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10 Powerful Hacks to Overcome Procrastination

10 Powerful Hacks to Overcome Procrastination
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I will do it later. That is the refrain of the procrastinator. Unfortunately, later never comes, or when it does arrive, it comes with panic and the need to rush. Neither is a good thing.

Procrastinating steals productivity and can cause a variety of negative consequences. So, how do you stop procrastinating so much? You can begin by applying these ten hacks to your life.

1. Revamp Your To-Do List

to do list

    Your to-do list should probably be a lot shorter than it is. Why is that? If you already know you are going to do a particular task, do not bother writing it down. Instead, limit the items on your to-do list to the tasks that tempt you to procrastinate.

    The simple act of writing these jobs down can have the psychological effect of making your need to finish them even greater. After all, it does suck to end the day without crossing things off your to do list.

    2. Identify Your Procrastination Source

    look for

      If you find yourself putting off a task, try to figure out why. Are you lacking energy? Is the task too intimidating? Are you afraid that you will not do an adequate job?

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      Identify the reason why you are procrastinating, and you might be able to solve the underlying problem. Then, you can get back to being productive.

      3. Set a Timer And Get to Work

      set timer

        If you have ever tried to get a child to clean their room, you might have set a time and encouraged them to beat the clock. Believe it or not, this often works for adults. In fact, there is an entire productivity and time management philosophy that is known as the Pomodoro Method.

        This involves setting a timer and working in bursts of 25 minutes with 5-minute breaks in between.

        The idea is to spend the 25 minutes working at a furious pace on the task at hand and then rewarding yourself with that small break. It is much easier to work if you know you have a break coming up. You can also compete with yourself to get more done during each work spree.

        4. Tackle The Miserable Tasks First

        sunset girl

          There are two factors that have a big impact on procrastination. The first is the time of day. The later it is, the less likely you will be able to push through that urge to put things off.

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          The second factor is the misery factor. Knowing this, try to structure your day so that you will work on those tasks that seem like drudgery. Save the tasks that are easier or more enjoyable for the afternoon. Your tired brain and body will appreciate it.

          5. Take Planned Breaks Throughout The Day

          relax

            If you are a procrastinator, you may not be taking enough breaks. That is right! Your problem may not be that you spend too much time relaxing, but that you spend too little. The issue is that many people will take lunch and work breaks, but when they do, they stay in work mode.

            How many lunches have you taken as you read work related emails? How many breaks have you spent talking to a co-worker about a current project? Take your breaks, and make sure that you spend them truly disengaged. Eat, relax, surf the net, take a walk. You will come back prepared to knock out the next task on your list.

            6. Make a List of Commercial Break Tasks

            Ben & Cat Photoshoot

              Think about all of the jobs that you put off in a given day. How many of them can be accomplished during a television commercial break?

              Chores such as switching over laundry, taking out the kitchen trash, wiping down the counters, and feeding the pets can all be finished in the time that a few commercials run during your favorite shows.

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              Even if you do not watch television, you can use this technique to push yourself into getting up and just doing it.

              7. Break Big Jobs Into Smaller Tasks

              folders

                If you try to tackle a huge project, the intimidation factor alone can make procrastination seem very attractive. For example, rewriting the employee manual seems like an albatross of a task that could take weeks to finish. Break that down into smaller tasks that you can chip away at one at a time, and suddenly the job seems easier:

                • Write 200 words of the employee manual introduction
                • Think of titles for each section
                • Send email to company present to clarify policy on tardiness

                Don’t these smaller tasks seem much more ‘doable’?

                8. Take Care of Yourself

                yoga

                  Do not assume that your procrastination issue is a laziness problem. You might simply have drained your energy reserves. Help yourself stay on track by getting enough sleep, eating enough healthy foods, and getting at least a bit of exercise.

                  If you are feeling particularly lethargic and unmotivated, talk to your doctor. Your body could be struggling with a vitamin deficiency or even depression. When you are healthier, procrastination will often become less and less of an issue.

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                  9. Reward Yourself

                  play games

                    If you want to stop procrastinating, give yourself a reason to get back to work. Reward your own accomplishments by treating yourself. For smaller tasks, you can create a list of small rewards such as a five-minute break to play a favorite game on one of the top sites for gaming or a small amount of desert.

                    If you tackle something that was particularly difficult, then make your reward bigger. Get that big project knocked out, and maybe you have earned a Friday night out on the town.

                    10. Go Off The Grid For a Day

                    work place

                      If you are like most people, electronic distractions can be a real source of your procrastination. It is easy to put tasks off in favor of hanging out on Facebook. It is also much more tempting to avoid getting things done when you ‘have to’ respond to all of those emails and messages.

                      To combat this, consider taking yourself off the grid every so often. Switch your devices to airplane mode, let people know that you will unavailable for the day. Then, put your head down and start plowing through all of those tasks that you would normally avoid. This is a great technique for getting your offline tasks finished and out of the way.

                      Conclusion

                      Procrastinating is a bad habit that limits your productivity and can carry a variety of other negative consequences. Fortunately, you retrain yourself and learn to drop or modify the behaviors that can lead to putting tasks off.

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                      The next time you feel tempted to delay an important job, try applying a few of these techniques. Before long, getting up and getting things done will be just as deeply ingrained as procrastination. This is when you will know that you have truly beaten your procrastination habit.

                      Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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                      Dante Munnis

                      content manager

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                      Last Updated on July 21, 2021

                      The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

                      The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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                      No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

                      Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

                      Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

                      A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

                      Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

                      In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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                      From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

                      A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

                      For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

                      This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

                      The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

                      That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

                      Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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                      The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

                      Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

                      But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

                      The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

                      The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

                      A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

                      For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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                      But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

                      If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

                      For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

                      These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

                      For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

                      How to Make a Reminder Works for You

                      Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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                      Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

                      Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

                      My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

                      Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

                      I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

                      More on Building Habits

                      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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                      Reference

                      [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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