We all know that procrastination delays the achievement of our goals but we do it anyway.
Even if we call people procrastinators, procrastination is not exactly a character trait.
Procrastination is a way to deal with emotions such as stress, anxiety, fear of failure, insecurity, and lack of self-confidence.
Self-awareness about the so-called “benefits” of procrastination will help you deal with your procrastinating tendencies a bit more compassionately.
But if you want to grow and get things done, it is important to train your “doer” mode.
Watch E46 from #AsktheCEO series to learn more:
How to Stop Procrastinating and just Do the Job
Here are 22 tips on how to stop procrastinating and get more done you can start implementing today:
1. Consider the consequences.
If you fail to submit a project proposal, send that email, or meet a deadline, there are consequences. Action breeds results, and taking a backward-oriented approach may remind you of the consequences of actions taken or not taken in the past and the outcome of such behaviors. Think about where you are today and what brought you to today’s accomplishments. It helps with taking action now to reap delayed benefits.
2. Set fake deadlines.
When you are in charge, tasks don’t require deadlines to be set by someone else. Be your own boss and give yourself fake deadlines to create a timeline of events and a framework to follow through daily.
3. Do the hard work first.
Everyone has their least favorite tasks, tasks that require more mental or emotional effort, or tasks that involve difficult people. Tackle tasks that require you to be your best focus and give peak performance first thing in the morning. That’s when most people work at full capacity. Leave breadcrumb tasks for later. Or, find your peak productivity time, and do the focused work then.
4. Accept imperfection.
There is always room for improvement. But you shouldn’t let the search for perfection be your procrastination archnemesis. Allow for things to come up imperfectly, decide when something is done, and finish with it.
Breadcrumb tasks are those that require less than 2 minutes to execute. For example, when someone asks you to respond with a simple “yes” or “no” to an inquiry, or choose between several short choices, respond immediately. Otherwise, breadcrumb tasks make a huge mess, hijack a portion of your brain, and make you more prone to procrastinating.
6. Connect rewards to getting things done.
Procrastination is an immediate pressure release, but it is unhelpful in the long run. Because the reward of alleviating tension for a task we find threatening or challenging is instant, we tend to use it to reduce stress. Create two lists: one with smaller rewards for daily goals and another with larger rewards for larger goals and reward yourself when you do the task.
7. Set up a schedule.
You would expect this to be common sense for everyone. But you would be surprised to hear how many people don’t have a schedule. You don’t need to be an early riser (After all, when Mark Zuckerberg can do it, why not you?) but it can help with creating focused time to really think about your schedule priorities.
8. Time yourself.
Whether you use the Pomodoro timer, the Japanese 1-minute Kaizen method to fight procrastination, or timeboxing, make sure you value time as a resource and use it wisely.
9. Split your goals.
Need to prepare a one-hour presentation? Don’t schedule a full presentation task; set goals such as text brainstorming, picking images, citing resources, and text editing as separate goals. This is less overwhelming and won’t automatically put you in a procrastination mode.
10. Add extra time to tasks.
Leave 15 minutes extra for daily tasks, one day for weekly goals, and a week for large projects. This way, when something unexpected comes up (and it often does) it won’t put you in panic mode and prevent you from taking any action whatsoever.
11. Make the work visible.
Place a whiteboard with clear team goals in a central office area. Use a project management app to have an overview of tasks or simply, write tasks in a planner you keep at your desk and come back to every morning. This helps you recall the promises you have made to yourself about stopping procrastinating.
12. Work on as many things at once.
Creativity is a wonderful project starter, but if you start too many things and fail to finish them, you are in for massive fatigue. Complete things before you start anything new to manage resourcefulness.
13. Set boundaries.
“Pick your battles.” You cannot be everything to everyone. Setting boundaries can be scheduling self-time, limiting social media usage, replacing meetings with video calls, stopping chasing clients that are not a right fit, and so forth.
14. Organize your work environment.
There are some people who appreciate creative chaos. However, order is good for your wellbeing. Ensure you keep a tidy desk and a distraction-free work environment.
15. Visualize the task done.
Create mental pictures of complete projects, such as a full up-and-running and functional website, a published e-book lead magnet, or an impeccable app design. It helps you focus on actions to bring mental concepts into reality.
16. Evoke motivation.
What do you get if you complete the task? Why do you want to do something in the first place? What are the bigger rewards for getting things done?
17. Tick off completed tasks.
When you mark a task “done” on your list, your brain releases a small burst of dopamine, making you happy about an experience and a desire to repeat it. Dopamine rewards are your body’s way to help you avoid procrastination.
18. Delegate work.
You really don’t need to do it all yourself. You may realize some tasks are not for you and are better done by an expert or automated. Becoming an effective delegator is a must-do if you want to avoid procrastination paralysis because you have too much on your plate.
19. Reduce the number of decisions you make daily.
There is something called decision fatigue. Remember that friend that takes half an hour to pick an ice cream cone because there are more than 40 varieties? Well, you don’t need to become one in business. Improve decision-making by creating binary options, consulting intuition and emotions, and working on handling fear and pressure – simply forget about them.
20. Don’t overcomplicate.
You may have a complexity bias. (Yes, it’s a thing.) Complexity bias is a preference for complex rather than simple solutions to things. It indicates the tendency to avoid a problem by trying to explain it in complex terms. Face the tough: sometimes, a simple solution is the right one.
21. Track yourself.
You may have heard the sports saying: “Trust the process.” for when things in life don’t go according to plan. Tracking tasks, goals, and results, gives a clear picture of the process that takes you to your goals. Instead of focusing on what does not work currently, dedicate to the process, but track progress to know when and where to make adjustments.
22. Connect with someone who gets things done.
Call it a mentor, an accountability buddy, or a motivation partner, have someone on your side to keep you accountable. Even leaders need someone to lead them from time to time, especially when they encounter a rough patch. Have your “stop procrastination community” you can turn to when stress becomes a challenge.
Listen to the Virtual Frontier podcast to learn more about how to stop procrastinating:
Stop procrastinating. Develop laser-sharp focus. Get things done.