As easily as the Cambridge dictionary defines procrastination as “the act of delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring”, I bet one who deals with it would agree that it is definitely not that easy to handle. If you can quite start to feel a lump in your throat reading this, congratulations! you are precisely the person who needs to read this.
Though we know you are just reading this while procrastinating a work of priority, hail there. This might be a motive for you to kill your procrastinating habit and get going. And this read would definitely be more productive than your random search instincts like finding out if your headache indicates a brain tumor,
Before we discuss ways to beat procrastination let us first get to the base of it and understand what it is and the psychological mechanisms of why it occurs even when it comes with remorse, guilt, and all the negative emotions
Why Do We Procrastinate?
Most procrastination comes from the fact that we always have to feel inspired or stimulated to work on a task at a particular moment.
Procrastination isn’t always bad for us. It is the body’s automatic response to protect oneself by avoiding tasks our brains perceive as threatening. One of the ways your brain decides to handle this threat is by doing tasks that are less stressful, like how you avoid sitting down on that due assignment and rather scroll on your phone for no good reason
- The effect called the present bias is a significant additional factor. It is a phenomenon in human behavior that has been seen to cause procrastination. The present bias describes our propensity to be motivated more by short-term incentives than by long-term ones. This is why putting things off feels fantastic right now.
- Procrastination is also pretty common in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Those suffering from OCD have tendencies towards maladaptive perfectionism which leads to concerns about mistakes, doubts about actions, and an overall worry about external expectations causing one suffering from OCD, a procrastinator.
- A lot of adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have trouble getting things done. It can be tough to get started on work when you’re so easily distracted by external and internal stimuli, and it can be even harder if the task is difficult for you. One of the characteristics of the disorder that causes procrastination in people with ADHD is their difficulty managing their time.
If you can boil down any of the above-mentioned causes resonating with you, don’t be hard on yourself. It is workable, with a little willpower and help.
101 ways to beat procrastination
1. Just go and blatantly start the action-
The most obvious thing to kill procrastination is to start with the task without thinking hither and thither. Like Mark Twain once said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day”.
2. Break the tasks into small little manageable chunks–
Break your tasks into realistic bite-size chunks to be able to approach them better without getting overwhelmed by their vastness. For example, if I have to write up an article for a blog post I break it up into 3 large chunks, the topic research, the basic framework, and the final draft copy.
3. Set realistic goals-
Setting unrealistic goals makes your fear worse and none of what you intend to happen. Set a maximum of 4 to 6 tasks you wanna accomplish that day, or even less to begin with. Write them down. Do two tasks, but do them to your satisfaction.
4. Make up to-do lists the day before–
a lot of time is lost in deciding what is to be done that day, so it is best if you plan your days in advance. It saves you the hassle of deciding what to do and what not to do. Wake up, take a look at the look at the to-do list and go about it, simple! Ain’t it?
5. Pick the hardest task first
When you do away with the hardest task for the day, your brain does a little happy dance. The rest left are less challenging in comparison and won’t put you in a defensive mode.
6. Just do it for 5 mins –
Fight the urge to procrastinate, and sit with the work just for 5 minutes. After that, you are free to opt-out and go do whatever you feel like. But there comes the catch, once you start doing something, you might not hate it as much as you thought you would and it is not that difficult to finish. The initial momentum is what takes the most effort.
7. Stimulate your motivation–
give yourself doses of motivation to do the work you have been procrastinating on if you feel you can’t sit without being driven. If there isn’t a driving force, build one.
8. Set yourself instant gratification –
Your brain tends to be to motivated by instant gratification, so give it that. For tasks that have far-fetched outcomes, set up a small instant reward like a bar of chocolate, or an episode of your favorite Netflix series that awaits at the end of the completion.
9. Try and make tasks more enjoyable–
For example, when a chapter of a book becomes too boring to read, I refer to explanatory videos which are based on interaction-based learning. Sometimes sensory cues make your hectic work easier.
10. Make procrastination difficult–
Hold the bull by its horn. Make procrastinating difficult by putting away distractions where it is difficult to approach
11. Give yourself permission to make mistakes–
Don’t be an idiot to think you can not make mistakes, Humans are entitled to make mistakes, accept that. A better way to deal with mistakes is to keep room for correction. Cut yourself some slack to make mistakes.
12. Fool your brain by preponing the deadlines –
Did you notice how deadlines make you do your long pending work in a night? To avoid such tense situations, prepone up the deadlines and work towards them.
13. Set deadlines for work that don’t have deadlines –
Certain tasks have long-term benefits and thus have no such deadline, like the side course you are pursuing apart from your regular course of education. Set up a deadline of about 6 months to complete that.
14. Create a detailed timeline with specific deadlines–
Create a timeline ahead of about 6 months and list all the deadlines you have to meet in that given period of time. Your timelines must not be lenient – i.e., if you don’t finish a certain task that is listed for today, by today, it will jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way, it creates the urgency to act and you are able to beat procrastination
15. Build up your attention span–
This is what I actively practice, building up my attention span in small chunks of 10/20 minutes at a time. Suppose you put up a timer of about 25 mins to do work, for the next session set that up to 35 minutes and challenge yourself to sit through that.
16. Use time management techniques–
Use time management techniques to beat procrastination, like the Pomodoro timer, time blocking, and keeping an account of the hours in a day to see what exactly 24 hours look like in your life
17. Use the Eisenhower matrix–
The Eisenhower Matrix is a productivity, prioritization, and time-management paradigm that enables you to prioritize a list of tasks or agenda items by first classifying them based on their relevance and level of urgency.
18. Build a discomfort habit–
You can not always be comfortable, get used to a little discomfort in life. Me, I absolutely loathe paperwork, but somehow miserably I make myself go through that.
19. Create a sense of urgency-
Develop a sense of urgency to fool your mind to do the work. Urgency works wonders to beat procrastination
20. Use visualization technique–
Use visualization techniques to aid you with learning tasks and make them less daunting.
21. Know that nobody cares for your excuses–
That sick excuse you’re providing to your superior body is of no use, none of it will make them care for you any better than you not meeting deadlines
22. Have accountability buddy–
Sometimes humiliation does the job, so keep an accountability buddy who you can account for honestly about your day’s work.
23. Reclarify your goals in life-
If you frequently put off doing something in your life, consider whether this still supports your short- and long-term objectives. As you learn more about yourself, it is possible that you transcend your goals, but you don’t alter them to reflect this.
24. Get a vision board–
Draw up a vision board stating everything you wish to achieve and hang that in the range of your eyesight. Whenever you are procrastinating, look at that and ask yourself, if the certain engagement brings you any closer to what you envisioned.
25. Stop waiting for a perfect time–
This is complementary to people who strive for perfection. Know that now is a perfect time. Like Mother Teresa said “yesterday is gone, tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today, let us begin.”
26. Upgrade your acquaintance circle-
The people we are with influence our behaviors. Identify the people, friends, or colleagues who provoke you to incline towards a positive action – most likely the doers, hustlers, and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.
27. Tell others about your goals–
Telling others about your goals is a great way of using external push as leverage. When you talk about your projects to other people around you like your parents, friends, and colleagues, that creates accountability. And by the nature of people, they are bound to ask about the status of your work.
28. Pre-commit publicly-
This is more or less the same thing as above, it just involves a bigger circle of people. Announce your goals in your classroom or even post them on your social media account.
29. Change your environment–
If you are not feeling productive at your work desk try and change your environment, shift to a library from your home, or sit by a well-lit window to beat procrastination and increase productivity
30. Restructure plans that don’t work out –
plans and targets which are not accomplished are not to be forgotten, restructure them in your later schedules.
31. Stop chasing perfectionism–
There’s no such thing called perfection, all that there is a sense of pseudo-perfectionism. For instance, I was quite good in literature and language in my school days (no bragging intended), but for some reason, I never got a perfect score. The reason my teacher said, that there is always room for improvement. For all 15 years of my school life, I strove for that “perfect” but never got any closer until I realized it’s an illusion, it’s like a mirage, it’s there but not there.
32. Give meditation a try–
Have you given meditation a try if you are not being able to concentrate? What meditation does is raises your consciousness and help you stay in the present. When you stay in the present you concentrate on the immediate other than regretting the past or constantly planning about the future.
33. Give importance to your health–
Oh, I bet you this is a real deal, most times I feel sluggish and lethargic, and there are high chances my health is not at its best. The cues are subtle, but you have to understand what your body is trying to tell you.
34. Get your circadian rhythm straightened–
There’s a reason that humans sleep with the sun setting down and waking up with the sun rising. If you wanna be a cool guy sleeping the day? Know that it messes up your melatonin levels and natural sleep regulators which in turn affects your productivity. Try and avoid electronic screens an hour before sleep.
35. Exercise a few times a week –
Move those limbs a bit, and induce a little movement in your muscles. You would be amazed at how energetic you feel with regular workouts.
36. Get your vitals checked regularly-
Notice a certain drop in your energy levels? There are high chances that one or more of your vitals are on the err side. Get your iron levels, hemoglobin levels, vitamin D, thyroid, and diabetes levels checked at regular intervals
37. Try starting with basic supplements–
Introduce dietary and nutritional supplements into your regimen.
38. Stay away from addictions –
Stay away from addictions of all kinds, be it TV and Netflix to hardcore like substance abuse and alcohol.
39. Don’t be too harsh on yourself–
Beating procrastination also comes with killing the negative emotions attached to it. Take action but don’t be so hard on yourself that you start to have opposite repercussions.
40. Change your negative affirmations to positive affirmations–
Negative brings in negative and positive induces positive. Try changing your “Oh I couldn’t accomplish this, I’m a failure” to “I tried my best, will certainly do better the next time”
41. Take a break–
Breaks work wonders when there is burnout, take a break, rewire and get back
42. Change your mood-
If you’re irritated or frustrated, sit down, change your mood or wait for it to get better before resuming.
43. Adopt the two-minute rule-
Here’s what the rule by David Allen which says: if you can do an action in two minutes or less, tackle it at the moment — and don’t delay. Tackling it at the moment would help you beat procrastination.
44. Stop multitasking–
you can quite argue on the same but I feel the human brain is not hard-wired for multitasking. Do a single task at a time with the utmost concentration.
45. Assess your cause for procrastination–
Try and ponder on what exactly is the reason you procrastinate
46. Get treated for underlying medical causes–
In continuation to the above point if you think you have conditions that need to be looked at professionally like OCD and ADHD don’t hesitate to reach out for help
47. Play a game of roles play–
People occasionally discover that they do better when they are living out a particular identity. When you work, put yourself in “CEO” mode and conduct yourself as a CEO would, even if you are only handling emails or other seemingly unimportant tasks. Create your own modes that correspond to your lifestyle and your tasks.
48. Learn to say no-
Being able to say no to something you forcibly say yes to just because you can’t say NO can take you to heights. Having good barriers is a great way to have control over one’s life
49. Learn to challenge yourself–
Don’t be too comfortable. Constantly challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone
50. Take power naps–
Power naps of 5 -10 minutes in between heavy grinding are a great way to relax your brain.
51. Disconnect during your tasks–
When you are focusing on important tasks, just disconnect from the world, by all means, put away all your notifications and urges to digress in that period of time
52. Take note of your distraction triggers–
Try and track what exactly makes you want to procrastinate, what are the occurrences just before that moment, find out if that has a pattern, and address it to beat procrastination
53. Have a list of your go-to distractions–
List up all the things you get distracted by and make them less accessible in your work time.
54. Face your fears–
No fear remains a fear until you decide to face it.
55. Give yourself a small pep talk–
Don’t underestimate the power of a little self-talk to motivate your ass.
56. Create routines and habits–
Try molding yourself to certain routines and habits
57. Use apps and websites for your aid–
Instead of being a slave to technology, make use of it for your assistance, use apps to manage your time, website blockers, reminders, and planners.
58. Take inspiration–
Inspirations keep on fueling your motivation, don’t forget your daily dose of it
59. Read books on the topic–
There are n number of books on self-development and time management. Wanna procrastinate? Procrastinate by reading those. Some books that are suggestive: Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy, Getting things done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen,7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
60. Listen to instrumental music–
This is what I find very helpful while doing things that don’t require a cent percent of my attention, I listen to instrumental music without lyrics so that I don’t have to focus on anything other than just the tune
61. Wake up early –
Waking up early gives you a lot of room in your day to plan and act accordingly
62. Start your day as if you would if you had to go work in an office setup–
wake up, take a shower, wear clothes that you would wear out, and sit at a setup. This has a telltale effect on productivity if nothing at least better than being a couch potato and typing away.
63. Stay hydrated –
Drink water at regular intervals to keep you hydrated
64. Envision your future-
Envision your future about what it looks like with your procrastination and without it, what would you like it to be, and act accordingly
65. Take the decision–
Don’t fickle too much, just take the decision
66. Be disciplined–
Develop a sense of discipline and stick to it
67. Be determinant–
Be fiercely determined and stick to your determination
68. Develop a positive addiction–
Get addicted to productivity, wellness, to mindfulness
69. Use the 10 -90 rule for planning–
The first 10% of the time you spend planning will save you as much as 90% of the time in getting the job done once you get started.
70. Use the 80-20 rule–
The 80-20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, is a familiar saying that asserts that 80% of outcomes (or outputs) result from 20% of all causes(inputs)
71. Practice creative procrastination –
You have to procrastinate on something, therefore, procrastinate on small tasks (small frogs).
72. Apply the law of 3–
It states that whatever energy a person puts out into the world, be it positive or negative, will be returned to that person three times. You would get fruits 3 times the amount of effort you put
73. Upgrade your key skills–
Constantly upgrading your skills is a dominant factor in your productivity. Never stop learning. Get better all the time. It will keep the fire burning in you. The better you are at a task, the more motivated you are.
74. Identify your key constraints and eliminate them–
identify what hinders your productivity and makes you lean towards procrastination and actively eliminate them. Is it the notification from your social media, the sound of the Tv blazing from the other room, or a feeling of lethargy? Be digitally stranded the time you are putting into your work, go talk to the neighbor and let them know of your concerns regarding the TV sounds, and take a 5 min nap for all the constraints mentioned above. Do the needful.
75. Temptation bundling –
Temptation bundling is a concept that came out of behavioral economics research performed by behavioral economist and professor Katy Milkman at The University of Pennsylvania which states that you bundle a behavior that is good for you in the long run with a behavior that feels good in the short run. It is a pairing of a pleasurable indulgence with behavior that provides delayed rewards. It combats present bias by making behaviors with delayed benefits more instantly-gratifying. The basic format is: Only do [Something you enjoy] while doing [Thing you procrastinate on].
76. Being consistent–
consistency is the key, in the long run, any aid and ways to beat procrastination only hold viable if continued for a long time
77. Distribute it –
If something will take you considerable hours to complete, don’t sit down and try to conquer it all at once. You’ll get bored pretty quickly. Either break it up over a period of a couple of days or break it into chunks separated by different tasks within the same day. Either way, you want to make sure you’re not trying to focus on one thing for too long, it just becomes monotonous and your efficiency drops.
78. Incorporate mindfulness–
Being conscientious about the circumstance, you can develop self-compassion and forgiveness. Not only can being kind to yourself reduce procrastination itself, but it can also reduce some of the negative effects of procrastinating.
79. Stop overestimating–
It’s also important to acknowledge that we can often overestimate the unpleasantness of a task. So give it a try! You may find that it’s not as bad as you thought, after all!
80. Stop underestimating–
stop underestimating your power, to begin with, if you will to, you will do it.
81. Know that you are not alone– a large percentage of people suffer from procrastination and are actively battling it. Do not think of yourself to be alone and stressed out.
82. Be the master of your brain– Don’t let that monkey- brain of yours take control of yourself, make it do things according to your own will and judgment
83. Rephrase your internal dialogue–
The phrases “need to” and “have to,” for example, imply that you have no choice in what you do. This can make you feel disempowered and might even result in self-sabotage. However, saying, “I choose to,” implies that you own a project, and can make you feel more in control of your workload.
84. Act as you go–
Tackle tasks as soon as they arise, rather than letting them build up over another day
85. Join a community–
Join a community where other fellow procrastinators actively battle with it
86. Creating the desired ambiance in the room-
While light therapy is not a panacea for depression, it has been found to aid with some of the signs and symptoms, including fatigue, sleep issues, anxiety, moodiness, hopelessness, and irritability. You can remain calm and concentrated with the aid of mood lighting. When you feel depressed or if you have SAD, try using light bulbs with blue light in the afternoon, red/amber light in the night, and white light (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
87. A little competition with a fellow procrastinator–
Compete with a friend of yours who suffers from the same and see who procrastinates the least at a given task. The drive to win would make you beat procrastination
88. Manage your energy, later your time–
Push yourself when you have your daily peak productive hours, not when your energy levels are low take a nap or a walk and start working right afterward if you feel tired after a period of hard work, take a break and recharge your batteries if you’re emotionally irritated, talk to other people and calm yourself down first
89. Be lenient with acceptance–
Accept that sometimes you’re simply not in the state to be productive and that’s okay. We are all only human. You can’t just work hard constantly. Sooner or later, burnout happens.
90. Overcome the fear of failure–
In my case, this has been such a blatant example that it has taken me years to get away with it. I would immediately begin to ignore it as soon as I began to fear the outcome. It was such a knowledge that any effort I make will be for naught and won’t be able to prevent me from failing. This is a very negative attribute, I wholeheartedly urge you to come out of that feeling and start working without the fear of what result it will yield
Delegate the tasks which can be taken care of by others
Outsourcing is also similar to delegation where you hire a third party to perform your tasks
Start an automation mechanism in places where possible, like automate your recurrent emails, automate your bills, etc
94. Dissociate failure from one’s own worth –
Failure, my friend is the best thing that can happen to you in life, it shows you an aspect of motivation you never would get from something else. Once you fail, you would know what success actually tastes like. And failure is in no way connected to your self-worth, any number of failures does not and never will define your self-worth. Self-worth is what you decide for yourself and work towards it
visualize yourself being productive, being the best self you want to be, and one day you would be that.
96. Listen to a power song–
Pick a song that really gets you pumped up, and play it whenever you want to tackle something you’ve been procrastinating. The brain likes to have a trigger to create a new habit, plus you’re more likely to follow through when you’re feeling good in your body and mind.
97. You don’t have to finish everything-
you don’t have to finish up everything on that to-do list you made, for every 3 finished tasks if there is one unfinished, know that you are good.
98. Make it a game–
Oh how do I emphasize how fun this is, whenever I find a work monotonous I treat it as a game, like how many words can I complete in an hour, how many words are of good vocabulary and etc
99. Think about the consequences of procrastinating–
Think about the consequences of procrastinating, how much time will it take up in your life, what goals you will miss out on, and how will your life look 10 years from now if you go on like this. If that makes you shiver and you don’t want to suffer the consequences, go and put a stop to it, act accordingly to beat procrastination, and boast your productivity
100. Create a not-to-do list–
As important as a to-do list is for you, creating a not to do list to refrain you from doing things that waste your time, is equally important.
101. Believe in yourself–
Last and most importantly, believe in yourself, you are the one who can do it, and you have control of your own life and actions.
Any number of bio hacks and tricks are only possible with tenacity and an iron will. If you are attempting to understand that, you will. And the fact that you are reading this blog shows that you are making an effort to kill procrastination. Keep going, my friend; active efforts are not in vain.
Let us know in the comment sections if you think we missed something and also don’t forget to put in your valuable suggestions.
T.L. Morson and Associates, PLLC says
This is quite the list. There are many great ideas here and I’m sure I can find a few that will be more than helpful.