How to Stop Procrastinating 10 Top Tips
Most people procrastinate to some degree or another – it is a common problem, especially in today’s busy world where there are not only so many things you can do to occupy your time, but also so many distractions.
Procrastination can arise from any things – from your background and your own feelings of self-esteem and self confidence right the way through to just being a bit lazy about things, and consequently procrastination is a very complex area to cover, but there are some tips and techniques which anybody can adopt which should help
In addition, I would also throw in that as technology has advanced often getting things sorted has become a much more difficult process – the thought of ringing up a call center to sort out my recent broadband issues fills me with dread… so sometimes just not dealing with a situation can appear to be easier than dealing with it there and then
But let’s take one step back and first of all have a quick read of my article on “what is procrastination?” and in particular the various definitions which abound ….. to my mind though it comes down to one thing … putting off what you don’t want to do … “the art of putting things off”
So… without further ado … here are my top 10 tips on “how to stop procrastinating”
How to Stop Procrastinating
1) Get a “Round Tuit”
How often have you says “I’ll do it when I get around to it”.
Well go and get “a round tuit” and magically you will do whatever needs to be done.
Here’s one you can keep …
What you do need however are:
- The mindset to deal with the problem (reading this page is a good start)
- The recognition and acknowledgement that you might have a problem
- A few tools and techniques to help you
- The discipline to put those into practice …
Let’s grab our “round tuit” and begin….
2) Do The Bad Stuff First
Yes, there will be things that you are genuinely dreading doing such as making that phone call or responding to a letter.
Well, do the bad stuff first. Prioritize it above all other things. And give yourself a reward when you have done it, and then move on to the next more pleasant task.
You may find that the “bad stuff” was not as bad as you had thought and you will get an instant sense of achievement out of doing it …
Commit yourself to doing one “bad stuff” task a day up front, first thing you do, and you will feel much happier which in turn will help you stop procrastinating about the other stuff you have …
3) Make a Plan
Often procrastination occurs because of a lack of focus and a lack of direction. Sometimes things can just seem too overwhelming because they are, at least in your head, too interlocked with all the other things you have got to do
Most people would advise writing them down and making a “to do” list, but in my experience you end up with a list of stuff which makes you feel even more overwhelmed because there is so much on it..
So make a plan for your week….. do it on a Sunday evening if it helps, and map out everything you hope to achieve, everything you need to do, and plan it in ….
Spread the bad stuff over the week, commit to the plan and track it through the week adjusting it as necessary.
Other stuff will come up, it’s bound to, but do your best to stick to your commitments, and then the following week do the same thing again. Before you know it you will stop procrastinating for good because everything will be in your plan!
“Never lose a chance of saying a kind word”.
4) Break Down Big Tasks
Sometimes a task is just too big that it seems overwhelming and you will therefore never start it because it just seems too much
Clearing out the garage, painting the house, dealing with your finances are generally just too big a chunk of activity to tackle all at once so what do you do? Put them off for a time that never comes because the tasks are just too big
So break them down, commit to the smaller chunks and put them on your plan.
If you need to clear out the garage do it over a couple of months, starting with sorting a small part of it, doing a couple of tip trips a week etc
Breaking things down into smaller chunks will make the whole thing seem less daunting and will get you started and help you stop procrastinating for good…
5) Commit to Spending 15 Minutes on a Task
15 minutes isn’t very long.. honest…
What can you do in fifteen minutes?
Well, you could start a task, that’s what
Once you do this, chance are you will find that insurmountable task less daunting and you may even have enough motivation to continue with it.
Or you could get really bold and commit to an hour on the task – you never know you may even complete it!
Give yourself a reward if you do complete a task, or even part of a task and move on to the next one
6) Visualize Yourself Completing a Task
Take a minute and picture yourself completing a particularly unpleasant task that you have been putting off.
How would it feel? Good? Would you feel a sense of accomplishment? That there will be one more thing ticked off your list?
Then spend another couple of minutes visualizing the consequences of completing that task…. what would that mean?
- No more phone calls from the finance company
- Ability to move on to something else
- Feel more organized ..
Keep a focus on the end result. Many athletes and sports people use this technique to motivate themselves. Whilst it may not turn you into an Olympian, it should give you enough incentive to at least get started …
7) Picture What Would Happen If You Don’t Complete the Task
If you don’t complete a task what will happen? If you procrastinate long enough what will be the real consequences of your actions.
- Maybe your partner will get annoyed and start to mistrust you
- Maybe your bank will start charging you and ultimately foreclose on your house ..
- … maybe you will miss deadlines and lose your job
These are quite extreme examples but I urge you to just sit down and picture the potential consequences of your inaction and the problems that it could lead to further down the line … hopefully that will spur you into action!
8 ) Calculate the Cost of Not Doing a Task
One step further that picturing non-completion would be to actually calculate the cost of not completing a task
For instance if you have to respond to your mortgage company because you are behind on your payments and are putting it off calculate in real terms what your procrastination would cost you …
Chances there there will be an admin charge, and then interest applied.
But if you phoned them and explained the situation – even if you cannot pay immediately – chances are they will waive the admin charge and you could ask them to delay extra interest payments
Calculate the real cost to you personally of not taking action, it could be a sobering thought
9) Apply Work Principles to Home
There is every chance that you are quite disciplined at work and that is because you work in a tighter framework than you do at home.. people are relying on you to deliver stuff and you have deadlines and responsibilities to match….
Often you have to do things at work because it is “your job” and you will get sacked or disciplined if you don’t do it …
So why not apply those principles to your home life? Give yourself consequences if you don’t do something or …
10) Get an “Accountability Partner”
Who is the equivalent of your manager at work… This could be your partner, or a friend, or a colleague, and mutually support one another
Do it together, each supporting one another, so there is a consequence to a lack of action
This could be a real consequence (bills don’t get paid, deadlines are missed etc) or something you have defined between you (a night out, a trip to a football match etc)
Get someone who you can be accountable to .. it’s an excellent way of making sure you hit your deadlines…
11) Read a Book or Take a Course
I have added this eleventh tip because it is an important route that many people would choose to take and that is to read a book, or even better take a course in overcoming procrastination which will help you (partly because you have laid money out) become more accountable for your actions.
Suggested Further Reading and Tools
What is Procrastination?
Daily Goal Software – Clever Time Boxing Software to Help You Beat Procrastination
Procrastination Pro: The 21-Day System to Stop Procrastinating.
The Procrastinator’s Digest: A Concise Guide to Solving the Procrastination Puzzle
There you have it .. ten/eleven top tips to help you overcome procrastination.
I hope this article helps you, it has been quite cathartic for me writing it.
Remember.. I do recognize that often that the reasons we procrastinate are just not as simple as “bad habits” or “lazyness” …. often, procrastination can come from more deep rooted issues such as lack of self-esteem, self confidence and a myriad of other reasons
But I urge you to try the above techniques, see how they go for you, and they should go a long way towards helping you stop procrastinating and moving on with your life”
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