10 Ways To Stop Procrastinating
Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~ William James (Tweet this)
Everybody has needed to stop procrastinating at some point, I am sure of it. Some of us are guilty of a bigger amount of abandoned “to do” lists than others, but all of us have at some point fallen into the trap of I’ll do it later.
The reasons for procrastination are endless, and it is not just because of laziness. In fact, many times procrastination can come from doing too many things and feeling overwhelmed. Therefore, often times, the creative types with amazing plans are getting stuck before they even start.
The main problem is that this pattern creates an accumulation of things to do that is very stressful to look at, and therefore, we tend to eventually sacrifice half of them, tossing them to the “I wish I had” pile to never be seen again.
I have been a procrastinator many times, but even though the name sounds kind of cool (like terminator, except that ironically you tend not to finish anything) I am not the type that is comfortable with having any “I wish I had” items. So over the years, I have discovered and borrowed many techniques to stop procrastinating immediately.
Today, I am going to share them with you so that you also can finish that incredible prize-winning project you have been wanting to work on for so long! Just remember me when you are on top!
The trick to stop procrastinating is to try a couple of these tips the moment you realize it is creeping in. For me at least, not one single technique has worked on its own. It depends on the task and the mood I find myself in. So I recommend that you don’t discard any of them until you have tried each of them in different scenarios a couple of times.
1. Stop procrastinating in baby steps
This one especially works for me when I find myself overwhelmed by tasks. The picture as a whole is way too intimidating, so instead, dissect the project into little steps that are easier to handle. Psychologically, this will help you to identify things you can start taking action over right away, and once you get started then the procrastination dragon has been slain!
2. Change your physiology to change your emotional state
I learned this one in a different context but it still applies. Have you ever heard that to start feeling better you should smile, even if it’s a forced smile at the beginning? Well, it sounds silly but it actually works. Procrastination has a huge emotional component, so once you get into the mood to stop procrastinating, being energized, and efficient, you will have completely switched gears on it.
Get comfortable and prepare yourself and your environment to start the task. If you would like to work out more, then get dressed in sporty clothes. If you would like to write a novel, prepare a nice space on your desk or in a kitchen corner and sit at it for at least a half-hour and write whatever! You get the idea.
3. Have a friend hold you accountable
Social accountability motivates people to stick to what they say they are going to do. When I ran my first marathon I knew this, so I tried to recruit a couple of friends to run it with me so that we would keep each other on track.
After my friends politely refused by telling me that I was crazy to think they would run 40K with me, I decided to run for a charity and make my intentions public! After my first short 3-mile training session I thought, “What have I done!?” But I stuck to it, mostly because I had people counting on me.
Finishing that marathon was one of the best experiences in my life! And I did it because of social accountability. If you are social, you can create a group where different people are working on their individual projects and you meet once a week to see how everybody is advancing while giving each other ideas and encouragement (I’ve done this, and it works beautifully). Or if you work best solo, tell your plans to a couple of people you respect and ask them to keep you on track by checking on you periodically.
4. Get rid of procrastination temptations!
You know what I am taking about, you sit at your desk, you are all ready to start and then… your phone lights up—wanna chat!? Or you decided to check your FB messages just for a second and find yourself laughing at cat videos an hour later, or that chocolate craving has now become an urgent matter and you cannot concentrate until you go to that pastry shop in the other side of the city! Sound familiar?
You know yourself better than anybody else, so to stop procrastinating you must ensure that you minimize all distractions. Put your phone on airplane mode or on “do not disturb” before you start, stay away from social sites, and do not start working while hungry are a few of the ways.
5. Re-discover your priorities
Priorities change with time; this is not a bad thing and is completely normal. For example I bet that what you like and what you want to accomplish has probably somewhat changed since you were in high school.
Having a clear understanding of what makes you happy today will help you in two different ways to stop procrastinating. First, you might realize that you have been procrastinating on something because it is not longer relevant to you, and you will be able to let go of it or update your approach with a clearer view. And second, by finding out what you really want to do you will automatically get injected with new motivation!
6. Do not over think!
Yes, organization can help, but in order to stop procrastination, action must take its place. Sometimes it is best just to jump in with both feet and get on it without giving it a second thought! Remember that an imperfect plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.
7. Do the worst first
Often, there are just a couple of things that are keeping you from getting started, they are necessary but you really dislike them, and that’s why you are dragging your feet.
As long as they exist you will never stop procrastinating about the rest of the process, so get them out of the way as early as possible. After that, you will be able to breathe easier and things will be done with much less resistance.
8. Have a reset button for your attitude
This works wonders for me when working on longer projects. In order to avoid slowing down and falling into procrastination due to burn out, have a something you can do to pick yourself back up and continue with renewed energy! For me, walking away from the desk and getting some fresh air always works.
The same goes for moments when you feel overwhelmed or frustrated by something, take a break, reset and restart! Not only can you stop procrastinating, but you will also be able to think much clearer and obstacles will become easier to overcome.
9. Do it in small time bites
I learned this one out of necessity while having to work around my baby’s schedule. Often, if you wait to have the perfect chunk of time you might never start (not-to-mention finish) a project.
Instead, just set the timer and work on your task in small bits. It might seem like it will take forever this way, but at the end of the week, ten minutes here and there accumulate to hours of work that otherwise might have never gotten done.
10. Lists and more lists!
Oh the old faithful lists. These might seem like a very tired trick, but behind their simplicity there is the power of getting your brain started on the task and organizing your mind. I like making lists on paper, maybe because I find pleasure in crunching the page at the end, but you have tons of electronic options to keep yourself organized.
Remember that procrastination often leads to abandoned projects, so do not let it get in the way of achieving your goals.
How soon not now, becomes never. ~ Martin Luther (Tweet this)
Practice these tips on a daily basis to learn which ones work best for you and please share with us any other technique that has worked for you. Let’s stop procrastinating now—make it a thing of the past in our lives, and just in case, let’s start now!