Procrastinating is something we all do, you find yourself binge-watching a Netflix series instead of finishing a task. There have been many occasions where I’ve made a to-do-list and completed not one thing! I noticed the negative impact it was having on my life. I had to work out how to stop procrastinating.
Leaving it till tomorrow or the “I’ll do it later” attitude was no longer cutting it.
I graduated from university and was in at the right at the deep end as a Medical Recruiter, it’s a fast-paced industry, meaning you have to keep up!
But I was delaying tasks and only getting things completed when I had no other choice.
I kept being told that I have “great potential” but need to push myself more. Hearing this all the time got me down, so I had to figure out why and how to stop procrastinating.
Often we get into the cycle of procrastinating, which turns into a filthy habit. But we never ask ourselves the reason.
How often have you made an excuse for missing a deadline because you procrastinated and left things to the last minute?
Do you find yourself :
- With a long to-do list that you never get around to doing?
- Trying to work out how to stop procrastinating
- Hating the fact that you can never get things done?
Well, you’re in the right place!
I’m here to give you 15 useful tips on how to stop procrastinating and finally get more done.
Some links in my posts are affiliate links to products or services that I have used myself or believe will be useful. If you purchase any products or services provided in these links, I may earn a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you and you are not obliged to purchase, use or recommend anything provided in these links.
15 TIPS TO STOP PROCRASTINATING
1) FIGURE OUT WHY
Many people assume procrastination is just laziness. And all you need to do is get up and get your sh*t together. And as someone who procrastinates, I know it’s not that simple.
There are other things to consider, particularly if you procrastinate regularly. Aside from laziness, several other factors can cause us to procrastinate. Such as fear of failure, lack of control, indecisiveness and anxiety.
But the only way to work out how to stop procrastinating is to figure out why we do it. Once we find out the root cause, we can start using some strategies to stop doing it.
Start by thinking of tasks you put off and why. For example, I procrastinated at work when I should have been dealing with emails.
When asking myself why, I realized it was because I wasn’t confident in my ability to write a professional email.
I also noticed that my fear of success, need to be perfect and anxiety was causing me to procrastinate.
Just the thought of being successful or remotely good at something made my palms sweaty. Being praised or put in a social environment was so daunting. I did not understand these were the reasons I procrastinated.
2) ASK WHY 5 TIMES
Sakichi Toyoda, the inventor, and founder of Toyota Industries created the 5 why’s technique. Toyoda used the technique at Toyota as part of employees’ problem-solving training. It is simple and easy for anyone to follow.
The technique revolves around asking why? 5 times. Asking a question five times can lead to figuring out a problem allowing for a solution to become clear.
So, try it, get out a pen and paper and ask yourself why? Here’s an example:
1. Why do I feel guilty or regretful?
A. Because I haven’t been to the gym.
2. Why haven’t I gone to the gym?
A. Because I have no one to go with and I don’t want to go on my own.
3. Why don’t I want to go on my own?
A. I’m afraid I’ll look silly by myself.
4. Why would I look silly?
A. Because I have no clue what I’m doing,.
5. Why do I not understand what to do?
A. Because I haven’t asked a professional for advice or invested in a personal trainer.
Solution–hire a personal trainer or ask a professional for advice.
Asking those five why’s helped understand the issue and then find a solution. I know this is a simple example, but I just wanted to show you how easy it is to apply this method when you are trying to understand why you procrastinate.
3) BLOCK YOUR TIME
Allocate a specific amount of time to complete tasks. This will help you get things done hastily and not focus on unnecessary details.
For example, setting two hours to write and complete a blog post. Having a time limit will force you to get the post completed and move on to the next task.
Time blocking tasks can also help reduce the feeling of dread when you have something to complete.
For example, if you hate going to gym, blocking out 30 minutes can make it feel like less of a burden. You know the exact time you have to get in and out. Therefore, you won’t delay or waste time.
4) EAT THE FROG – Do The Hardest Task First
When I first heard this phrase, I had no clue what it meant. But in learning more about it, I realised how useful it can be.
There is always that one thing that we do not look forward to doing, whether at work or at home.
Instead of putting it off for as long as possible, complete your hardest or most important task first.
Get it out of the way and off of your mind so you won’t have that feeling of dread lingering until it’s completed. Also known as ‘eating the frog’, the frog represents the worst or hardest task.
5) HAVE A ROUTINE
Having a routine gives some structure to your day.
For example, if you choose a routine to get up early every day, eat breakfast and leave a little earlier for work. You will then miss the morning rush and have time to plan your tasks, to have the most productive day, rather than rushing.
Make self-care a part of your routine, not looking after yourself can cause you to feel tired and stressed, which can cause you to procrastinate even more.
6) TIDY YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Your environment is so important and believe it or not plays a major part when working out how to stop procrastinating.
Think about it. If your house or workspace is cluttered or disorganized, your mood reflects that without you even realising it.
Look at your home or even your desk at work. Is it swallowed by a pile of paperwork and endless dirty coffee mugs?
Well, take a moment to clean up, declutter and throw away anything you don’t need. Create a clean, peaceful and inviting environment that entices you to be there and be productive.
Add things to your environment to make you feel more comfortable or inspired, like pictures of loved ones or something that reminds you of a happy time.
For example, I have plants, desk lamps and ornaments from my travels on my desk and in my home to remind me of those amazing experiences.
7) WRITE A TO-DO LIST
Write a to-do list to identify your goals and how you plan to action them. This will help you remain organized.
Break down goals, prioritize them and put them into your schedule with realistic deadlines for each of them.
Having a to-do list can also help you feel more accountable and less likely to procrastinate.
There is a great satisfaction when you get to the end of the day having crossed everything off your list.
You can use a pen and paper or write out your list on your laptop or phone. The choice is yours to see what fits you best.
I prefer the good old pen and pad. I’m kind of obsessed with notebooks and stationery. I love Pukka Pad notebooks; they are super affordable and have different sections so you can organise your notes.
8) PRIORITIZE YOUR TASKS
A brilliant way to stop procrastinating is to prioritize your tasks. From your to-do list, order your tasks from most important to the least and write a deadline for each of them.
Doing this will stop you from wasting time focusing on tasks that aren’t important. And it will also stop you from feeling overwhelmed because you do not understand where to start with your list.
There are so many ways you can go about prioritizing. I love the Ivy Lee method; It is simple and straight to the point.
With this method, you write the six most important things you have to do the next day, in order of importance, at the end of each night. The next day, you work on your list one by one following that order.
9) BREAK LARGE GOALS INTO SMALL STEPS
When you have larger tasks or goals, it can become overwhelming, especially when you haven’t planned how you will achieve or complete them.
Make your goal or task specific before breaking it down into smaller steps. For example, rather than a goal being to ‘get a new job’, the goal instead could be to ‘get a new job by July 2020’.
Once you have your goal/task, write an ordered list of the steps needed to achieve the goal or complete the task.
For example, the goal is to get a new job by March 2020, the list of steps may be to, “research different career paths”, “update your CV”, “create a LinkedIn profile”, “sign up with job agencies” and so on.
Using smaller steps helps you stay organized and in control of what you’re trying to achieve. Because having smaller steps prompts you to take action.
So, get started, write any goals you need to achieve or tasks you need to complete. Break them down and get going!
But please, don’t get too obsessive over lists!
Having a plan and trying to being organized is great. But don’t allow that to be a cover-up or excuse to procrastinate. Once you have your goal and small steps written, use them and take action.
10) BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF
Be honest with yourself. See what can be delayed or removed from your goals or to-do list. This will make an enormous difference when working out how to stop procrastinating.
For example, if you planned to meet friends for dinner three times a week but end up being swamped by work commitments. Delay it until you will have time, rather than feeling guilty about not going.
Or maybe you planned to wake up at 5 am on weekdays, knowing off the back that you will snooze your alarm and wake up at 6 am. Take it off your list until you’re ready to commit.
Being honest with trying to decide what is and isn’t working takes a lot of discipline and hard truths. But it can help you stop delaying things and build healthier habits.
Once you decide what is working, you can focus on that instead of worrying about all those things you said you would do, but haven’t.
11) BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Procrastination is often accompanied by guilt, so try to be kind to yourself and remember that you are only human.
How many times have we talked to friends about going to the gym, “I really should have gone to the gym today, BUT…” Followed by an excuse about why we didn’t go.
Making excuses or brushing things off is something we do because we feel guilty or regretful.
Forgive yourself for watching an entire series on Netflix instead of finishing a project. That time has passed, don’t let that influence your future decisions. Instead, use it as fuel to act differently.
Procrastination is usually centred around our emotions. Feeling guilt or regret will only keep you in that mind frame and cause you to put things off even more.
Focus on being kind and forgiving yourself. It will help you break the cycle of leaving things to the last moment or not doing them at all.
12) STOP TRYING TO BE PERFECT
Trying to be perfect can make you procrastinate more than ever!
You can put off doing things because you worry it won’t be perfect. Or even spend more time than necessary on a task, because of nit-picking at every minor thing.
If this something you do, start by accepting that not everything will be ‘perfect’ and it is okay for things to have flaws.
If you find it hard to start something because you think it will suck, start it anyway. Everything is a process you can always add and tweak things and still achieve amazing results.
Or, if it scares you to submit something that you feel isn’t perfect, get advice from a trusted friend or colleague.
Most of the time I’m not sure if my blog posts ‘perfect’ but getting a friend to give it a quick look over, is an opportunity for me to get honest feedback and make adjustments.
Something not being perfect is not the end of the world. What is perfect anyway, does it even exist? It’s okay for things to have flaws, it can add character or a bit of charm.
13) VISIT YOUR GP OR COUNSELLOR
Something I realised is, procrastination can sometimes be related to the state of our mental health. For instance, depression.
Depression can cause you to feel de-motivated, unable to concentrate, fatigued and have a decreased interest in doing things you usually love.
If you feel this is something you experience, visit your GP or health practitioner to get advice or treatment. This will in the latter affect your level of productivity and help you deal with procrastination.
14) TELL SOMEONE ABOUT YOUR GOALS
Tell someone about your goals or something that you are working on, ideally someone you trust.
Once you tell someone what you are up to, they are more likely to follow up with your progress.
For example, when I started my blog, I told a close friend, and she continued to ask how it was all going. It made me want to get my act together and hold myself accountable.
Knowing someone is interested makes you not want to let them down and not look like you are all talk and no action.
I know you shouldn’t do things based on others, but it can give you a kick up the butt when trying to stop procrastinating.
15) GET RID OF DISTRACTIONS
Removing distractions will allow you to focus. There are so many ways you can go about doing this, it all depends on your distractions.
For example, if your phone is a major distraction, put it on silent or there are apps that you can use to block notifications.
Or remove your phone from your environment completely.
I don’t mean throwing it in the bin, but maybe lock it away in a drawer or put it in another room. If it is out of your reach, your less likely to get distracted by it.
Procrastination is a pain in the butt. But if you create a plan and use the correct steps to deal with it, you have a greater chance of limiting how much you procrastinate.
But remember, if you don’t put your plans into action, you won’t see any results. It won’t happen overnight, but it is still doable. So, believe in yourself and do it!