lazy is easy. Don’t feel like cooking? Order in. Want to go shopping but don’t want to leave the house? Shop online. Running low on groceries? Order a restock. The list goes on. Today, it is effortless for us to be lazy, we can have others do the work for us. We get comfortable with this, build a habit of it, and then we have a difficult time actually getting some work done. So, how do we overcome this challenge? Simple, we get motivated. We wrote an article on how you can motivate yourself to take action, check it out if you are struggling with laziness.

 

These two feelings are at the top of the list of procrastination. You can easily fit all other reasons under one of these feelings. Below you will find strategies to help you overcome the hurdles by setting up systems in place and build a better understanding of why we procrastinate.

 

How to Stop Procrastinating

Create a To-do List or Goals For the Day

This step is essential to stop procrastinating, and we recommend doing this the night before. Creating a to-do list accomplishes a few things:

  1. Sets a direction for your day by listing things that you need to complete.
  2. Helps alleviate feelings of being overwhelmed by providing a direction and a place to start.
  3. Creates a structured approach to your day and sets expectations.

Tips to make this work:

  1. Create your list the night before, ideally after dinner or before bed time.
  2. Put the highest priority items first.
  3. If items are too big, break them down into smaller chunks.
  4. As you progress, check off the items you have completed. Checking off your items is very important; it keeps you motivated to keep going by showing yourself progress.
  5. At the end of the day, review the items you have completed. If any remain, add them to the next day’s to-do list

 

Start First Thing in the Morning

Get into the habit of completing your tasks first thing. Knock them off your list as soon as possible. Waiting only adds to your procrastination. Also, by completing your tasks early, you create a greater sense of accomplishment, and you may even decide to keep going and tackle other things that aren’t on today’s list. Create an opportunity for more output and more action. If you finish earlier and still feel motivated to complete more, then you should. If not, you can relax and enjoy your day! Either way, it’s a win win situation. Completing tasks first thing creates structure in your day.

Tips to make this work:

  1. Develop a morning routine that puts you in the mindset to get things done. Make this a daily routine or ritual that you follow. It can be as minor as brewing coffee and sitting at your desk first thing or as in-depth as exercising, meditating, and then tackling your tasks. Regardless of the routine you develop, make sure you do it every day to build a habit and create a mindset necessary to achieve your goals.
  2. Stay away from distraction first thing in the morning such as reading the news, social media, email, voicemail, or anything that can be big time wasters.

 

Just Start

Just start! Stop thinking and start acting. Once in motion, you will find yourself effortlessly continuing your work. This is from Newton’s First Law of Motion. Although the law pertains to physics, you can apply it to productivity. Newton’s law states that whatever is in motion stays in motion and, conversely, whatever is in rest stays in rest. As noted before, once you start, you will find yourself continuing with ease. So, get started and stop the overthinking.

Tips to make this work:

  1. Depending on what you are trying to complete, just get to work. Feeling lost? Get into your work environment and do something, anything. It doesn’t matter what it is, just start!
  2. Start, start, and more start! That’s it.

 

Set Deadlines

Set deadlines for your projects and hold yourself accountable. Get into the habit of assigning deadlines to your items. If you have a big project that needs to be complete, set a time frame for it and then break it down into smaller, daily, chunks.

Tips to make this work:

  1. Focus on reasonable deadlines but don’t be too lenient. It is vital that you create tight deadlines to put you into action. If your deadline gives you too much room to breathe, it makes it much easier to introduce procrastination.
  2. Have multiple deadlines within a project by breaking down the project, or task, into smaller chunks and assign each one a deadline.

 

Change Your Environment

Depending on where you work from, whether you are self-employed, you work for a company, or you work from home, if you can, try changing the environment you work from. An environment change can introduce more creativity or inspiration. If you work from home, try working an hour or two from a coffee shop, such as Starbucks, and see how it affects you. If you work for a company, in an office setting, ask for a change of scenery by moving to a different desk, if available. Try to be creative with this.

Tips to make this work:

  1. Try setting a schedule where you change your work environment, maybe once or twice a week. See how it changes your mood or effects your work.
  2. Try different spots. Maybe one day, on a beautiful day, of course, you can work outside, in your backyard (if you have one). Another day, from a coffee shop.
  3. Be creative with your environment. Paint your walls a different color, change the décor, or get some new office furniture. Inspire creativity!

 

Have Someone Hold You Accountable

Have a friend or family member hold you accountable to your results or deadlines. Holding yourself accountable works wonders but having someone else do it is even more prevailing. By having someone push you and hold you accountable, a sense of necessity to meet your deadlines emerges.

Tips to make this work:

  1. Find someone you trust, thinks like you and understands what you are trying to accomplish.
  2. Stay away from those who put you down, aren’t trying to achieve anything themselves, or thinks very differently. It is important to have the right person by your side.
  3. If you can’t find a friend or family member that can help you and hold you accountable, look online. Join Facebook groups, Google+ communities, and forums that are in your niche or focus on achieving results and personal improvement.
  4. Be an accountability partner yourself. This not only helps keep someone else on track but it also helps you by seeing someone else’s progress. It can be very motivational.

 

Be Positive

Get into a habit of positive thinking. Focus on the positive effects of the outcomes when completing your tasks. Stray away from negative self-talk. Understand that doubt is normal, we all experience it, but those who rise are the ones that don’t let doubt consume them. Instead of asking “What if this fails?” ask “What if this succeeds?”. You can’t start if you keep looking at the many ways things can go wrong or how you may not be able to complete the task at hand. Focus on what can go right and how you can overcome any challenge.

Tips to make this work:

  1. Stop all the negative self-talk. Build a habit of thinking positive and being positive.
  2. When you are feeling down, write down the things that can go right if you were to tackle them.
  3. Think of memories where you were able to overcome a challenge, regardless of how small. Everyone has done this at some point in their life. Use this as a tool to prove to yourself that you are capable of accomplishing your goals.

 

Reward Yourself

Build a reward system. One way of doing it is to complete a certain number of tasks, let’s say two tasks from your to-do list, and reward yourself once you finish the tasks. Your reward should be a fun activity that you enjoy. Allot a time length for your fun activity, then, get back to your next two tasks, and reward yourself again. Rinse and repeat. You may also decide to complete all your tasks and then reward yourself afterward. The structure is up to you!

Tips to make this works:

  1. Define a reward that you find enjoyable. Define how you will reward yourself and after which criteria you will reward yourself.
  2. Be consistent with the reward system. If you split the rewards in-between tasks, don’t overindulge. Always be consistent
  3. If your reward requires a considerable amount of time, consider using it only after your daily tasks are complete. This is highly recommended. Otherwise, procrastination may push you away from continuing afterward.

 

Stop Trying to Be Perfect

Remove the notion that whatever you are working on needs to be perfect to be complete. This is not true. Focus on completing the task instead of perfecting it. If you are too focused on perfecting whatever it is you’re working on, you may never complete it. No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes and that’s fine. Making mistakes is a natural part of growth! Consider a book, how many times have you encountered grammatical or spelling errors while reading? The number of revisions, editing, and proofreading each book goes through, before publication, would assume it should be perfect in a grammatical sense. Yet, mistakes are always found!

Tips to make this work:

  1. Just finish it, no matter how imperfect you may think it is, just finish it!
  2. Let go of the perfectionist mentality and understand that mistakes are vital for growth.
  3. Have someone else review your work if you feel it’s lacking. Most of the time, you will be surprised with other’s opinions, in a good way of course!

 

Looking for tools to boost your productivity? You can find the 7 tools we recommend that can boost your productivity and help you with your procrastination!

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We hope you enjoyed these tips on how to stop procrastinating. These tips can help you be more productive and conquer procrastination. If you have any other tips you would like to share, please leave a comment below. If you enjoyed this, share it with others you think may need it.

Thanks for reading!

How to Stop Procrastinating, Be More Productive, and Take More Action
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