I am the ultimate procrastinator by nature. There have been countless days when I had important projects that HAD to be done before the end of the day only to find out that I did not start on it till 9pm and pulled an all nighter to finish. I knew I needed to change something.
I recently read a short book that changed my life. This book helped me to become a morning person, stop by lazy, and become a motivated person to take action everyday. It's how I even started this blog :)
The following list includes 30 anti-procrastination hacks that was provided in the book that will help you in your quest to triumph over your tendency to procrastinate, overcome what people may see as laziness, and take control of your goals.
Just do it.
Do not wait for inspiration to strike before you do something. Start writing a blog post NOW. Take a canvass and your paint brush and start painting NOW. Put on your rubber shoes and get on your treadmill NOW.
If you are not pleased with your present situation, you can complain no end. Nothing is really going to happen just because of your complaints. You have to do something to improve your circumstances. In the same manner, you can strategize, hypothesize, and plan all you want. Nothing significant is going to result from all such conjectures. What really matters is that you take action.
You cannot procrastinate your way to success. If you put things off until you “feel like it” or until “tomorrow,” you may end up NOT doing them anytime at all. Waiting to be inspired is not likely to cut it. You simply have to grit your teeth and DO.
Cut the crap.
If you want to focus on what you really have or want to do, you may have to decide to cancel out on the other unimportant things that tend to hold you back.
Take time to determine what is really important to you. Then focus on that FIRST. This may mean giving up idly surfing through the Web. It may mean skipping the newest episode of Stranger Things or putting off Snapchat first. Once you have decided what is essential or important to you, prioritize it. Give it your undivided attention. The rest is crap – or can wait.
Do away with what distracts you.
All of us enjoy doing certain things that prove to be serious distractions to what really needs to be done. For some, it may be pouring over Instagram stories. For others, it may be staying on the phone for hours chatting with their best friend.
Some distractions may not even be pleasant at all. Some people may spend hours on end worrying about their toddler catching a serious cold because the other kids he plays with on the playground have the sniffles.
Be ruthless. Remove the distractions. You know what you should really be paying attention to – what you should be doing.
Stop looking for approval
Do not put such a premium on the opinion of other people. It is a recipe for feeling bad about your life. It is a formula for lowering your self-esteem. Trust your inner wisdom. Believe that you know what is good for yourself.
If you have made up your mind to reach for a particular goal, do not allow what other people think or say about it to sway you. If you have to cut back on attending parties or getting the usual Friday drinks with your friends, do so if you have more important things to attend to.
Accept delayed results
If you have to give up an immediate reward for something significantly greater that will come later, do so. The rewards of deferred gratification are significantly sweeter and more gratifying. An author who finally gets his book published knows this. A person who enjoys a healthy, toned, and fit body knows this. A person who has a substantial amount of money in the bank knows this. They have resisted many little temptations and are now reaping great rewards for it. People who apply time, patience, and consistent effort are likely to enjoy the long-term satisfaction of enormous wins.
Break the big project into small manageable tasks
A huge important project may seem overwhelming. Having to implement a total make-over or a big change may seem overpowering. When you have to do something that seems difficult and consuming, you may end up trying to ignore it or put it off until you think you are ready to face it. That time may not come at all.
What you can do is to break that big project into small manageable steps. Take it one step at a time. Do not be daunted by the big picture. Get into the mindset of simply putting one foot in front of the other.
You do not have to figure out the entire thing right away. You just have to tackle one piece at a time. As you move along, slowly at first perhaps, you will find that things start to become clearer – and much easier. You will have finished the project before you know it.
Harness your apprehensions.
Dread is a strong emotion that can either keep you stuck or slow you down. When you try to look at it in an objective manner, things tend to become clearer to you.
Does doing something scare you? Sit down and try to go through what it is about the task that frightens or worries you. What is going to happen if you do not do anything about it? What is the price of continued inaction? What is the worst that can happen if you decide to tackle the job head-on? Looking at the job from the both angles will help you decide whether or not you should proceed with the project.
Use visualization to motivate you.
Picture the future. Imagine how you would feel once you tackle and accomplish this particular task. Imagine the satisfaction and exhilaration you will feel. Picture your loved ones as they share your joy. Imagine celebrating your accomplishment with them.
Acknowledge your effort and small successes.
Do not wait until the project is completed to celebrate. Get yourself going with a promise of reward.
If it is a difficult or unpleasant task that you are doing, keep yourself going by promising that you’ll treat yourself to something nice as soon as the task is done. This will create a pleasant anticipation that will help drive you to finish the task. Looking forward to the treat will make the hours go fast.
Enjoy even the small indications that you are making progress. Reward the small accomplishments. Give yourself a treat to motivate you to continue making advancements.
Take small brave steps.
It is essential to build momentum. You can start small. Take one brave step and acknowledge that you are moving towards the direction that you want. Try to step out of your comfort zone little by little. You will soon find out that things are not as difficult as you once feared them to be. Take one baby step; take another one.
Identify what you want to happen.
You must have a clear idea about what you want to happen. Imprinting your goals – no matter how small, on your brain is essential to accomplishing them.
You will find it difficult to achieve something if you do not know exactly what it is. Set clear directions. Be specific. Experts suggest that you write down your goals so that you are constantly reminded what to focus your time and energy on.
Tell a couple of close friends or family about your goals. You tend to follow through when you keep yourself accountable. Sharing your progress with people you love is also likely to inspire you toward accomplishment.
Get it out of the way right away.
When there is something unpleasant that you have to do, do it as soon as you can.
Research indicates that you are in the best position to push yourself in the morning when you have had sufficient rest and sleep. Your will power is at its strongest. Your mental faculties are sharp. Your physical energy is at its peak.
This is the best tine to face the tasks that you have been putting off. If the task is something personal, do it as soon as you wake up. If it has to do with your job, do it as soon as you get to your office. Just sit down and get it out of the way.
Being able to deal with an unpleasant task also has the added benefit of giving you a definite sense of accomplishment that will set just the right tone for the rest of the day.
Start small and build up.
Do you fear failure? Are you resistant to change? Most people are – and they usually procrastinate for these reasons.
You can overcome these obstacles by starting small. By doing this, the change you are about to take will seem insignificant. You are also likely to realize that the itsy bitsy step you are about to take is something that you can easily manage. Start small, exceedingly small, and build your way up.
For example, find something about the whole project that you are confident you will be able to do without much anxiety. Take half of that “something.” Make that your starting point.
When you have accomplished that task, find a similarly easy task related to the project. Do this in succession and you will eventually discover that you have taken care of quite a sizable chunk of the project.
Starting small and easy is the best way to get over your fear. It is also an effective way of going around your natural resistance to change.
You want to start exercising. You know that if you go for a brisk walk for 30 to 40 minutes at least three times a week, you will improve your health and increase your stamina.
However, you have been procrastinating for quite some time. You can’t seem to summon up the will power to start your exercise regimen.
Make up your mind to walk for 2 minutes. This infinitesimal goal may seek a bit ridiculous – but aim for it nevertheless. The task is so simple and easy that you will not find any reason not to do it.
Go for a walk for a couple of minutes every day. Once you become used to the routine, increase your time. Aim to walk for 5 minutes. Once again, get used to the routine. Gradually increase your walking time by five minute increments if you feel ready to do so. You will find it easy to do 10 minutes, then 15, then 20 minutes of brisk walking. Before you know it, you will be doing 30 minutes – your initial goal.
Starting small is easy. There is no fear of failure. However, it pushes you to finally start a project that you have repeatedly put off. It also enables you to build the habit and gives you the right mindset so that you stop procrastinating.
Eating a lettuce leaf, writing 2 sentences for your blog, organizing one shelf in your cabinet – you know that you can easily do any of these baby steps. The important thing is to begin.
Do not over-complicate things.
You need to be in the right frame of mind to start the project. You have to have all the information you need before you can start writing. You have to be inspired. You have to be well-rested. You can come up with a hundred reasons NOT to start working on a task if you want everything to be just right.
There is NO right time. It is impossible to expect everything to just come together in a perfect manner just so you can start the task that you have been putting off. The perfect time will never come.
Most of the time, you are likely to get more things done when you aspire simply to finish something. Aiming to do things perfectly may hold you back from doing something toward reaching your goal. Plan to write the perfect blog post – and you may find yourself not writing anything at all.
Re-examine your goals.
It is possible for you to outgrow your goals. If you have been putting off a project for quite some time, it is possible that the reason behind your procrastination is that you do not find the project important anymore.
It is a good idea to take some time off to sit down and evaluate the projects you have lined up for yourself. It is important that your to-do projects are aligned with what you really want. If you ascertain that the projects do not fit you anymore, maybe it is better to discard them altogether.
Use the buddy system.
Sharing your goals – and the progress you are making, with a friend, is likely to make the process more interesting and fun. It will help you feel more accountable for your plans and goals.
You do not have to have the exact same goals. But if you do, both of you are likely to learn from one another’s experiences.
Having a buddy to discuss your plans and progress with will help spur you to taking action.
Look for a mentor.
Look for somebody who has gone through what you are going through. You are likely to learn from his experiences. Learn from what he went through, the people who helped him get to where he is, and the difficulties he was able to surmount. His experiences are living proof that you, too, can achieve your goals if you persevere.
Seek people who have similar goals. Connect with them.
Modify your work space, if necessary.
Make your work space conducive to being productive. Look at your work space. Does it stimulate you to work? Or does it make you feel so relaxed that your productivity suffers? If this is the case, you must try to revamp it so that you feel more inspired to work.
Make it a habit to reassess your work space every now and then. What inspires you now may not have the same effect after some time.
Draw up a detailed timeline and set explicit deadlines.
If you have just one final deadline, you are likely to procrastinate or to take your time. You will feel that you have a substantial amount of time to accomplish everything. You will just keep postponing taking real action – until it is too late.
When you work on a project, it is best to draw up a timeline that is detailed and meticulously planned. Break the project down into smaller tasks. Set a deadline for each one. This will impress on you that each small task is important – and have to be done by a specific date, if you want to finish the entire project on time. You know that if you miss out on a certain task, you will be putting your completion target off.
Don’t chastise yourself too hard when you fail to get your work done.
You will not always be able to motivate yourself as planned. If you fall short of starting to work on your goals as previously planned or fail to follow through, let it go.
Do not punish yourself. Do not dwell on feelings of regret or guilt. These emotions will drain you. They will also frustrate you and further stress you out.
The wise thing to do is to move on. Focus your energy on doing what needs to be done instead.
Engage in pep talk.
Coaches are known for giving their teams pep talks to arouse enthusiasm and boost the drive and resolve to succeed.
Give yourself this same vigorous and emotional talk. Talk to yourself. Motivate yourself. Tell yourself to calm down, to focus, or to try harder. This brief encouraging talk will inspire you, bolster your morale, and encourage you to work harder or to stay on track.
Take a break.
Once you get yourself to deal with the task you have been postponing, do not work on it non-stop. Take breaks to recharge. It is important to take breaks and include short-term rewards to avoid burn-out. Taking time out to relax will not only revitalize you; it will sustain your motivation to see the task through to the end.
Accept the fact that you are procrastinating.
When you put off a task to do something else, it is not always procrastination. Sometimes, you really have to evaluate your workload and re-prioritize. It is acceptable to set one task aside, especially if the delay is brief and for a legitimate reason.
On the other hand, if you are switching focus just because you want to steer clear of a particular task – and putting it off indefinitely, you probably are procrastinating. In this case, you have to face up to the fact that you are. Otherwise, you will feel no real need to deal with your procrastination.
Re-articulate your internal dialogue.
When you constantly tell yourself that you “have” or “need” to do something, you set yourself up to think that you have no other option. This can feel disempowering. It may even lead to self-sabotage.
If you want a put a more positive spin to your efforts, you should think and say that you “choose” to do something. This indicates that you “own” the task. You feel in control. You feel empowered.
Engage in positive “fantasizing.”
There is a “wrong” and a “right” kind of fantasizing.
The “wrong” kind entails dreaming bigger-than-life dreams and making grandiose plans. When you make it a habit to build castles in the sky, you tend to sabotage real and achievable goals.
On the other hand, when you engage in what the scientists refer to as positive visualization, you may be inspiring yourself towards accomplishing meaningful goals.
The difference lies in how you visualize your dreams. Research shows that people who fantasize about a goal - and includes a vision of how they are going to make that fantasy a reality, usually make their dreams come true.
For example, if you fantasize about gaining a winning physique – and visualize yourself eating healthy meals and going to the gym regularly, you are more likely to achieve your goal.
Scientists say that this type of fantasizing is likely to help you because of two significant elements. First, it includes a process that will help you direct your attention to the actual steps you need to take to accomplish your goal. Second, when you imagine yourself taking those steps and reaching your goal, you reduce your anxiety about the goal.
Hit the ground running with a to-do list.
It is difficult to get yourself to do something when you have no clear idea about what exactly it is that you have to do.
To start the day right, you should do your homework the night before. Before going to bed, get a pen and paper and write down a couple of things that you really want to accomplish the next day. Include the small steps the tasks will entail.
Get the list out the moment you start work. Get down to doing the steps outlined in the list.
With the detailed list right in front of you from the get-go, you can get down to business right away. You do not have to stare into space thinking about the tasks you have to tackle for that day – and probably thinking of reasons why you should shelve doing them for another day.
Use timers, planners, apps and other useful tools.
If you find tools helpful, you can make use of certain apps or planners designed to help you visualize your workload schedule and keep you on track.
You can use certain apps designed to help you break up your day so you can work and take breaks in fitting intervals. You can also use a plain old timer or alarm clock to assign a specific period of time in which to accomplish a micro task.
Learn to say “no” more often.
Procrastination can stem from having a surplus of commitments. Do not allow yourself to drown in an impossible sea of meaningless obligations. You have to focus your energy and attention to the tasks that move you towards your goals. You can do this only if you disregard those tasks that do not really matter.
This will require you to develop a sense of discernment. It also calls for some degree of courage. Saying “no,” however, is a learnable skill. Take the time to practice it and you will have enough time to do the tasks that really matter.
Deal with important tasks as they arise.
Do not allow important tasks to build up. If you do, you may eventually find them overwhelming. You will find it more difficult to tackle them.
You are probably procrastinating if you find yourself doing the following:
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