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We’ve all been there before, where we choose to do something that we enjoy rather than a chore that isn’t as exciting. We all want to stop procrastinating and get it all done. Unfortunately, finding the motivation to do so doesn’t readily happen even with a tough-love approach. “How to stop procrastinating?“, you ask.
Sometimes it’s not that you don’t want to do it. Instead, you have so many things on your plate that you feel overwhelmed. For instance, the pile of clothes in the corner is not going to fold itself, and the stack of bills has to get paid somehow. While all I want to do is work on my business and manage my budget for next month.
After some trial and error, I’ve found a couple of ways to stop procrastinating, which can help you develop the self-discipline to succeed.
Procrastinating vs. Laziness: What’s the Difference?
Contrary to what your parents may have you think, procrastinating is not the same as laziness (For the record, you are not a quintessential self-regulatory failure). Laziness is one’s unwillingness to work. On the other hand, procrastinating is continuing to defer a task later and not necessarily inaction.
People procrastinate to do things that they are excited about or motivated to do while delaying a job regardless of its importance. For example, if I had to choose between doing employee reviews or spending time with my children, I’d always choose spending time with my kids!
What about doing the reviews after the kids go to bed? Not so exciting. I’m more motivated to fold the laundry. However, if I’d let the dishes pile up with nothing better to do, then that would be laziness.
How to Stop Procrastinating
1. Create a List and Prioritize Your Tasks
Create a physical “To Do” list to relieve the burden of recalling everything else that needs to get done. I feel like there are always a million things that I need to complete. Sometimes, keeping track of my tasks is more challenging than actually doing them.
I’m a visual person and need to write things down. For that reason, writing down all my tasks on a physical list is a lifesaver.
However, it’s not enough to knock out one task after another. Some jobs may require attention sooner rather than later. Therefore, after forming your list, the next step is to order the list, starting with the important task first to the least important task.
You can base importance on the due date or if other tasks depend on it. I like to be creative by color-coding my priorities.
2. Break Up Large Tasks Into Smaller Ones
To-do items with broad and general descriptions, such as “declutter the house,” don’t offer a clear path to accomplish it. Also, it can feel daunting, overwhelming and affect your mental health. It’s no surprise then if this item falls down the priority list.
The solution is to break up large tasks into much easier tasks or smaller steps with precise descriptions. For example, if the overall goal is to declutter your house, you can create a more accurate sub-goal, such as “remove unused toys from the playroom.”
Although this can increase your list’s length, it makes accomplishing each one more attainable with the added satisfaction of getting stuff done.
Additionally, there are several time management tips. One, in particular, that can help with productivity is the Two Minute Rule.
The rule states that a new habit should not take more than two minutes to do. So, if the goal is to clean the kitchen, then a minor task should be “wipe the table.”
3. Limit Number of Tasks For a Set Period
Another way to stop procrastination is by limiting the number of tasks for a set period.
I know we wanted to complete everything on our to-do list yesterday. But I’d be crazy to believe that I can get my work done in one day. It’s an added pressure to not only worry about what needs to get done but also when.
Assign yourself only two jobs to get done for the week and nothing more!
For example, if the overall goal is to organize the kitchen, choose only two subtasks out of your list and focus on completing them for the week. These two sole subtasks can be “remove expired items from the pantry” and “recycle unused containers.”
Over time, you may adjust to the number of tasks you want to take on and for what period. If you notice that you begin to regress in your productivity, consider extending your period or decreasing the number of tasks for that set time.
4. Avoid Distractions
It can be challenging to get things done when you have distractions around you, including your environment.
For example, completing my employee’s reviews is the number one priority. However, I can see that there are dishes that I need to put away, and my kid’s laundry needs to get done. It’s hard to focus on my main tasks when I see those items staring back at me.
To start working better, go to a coffee shop or a library to get you out of the house. And, if you can’t leave your home, go to a space that isolates you. My husband teases me when I isolate myself in the corner of our room and says I look like I’m in “time out.” I’m just trying to work better.
Our environment is not the only distraction. Our phones and laptops can distract us as well. We live in a time where the internet easily connects everyone.
Once you hear your phone make a notification, you almost feel enslaved to check it. You can check your phone’s settings to see how long you’ve been on it. Don’t feel guilty. The first step to progress is acknowledging our shortcomings.
As a solution, first place your devices on airplane mode, or you can turn off your devices. There are also apps you can install that set a timer for you from checking social media.
For those who can’t contact me on social media late in the evening, now you know why!
5. Start Your Tasks Early
How many times have you hit the snooze button (especially, if you have a night shift job), and it’s already time for lunch? Nothing beats a warm blanket in the morning. Unfortunately, that blanket is keeping you in bed and preventing you from meeting your goals.
The sooner you start your day, the more time you have to get things done and avoid waiting until the last minute! And, waking up early in the morning is half the battle of getting started. To avoid a procrastination problem, you also need to go to bed early and recharge yourself so you can start taking action!
6. Interchange Between Desired and Undesired Tasks
Change up your priority list and mix one high-priority thing with any item that you want to do. Avoiding procrastination doesn’t necessarily have to be painful.
You can get burned out knocking out items on your “to-do” list, especially if they are tasks that you don’t particularly enjoy. This strategy is an excellent way to keep you motivated, combining fun with the not-so-fun.
7. Don’t Focus on Perfection
Don’t let perfection prevent you from moving forward. I’m not saying do a terrible job, but don’t exert your energy on something that won’t give you a return on your investment.
For example, when renovating a kitchen for our rental properties, I choose laminate countertops over quartz countertops. Not only is laminate more cost-effective, but it’s also readily available to pick up and install, allowing me to move on to other parts of my project.
8. Share Victories With Motivators
Don’t forget to lavish in your victories regardless of your tasks’ difficulty. Surround yourself with people who support your cause and who can motivate you with positive affirmations to keep going. And, you don’t have to always talk about work. Sometimes you need a break like a girl’s weekend out.
When my husband and I started blogging, we felt like there were always 20 things we wanted to get done. Realistically, that wasn’t going to happen.
Fortunately, we’re part of a blogging mastermind group called The Money Mix Insiders, where we have unlimited access to support. We’re never shy to share our victories as they recognize all our hard work and even uplift us when we feel like we struggle!
Many people would love to finally stop procrastinating right now. However, overcoming procrastination is easier said than done. It’s easier to eat when you’re bored than do work that you don’t love to do.
For that reason, you have to remember your “why” and your long term goal. It’s essential to understand the overall big-picture if you want to overcome procrastination and start getting things done.
What are you trying to accomplish? What is your end goal? Would you instead make your side hustle your main hustle?
Whatever strategy you employ to stop procrastinating, don’t forget to treat yourself and give yourself “me time,” even if it’s five minutes or 15 minutes. Sometimes you might just need a brain dump too!