Alright, so there’s probably a nagging voice in your head telling you that you should be doing something else right now – not reading blog posts on the internet. Am I right? If so, at least give yourself some credit for reading an article that will teach you some productivity hacks. Kuddos for trying right?!?
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Luckily for you, procrastination is something you can overcome if you can develop the right mindset. Also, and this is a big one, sometimes procrastination is healthy! It allows you to think through problems before jumping in head first. Just make sure that you’re not procrastinating with every task that comes up. If that’s the case, then you’re just straight up putting things off.
Procrastination becomes a real problem when you start prioritizing non-important things over important things. Like if emptying the dishwasher suddenly becomes of paramount importance right when you’re about to start balancing your checking account. Or when a T.V. show becomes more important than meeting an important work deadline. That’s when procrastination is unhealthy and can cause you real stress and potential harm.
If you are a procrastinator, which I’m assuming you are since you’ve made it this far down the page, decide right now to commit to change. It’s time to be physically, emotionally, and mentally ready to tackle your procrastination habits.
Don’t forget to download the FREE “Productive Year” workbook from the box at the bottom of this post.
1. Ruthlessly Prioritize
Ruthless prioritizing is a tool for deciding which tasks deserve high priority and which need to be pushed down on the scale. When you are clear about what is truly important to you, prioritizing will become a breeze. You’ll be able to get more done because you won’t waste your time on tasks that simply don’t matter.
2. The (10+2)*5 Technique
This is a productivity hack developed by Merlin Mann. This technique breaks time into chunks. You work for ten minutes and then you take a two minute break. Do this five times and that makes up one hour. This gives you mini-breaks throughout the hour to look forward to. This is perfect for procrastinators because you can tell yourself, okay just do this for ten minutes! Just keep working towards that break instead of looking at the whole hour as one giant, looming chunk of time. Use a timer like this to keep track.
3. The Pomodoro Technique
This one is very much like the (10+2)*5. It also breaks time up into smaller, more manageable chunks, or pomodoros. The Pomodoro Technique has longer work times but also more significant breaks. The pomodoro productivity hack works well for tasks that may be mentally taxing, like studying or crunching numbers. In this technique, you’ll work for 20 minutes then take a five minute break. After every three 20/5 sessions you’ll do a fourth session of 20 minutes of work and then take a 15 minute break.
4. Make a Time Table
When you have a large task to complete, try making a timetable for each step that you must perform to complete the task. This is another way of breaking up large, looming tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. So for example, say you needed to write a 1000 word essay within one week. You could make daily timetables with one or two steps each, until the paper was finished.
So Monday may look like this:
9:00 – 10:00 am – Brainstorm or Mind Map
10:00 – 11:00 am – Internet Research
11:00 – 12:00 pm – Outline
Then Tuesday might look like this:
9:00 – 10:00 am – Review Outline, Make Changes
10:00 – 11:00 am – Sketch Rough Draft
11:00 – 12:00 pm – Begin Cleaning Up First page
Basically you just want to give yourself deadlines for completing small but important steps in the process. Achieving these small goals will give you motivation for completing the bigger project.
5. Involve a Jerky Friend
Okay this one may seem weird but hear me out. If you have something important coming up but aren’t super motivated to work on, try this. Recruit your jerkiest friend to hold you accountable. Make a bet with this person that you will complete X by a certain date or time. If you don’t, you have to pay this friend a certain amount of money, or de-dog poop their backyard, or something equally yucky that you just plain don’t want to do. This bet needs to be with a jerky friend because you need them to hold you up to the bargain. Don’t recruit a pushover, recruit someone who you know will annoy the living daylights out of you until you pay up. That should be motivation enough to get the task done.
6. Change Your Scenery
If you’re having a hard time starting or finishing a project, try changing your surroundings. Move your desk to face a different wall, change your chair, or even move your whole operation outside or to a coffee shop. Sometimes just a change of scenery can be enough to spark your motivation, or at least give you enough energy to keep pushing forward.
7. Become a Streamlining Queen
Constantly be on the lookout for shortcuts and time hacks. Look for ways to combine tasks, cut unnecessary corners, and outsource when you can. Make it a goal to do the most amount of work in the easiest and fastest way possible. Sometimes done is much more important than perfect. Work just to get it done.
8. Start an Exercise Routine
Exercise is the body’s natural answer to Prozac. Get your endorphins flowing with quick, circulation-improving exercise before it’s time to work on an unmotivating task. You will be more alert and have more energy to tackle the project. Try doing 25 jumping jacks, 10 push ups, and 1 minute of high knees before you get to work. (Or modified for your fitness level.) Just do something to get your blood moving. Doing a few yoga moves would be great too.
9. Eliminate Digital Distractions
This is a super important productivity hack. Turn off notifications for new emails, Facebook messages, Twitter mentions, etc. If you’re computer is constantly dinging you with fresh announcements, you’re more likely to be distracted and less likely to get your work done. Also consider putting your smart phone in another room. One study found that average users check their phones 150 times a day. When you remove mobile devices and gadgets, you can focus on your work without the constant interruption from notifications, calls, and text messages.
10. Create a Morning and Evening Routine
In the evenings, prepare everything that you will need the next morning. This will not only save your valuable time, it also forces you to think about the tasks you need to accomplish the next day. Visualizing your day will in fact help you accomplish more and be more motivated to actually do the things you need to do.
If possible, make your mornings as routine as possible. This means, try to do the same thing at the same time each morning. Not only will this make your mornings less hectic, you will also be less prone to forgetting or leaving things behind, like your phone or your gym bag.
11. Reward Yourself
Set up mini-rewards for different levels of achievement. Promise yourself a T.V. binge night if you complete the outline to a project. Tell yourself you can buy new boots if you finish the project by a set due date. You can even break this down into smaller rewards. Tell yourself you can have one piece of chocolate if you work for half an hour straight without stopping. The trick to this productivity hack is to make the rewards something that you really, really want but often deny yourself. That way the motivation factor is amped and you’ll be more likely to reach the goal.
12. Make a Story Board
Think of your work as a movie or cartoon and map it out visually. Use magazine pictures, computer images, or doodles that you draw and visually map out your project. These storyboard layout composition notebooks are perfect for visually mapping out projects. If you are a visual person, I highly recommend this productivity hack.
Alternatively, you could create a vision board that shows you what rewards you’ll have when the project is finished. If the project can bring you more money, put things on your vision board you want to buy with that money. Or put smiling faces on it if it will bring you more happiness. You can put motivational quotes on your board too. Just make sure to place it somewhere that you will see it often.
13. Organize Your Office
It’s hard to be super productive when you can’t find a pen! Take a day to really organize your workspace. Put like with like – all pens together, all tape together, etc. If you have time, also organize your desktop. Clean up your folders and delete unneeded files.
While you’re at it, spruce up your workspace with some fancier accessories. It’s hard to stay motivated when you’re working with boring or unfortunate office accessories.
14. Set Yourself Up for Success
Before you sit down to work, make sure that you’ve collected everything you need. Gather your snacks in advance, make sure you have plenty of pens and your printer paper tray is loaded. Consider moving your coffee maker into your workspace. Try to anticipate what you’ll need before you need it and have it prepped and ready to go. Think of all the time you will save!
15. See Your Schedule
Use a large white board or one of these fancy scheduling boards to write down your chores and tasks and place it somewhere you will see it. Don’t hide it, but put it somewhere visibly annoying. This way, your to-do’s will be in front of you so you eliminate the “I forgot” excuse. Plus, this productivity hack can involve other people in your household who can help you stay accountable.
There you have it, 15 productivity hacks for procrastinators.