How to Stop Procrastinating (and Actually Get Stuff Done)

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Procrastination Pro: The 21-day System to Stop Procrastinating


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Procrastination Pro was designed by a team of self-help experts, writers and psychologists. They set out with the mission to create the most powerful procrastination-busting system ever developed and the response has been amazing!

This program is not just a book

Procrastination Pro is a 21-day self-help program designed specifically to break the habit of procrastination. It educates you, gets you to analyze your thought patterns, gets you to write things down, and literally forces you to develop new habits through repetition.

This is a one-of-a-kind program like nothing else you’ve ever seen!

Here’s how it works…

A 21-Day System to Stop Procrastinating

Procrasti

A 21-Day System to Stop Procrastinating

Procrastination Pro breaks the habit of procrastination by assigning you a simple task to complete every day for 21 days. All the tasks were designed to help you stop procrastinating. Each task is simple, easily achievable and takes about 15 minutes to 20 minutes.

By dedicating a small amount of time to overcoming procrastination once a day for three weeks you will break the habit of procrastination. We guarantee it!

Here is a sample of how it goes…

Day 1) Read Part 1: Understanding Procrastination (Est. time: 30 mins) … … Day 4) Writing an intentional statement – to yourself – that you will overcome procrastination. (Est. time: 15 mins) … … Day 7) Identify and put in writing the things you do when you procrastinate. (Est. time: 20 mins) Day 8) Analyzing the excuses you use not to do your tasks. (Est. time: 15 mins) … … Day 14) How to change the way you think / How to think when there’s something you know you should do now instead of later. (Est. time: 15 mins) …

We can’t tell you too much more than that… It’s important that you only take it one day at a time — you’re not supposed to work ahead and you’re not supposed to know what’s coming next!

But what we can tell you is that each day was designed to help you understand and analyze the reasons why you procrastinate and as the course progresses you will learn how to defeat habit of putting things off.

The program forces you to face the facts of your life.. and it shows you what to do to change the path you’re on.

Simply follow the steps and you’ll become a more productive person.

It’s that easy.

Here’s What You’ll Get…

A Complete Understanding of Procrastination       A Complete Understanding of Procrastination
  • Understand the causes, the different types, how the habit is formed and more.
  • Why will-power is not what you need to succeed.
  • Why you fail and why the cycle repeats itself.
  • Learn why mistakes are critical and necessary.
  • You’ll even learn that some procrastination is even good.


How to Change Your Thinking and Your Actions

How to Change Your Thinking and Your Actions

  • The single most critical step required to achieve any goal!
  • Understand how to free yourself from destructive thought processes.
  • How to crash through the barrier between where you are now and where you want to be.
  • How to reward yourself properly to celebrate your personal successes.
  • Discover what "goals" are all about. Most people think they have goals but what they really have are dreams. Understand the difference between the two.


How to Make the changes Stick!

How to Make the changes Stick!

  • Don’t let your momentum slip away..
  • How to make your improvements permanent.
  • How to keep getting better.

9. Take a Five

Breaks are essential. Unfortunately, they are also

Breaks are essential. Unfortunately, they are also procrastination pitfalls. A quick five-minute breather can only too easily turn into an hour wasted on Facebook.

This stop procrastinating app, Take a Five, helps you avoid that. You set a timer for however long you want your break to be and open a tab. Once your time is up, the app will automatically close this tab and remind you to go back to work. No more going down scrolling rabbit holes.

Take a Five is available for free as a web app.

Get the app!

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How to stop procrastinating

In order to stop procrastinating, you first need to set your goals, and then identify how procrastination will prevent you from achieving them. Next, you need to create a plan of action based on this information, and then implement this plan, while making sure to refine it as you go along.

In the following sections, you will learn more about each of these steps, so that you will be able to use this approach as effectively as possible.

Set your goals

The first step to overcoming your procrastination is to set your goals.

When you do this, it’s crucial to make sure that your goals are as clear as possible, since you are more likely to procrastinate when it comes to goals that are vague, compared to goals that are clearly defined.

For example “be more healthy” is a relatively vague goal, and you are therefore more likely to procrastinate when it comes to pursuing it than you are when it comes to pursuing a more concrete goal such, as “drink only water and avoid eating fast food for the next month”.

Similarly, a goal such as “start exercising” is relatively vague, and is therefore more likely to lead to procrastination than a goal that is more concrete, such as “go to the gym 3 times a week, and work out for at least 30 minutes each time”.

In addition, when setting your goals, you also want to make sure that those goals are achievable and meaningful:

  • ‘Achievable’ means that your goals should be realistic enough that you can actually accomplish them.
  • ‘Meaningful’ means that your goals should be substantial enough that they lead you to make notable progress.

For example, the goal of writing 5,000 words for your thesis each day is meaningful but is generally not achievable, since most people can’t write at that rate, which is why such a goal should be avoided. Conversely, the goal of writing 5 words each day is certainly achievable but isn’t meaningful, since it will take you too long to finish your thesis at that rate, which is why this type of goal should also be avoided.

In comparison, the goal of writing 500 words per day is both achievable as well as meaningful, which is why it represents a good goal to set for yourself.

Of course, different people might choose different rates of progress, and there isn’t a single rate of progress that works for everyone. As such, the most important thing is to find the rate of progress that works for you, in your particular situation.

Overall, the first step to overcoming your procrastination is to set your goals. These goals should be clear, achievable, and meaningful, which means that they should be well-defined, possible to accomplish, and significant enough to help you make notable progress.

Once you set your goals, you can move on to the next step of this process, which is to identify the exact nature of your procrastination problem.

Identify the problem

If you want to successfully solve your procrastination problem, it’s important to first understand the exact nature of the problem that you’re dealing with.

Specifically, there are three main factors that you should consider when assessing the nature of your procrastination:

  • When you procrastinate. This involves asking yourself in what situations do you procrastinate. For example, do you tend to procrastinate more when you’re working from home compared to when you’re working in the library? Do you struggle to finish tasks after you’ve started them or do you struggle to get started in the first place?
  • How you procrastinate. This involves asking yourself what you do when you’re procrastinating. For example, do you browse social media, play video games, watch TV shows, go out with friends, or find small and unimportant tasks to complete?
  • Why you procrastinate. This involves asking yourself what’s causing you to procrastinate. For example, do you constantly find yourself being distracted, or do you feel so overwhelmed that you don’t know how to get started?

For an example of how to consider these factors, imagine a scenario in which you’re taking a class where you need to hand in a series of assignments throughout the semester.

Each time you get a new assignment you sit in front of the computer in your room (the ‘when’), but instead of working on the assignment you find yourself wasting time on the internet (the ‘how’), because the assignment is so boring that you can’t find the motivation to start until shortly before it’s due (the ‘why’).

It’s important to note that, in this situation and in similar ones, you might often end up promising yourself that you’ll get started soon, or that next time will be different, despite the fact that the same thing happened in the past, and that you never really did anything significant to change your behavior. The main reason why this happens is that people wrongly assume that procrastination is just about willpower, while also wrongly believing that next time they’ll be able to exert more willpower and change their behavior, despite the evidence to the contrary.

However, by taking the time to clearly identify the nature of your procrastination problem, you can then figure out a valid way to deal with it, instead of just hoping that things will be different in the future.

Note that a tool that could help you figure out why you procrastinate is the guide on the psychology of procrastination, which contains a comprehensive list of the reasons why people procrastinate, with the most notable of these being the following:

  • Rewards that are far in the future.
  • A disconnect from your future self.
  • A focus on future possibilities, together with an unjustified optimism about the ability to achieve them.
  • Feelings of overwhelm.
  • Anxiety.
  • Perfectionism.
  • Fear of evaluation or negative feedback.
  • Fear of failure.
  • Self-handicapping.
  • A perceived lack of control.
  • Lack of motivation.
  • Lack of energy.
  • Task aversion.
  • Prioritization of short-term mood.
  • Distractibility.

If you’re not sure why you procrastinate, then you should read the guide on the topic and identify the reasons for procrastination that describe you the best, and then return here and figure out how to build a plan of action that takes these reasons into account.

Create a plan of action

Once you’ve set your goals and identified the nature of your procrastination problem, you can create a plan of action that will allow you to stop procrastinating and start getting things done.

To create a plan of action, you need to figure out which anti-procrastination techniques you should use, and how to use them. These techniques, which are listed in the next section, fall into two main categories:

  • Behavioral techniques. These techniques involve directly modifying your actions, by helping you instill positive behaviors and avoid negative ones. Examples of behavioral anti-procrastination techniques include breaking large tasks into smaller ones and removing distractions from your work environment.
  • Cognitive techniques. These techniques involve directly modifying your thoughts, by helping instill positive thought patterns and avoid negative ones. Examples of cognitive anti-procrastination techniques include visualizing your future self and focusing on your goals instead of on your tasks.

Some techniques can involve a blend of behavioral and cognitive aspects, and it’s not crucial to understand the distinction between these two types of techniques. Rather, the important thing is to understand the general idea behind anti-procrastination techniques, and specifically that you can overcome your procrastination by instilling positive behaviors and thought patterns while eliminating negative ones.

In general, each technique is likely to help you accomplish at least one of the following things:

  • Make it easier for you to get started. For example, leaving the document that you need to work on open on your computer before you go to sleep will make it easier for you to start working on it once you sit down at the computer the next day.
  • Make it easier for you to keep going once you’ve started. For example, putting your phone on silent mode and out of sight reduces the likelihood that you will be distracted by notifications while you’re working, which will make it easier for you to focus on your work.
  • Make it harder for you to avoid working. For example, turning off the WiFi on your computer and phone removes the temptation to procrastinate on social media instead of writing your paper.

You can use any combination of techniques that you want, and you should pick the ones that fit you best given your particular situation, since different techniques will work differently for different people, and will even work differently for the same person in different situations.

As such, make sure to identify the nature of your procrastination problem before figuring out which techniques you should use in order to solve it. As you go along, try to see which techniques are working for you, and then eliminate those that don’t, while experimenting with other techniques that you haven’t tried, in order to find new beneficial approaches.

Finally, keep in mind that if this all feels like too much at first, remember that imperfect action is infinitely better than no action at all.

As such, if you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, just pick a single technique that you want to work on for now (if you’re not sure which one, go with the first one on the list: ‘break large tasks into smaller ones’).

Later on, once you feel more comfortable with the situation, you can choose to implement additional techniques if you’d like.

2. Create the Right Work Environment

People who have ADHD often are most productive in unconventional surroundings. Instead of wearing earplugs to ensure silence, you may find that you get more done when listening to loud music.

[Quiz: How Seriously Do You Procrastinate?]

If you work best under pressure, but still turn in projects late or exhaust yourself by pulling all-nighters, set your own deadline for completing portions of the project. This way, you can still work under pressure to finish each portion “on time.”

Do it: If you’re taking ADHD medication, it’s generally best to schedule difficult tasks for times when your symptoms are fully covered.

More Tips on Stopping Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

Experiment and reevaluate

It’s important to keep in mind that there is no ultimate cure for procrastination: procrastination is a complex problem, and different people will benefit more from different solutions to it.

This means that there isn’t a single right way to get yourself to stop procrastinating. Rather, the best approach to dealing with this issue is to try and understand your procrastination as best as you can, and to then try out different solutions, until you find the ones that work best for you.

As such, you should think about the techniques in this article as the various tools and weapons that you can use in your personal fight against procrastination, and then figure out which ones you want to keep in your arsenal and which ones you prefer to discard.

2. 😠 Why Do I Procrastinate?

Psychology suggests several theories for why people procrastinate. However, none of them is considered a universal one. It is a good practice to find out your procrastination style. Knowing what is wrong is halfway to finding a solution.

  1. Fear of success or fear of failure. This social theory says that some people are afraid of praise and criticism. Does it bother you if your essay is a successful one, and it will be read aloud? Are you scared of receiving a D? Then this is your case.

  2. Perfectionism. It is about overpreparation. You delay the task by the endless search for extra materials. You study the subject field for days on end, but do not write even a word.

  3. Spirit of defiance. Some people dislike being told what to do. They prefer making up their own schedule and living according to their gut feeling. In many cases, it is not a good practice.

  4. Low personal utility. If an activity does not promise a reward in the near future or is uncertain, we procrastinate. When the mark for an essay does not considerably change your total result, you will postpone it.

Choose productive ways to procrastinate

Procrastinators typically favor instant gratification. Everything else is a problem for another day.

Naturally, one way to battle procrastination—especially when it comes to mundane tasks like scheduling social media posts—is to find a way to pair what you need to do with something you’d rather be doing.

Listen to music or a podcast, watch your favorite movie on Netflix, do something else that doesn’t require your full attention. Find some way to whistle while you work.

Another strategy is to practice structured procrastination: embracing procrastination and opting for a productive alternative to whatever it is you’re putting off.

Just because it’s not “what you’re supposed to be doing”, doesn’t mean it’s not productive—like reading a blog post to learn a new skill instead of doing the dishes, or building your ecommerce business instead of finishing that report for your boss. But, whenever possible, limit yourself to tasks that contribute to the same goal as the thing you’re putting off.

Instead of staring at a blank screen trying to come up with a name or tagline for your business idea, why not use that time to do something else that’ll bring you closer to your goal? Like shopping around for the perfect theme for your online store

Remember to take breaks

Whilst this might sound counterproductive at first, you need to make sure that you take regular breaks in order to fight off the urge to procrastinate. The key to these breaks, however, is to make sure that they don’t get out of hand.

This is a harsh lesson gained from the basic principles of the Pomodoro Technique – although I’d read articles such as this one by Kate Barlotta, detailing how important taking a break is for productivity, I was a skeptic until our team started using Pomello.

Just by taking a five minute break every twenty five minutes, I noticed a cloud in my mind lifting. A quick refresh every half an hour was, in my case, just the ticket for maintaining sharp focus on the task at hand.

Tips

First up, you need to plan out your breaks in advance in order to avoid taking them early. You could use a tool like Pomello to do this (which automatically tells you when to take a break), or just set an alarm on your phone when your breaks are, and then another alarm to tell you when to work again.

One of the best ways I’ve found to space out your breaks is to take your work in two-hour chunks. Every half hour you have a five-minute break, then every two hours you take 15 minutes. Rinse and repeat until lunch, where you can have a good half hour before getting cracking again.

Second, having a break doesn’t mean going from staring at a spreadsheet to staring at cat videos or a Facebook feed. Entertaining as those may be, the whole point of a break is to give your mind a rest from what you’ve been doing for the past half hour straight.

If you work at a computer (which I’m guessing the vast majority of you do), get away from any kind of screen altogether. No phones, no gaming, no TV, no computers. Your head needs a break from staring at one thing, otherwise you’ll end up going stir crazy by lunchtime.

Summary: How to Not Procrastinate

Learning how to stop procrastinating can sometimes feel like an impossible task, but you can do it. 

Remember, you can escape the procrastination spiral of doom by practicing two new beliefs: 

  • We must know that our mood doesn’t affect our ability to function – we can (and must) still act, regardless of how we feel.
  • We understand that, despite the initial discomfort, taking action and feeling productive is the only way to improve our mood and feel better.

To make things easier as you practice stopping procrastination, follow these seven steps:

  1. Define your tasks and put them in order of priority. Then forget about all of the tasks except the first one.
  2. Identify why you want to do the task at hand – and don’t forget it.
  3. Don’t try to fight procrastination. Put your effort into doing the task.
  4. Don’t fantasize about the result. Instead, visualize the process of doing the task.
  5. Cut distractions mercilessly.
  6. Forgive yourself for procrastinating – be kind, let go, and start fresh.
  7. Start small – commit to just five minutes. Take a breath, and start.

To finish, here’s a motivational quote by Epictetus, the Greek philosopher:

“Now is the time to get serious about living your ideals. 

How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be? Your nobler self cannot wait any longer. Put your principles into practice – now. Stop the excuses and the procrastination. This is your life! You aren’t a child anymore. 

The sooner you set yourself to your spiritual program, the happier you will be. The longer you wait, the more you’ll be vulnerable to mediocrity and feel filled with shame and regret, because you know you are capable of better. 

From this instant on, vow to stop disappointing yourself. Separate yourself from the mob. Decide to be extraordinary and do what you need to do – now.”

Do you have any procrastination tips? What’s your “why”? Let us know in the comments below!

Eliminate potential distractions

Procrastination is an odd beast. What works for one person may wreck the workflow of another, and so a little experimentation is part and parcel of the process to improve your productivity. This is especially true of finding the “right” kind of distractions to keep around you whilst you work.

“Surely there’s no “right” kind of distraction”, I hear you cry. Well, what I mean by that is that people perform better when exposed to different environments, and that you need to find the right one for you. For starters though, there are a few general rules of thumb which I’ve taken from both my university days and several articles on procrastination. First, never open any social media accounts, Youtube, email accounts or anything else non work-related unless you have either carved out a set time to reward yourself with these sites, or you absolutely have to in order to work.

These are the “wrong” kind of distractions; ones which take your attention away from the task at hand and wreck any chance of settling into your ideal workflow.

Second, try working in several different locations to see what fits you best. Although I work just fine sitting at my desk at home, on slow days I take a walk to the local coffee shop to give myself a productivity boost, just by having many other people and a low hum of noise around me at all times.

Third, if you’re working at home you need to make sure that everyone in the house knows what your work hours are. Maintaining a train of thought or workflow is hard enough alone without everyone and their mother (literally) walking in to ask you if you’ve found this, or can vacuum that. You might work at home, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to focus.

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4. Just Do It

Just starting a task – even if it’s begun poorly – makes it easier to follow through. Next time you find yourself avoiding something, take a “first sloppy step.”

If you need to write something, for example, start by typing random letters on the page. It is gibberish, but at least you will no longer be looking at a blank page.

Create last-minute panic in the present

One of the reasons we procrastinate is to experience the thrill of racing against the clock. Somehow we’ve conditioned ourselves to think we do our best work during those final moments leading up to a deadline. 

These “near deadline experiences” force us to make decisions that we would otherwise put off and to work at peak efficiency. Because, well, we have no other choice.

One way to induce last minute panic months in advance is to set due dates well before your actual deadline to deceive yourself into completing tasks earlier.

If false deadlines don’t work, break your workload down into smaller tasks and set a timer as you attempt to finish each one. Racing against the clock is a good way to create pressure when there is none.

1-Click Timer is a simple chrome extension that pits you against a timer to get things done.

Any timer will work, but the point here is to help yourself stay focused on the task at hand and simulate the pressure of cutting it close. If something “should only take an hour”, this is one way to ensure it does.

Types of Procrastinators

Procrastination styles can overlap and collect around one of four themes. Once you recognize your style of procrastination, you can take steps to stop it.

Self-Doubt

These people feel there are rigid standards about how thing ought to be done and they fear they will fail. They second-guess themselves and delay taking action.

Discomfort

This person avoids activities or tasks that will cause distress, discomfort, or anxiety. Of course, the act of dodging an activity doesn't make it go away, so tensions mount because of this avoidance.

Guilt

The person feels guilt over undone tasks. Rather than correct the lack of action, they procrastinate so that they do not have to face the guilty feelings.

Habit

This person has procrastinated so many times, it becomes an ingrained response. They no longer think about why they do it; they feel it's just a part of themselves. It becomes an automatic response to say, "This is too hard or "I'm too tired," or to laugh it off as a character flaw.

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