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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

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How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

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1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

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My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

For more tips on how to eliminate your procrastination pit-stops, join the free Fast-Track Class – No More Procrastination. It’s a focused 30-minute session in which you will understand more about your procrastination behavior and get over it once and for all. Join it now.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

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Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

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Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

More by this author

Celestine Chua

Celestine is the Founder of Personal Excellence where she shares her best advice on how to boost productivity and achieve excellence in life.

42 Practical Ways to Start Working on Self-Improvement 11 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Results on Your Goals How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity 5 Reasons Why Being a Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect

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Last Updated on September 9, 2021

15 Easy Ways to Avoid Procrastination When Working from Home

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15 Easy Ways to Avoid Procrastination When Working from Home

Freelancing and working from home are becoming more and more common, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many assume that working from home can only bring positive change. Who wouldn’t want to work on their own schedule, get up later, and avoid the heavy traffic of a commute? However, once people begin to work from home, they see that it’s a bit different than they thought it would be and that procrastination at work can easily take over.[1]

It’s not that people lack enthusiasm or motivation. It’s simply that the pull of distractions is quite strong, and many aren’t prepared to face them immediately. They find themselves postponing tasks until they absolutely have to be done, hunting for snacks in the kitchen, dropping onto the couch “just for a second” to see what’s going on with their favorite TV show, etc. After just a few months, many feel that they are working all day and having almost less free time than before.

Fortunately, most of the major problems with productivity while working from home have to do with procrastination and distractions, which have some simple remedies if you’re willing to work on them. Here are some tips to help you stay on track and become more efficient.

Examples of Procrastination When Working from Home

Well, people who prefer working from home believe is a way of spending more time with family and escape the hell of having a boss breathing down their neck. However, what happens when you find yourself flipping from site to site, one YouTube video to another, changing your music, and watching countless movies that end up wasting hours of your time and affecting your productivity level.

Procrastination is a major cause of concern for everyone who works from home as they find themselves pushing deadlines backward. Learning to “eat that frog” isn’t easy after all. Getting stuck in that circle might cost the individual their job.

However, there are ways to solve procrastinating when you work from home. The solution starts with knowing why you procrastinate in the first place and we’ve outlined some of reasons in this guide.

Why do People Procrastinate While Working

No Clear Goal

A wise man once said – ” Procrastination is the grave in which opportunities are buried”. We couldn’t agree less but sometimes procrastination goes beyond self-control and willpower. Experts have proposed that one of the reasons people procrastinate is when there’s no clear goal in mind.

Trying to Move Mountains

People are likely to focus more when they have concrete goals in mind. For instance, it’s easier to procrastinate when we set goals such as “I want to write a book” or “I want to earn more money”. Having realistic options such as “I want to make $100k in August” or “I want to write 1000 words daily for the next 30 days” forces us to take actionable steps to make that a reality

No Shortage of Time

There are other reasons people are likely to procrastinate when they work for home and a few of these people have clear goals. And it happens when we feel there’s enough time to complete the task. For example, it’s easier to put off a task whose deadline is in a month than those that have to be submitted in a week.

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Accordingly, such people always have a thought of “I have enough time” hence they never get started. The problem with this approach is that the deadline slowly creeps in and they suddenly realize that they haven’t gotten started.

This is more reason why it’s better to handle tasks as they come rather than waiting till you’re motivated to take action.

Dangers of Procrastination at Work

Unfortunately, the habit of procrastination doesn’t go unpunished. You could have more tasks piled up which results in stress. This could have been avoided if the tasks were attended to as soon as they came.

Most bosses have labelled freelancers who procrastinate as “incompetent” which results in job loss and a long time search in finding a new one. If you own an online business, procrastination might affect your profit and a lot of opportunities pass by due to your inability to act immediately.

If you want to take control of your time, the tips mentioned here will help you do so. You will begin to priorities your goals more and act accordingly. Let’s jump right in

15 Easy Ways to Avoid Procrastination When Working From Home

1. Create Daily Goals

A survey conducted reported that people who set daily goals are likely to be more productive than those who don’t. For instance, rather than taking each day as it comes, it pays to write down the task you want to accomplish the minute you rise from bed.

There are several benefits of doing this. First, it’s registered in the brain and secondly, you will be willing to push yourself to achieve what you’ve written down on paper.

2. Break Tasks into Tiny Bits

Taking things one step at a time reduces procrastination. For instance, if you dream of writing 10,000 words eBook, putting down 1,000 pieces of words on paper for the next 10 days will bring the book to life. When you do this daily, you realize that the task doesn’t feel overwhelming and you can break free from procrastination.

3. Take Breaks in Between Tasks

Breaks are a way to keep you energized. It’s difficult to work 10 hours daily on a stretch without feeling overwhelmed. Breaks allow your brain to refresh and come back stronger. If you plan on working for 6 hours daily, it pays to take a short break after every 3 hours interval.

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There are times when a break can improve the quality of your thinking and speeds up the creative process.

4. Create a Home Office

Start by limiting the comforts of home[2] by turning a spare room into a small office. If you don’t have one, don’t worry. Just use a corner of the living or bedroom that has enough light during the day. In case you are a night owl, make sure to have appropriate lighting so that you don’t fatigue your eyes.

Before heading into your home office for the day, imagine what you may need for the next couple of hours. For example, put a bottle of water and a small snack on the desk so you won’t have to get up when you get hungry. Also, make sure you have a charger for both your computer and cell phone so you won’t have to go searching for them later. These can all cause distractions that can set you on a path toward procrastination.

You can also take a look at these 20 Easy Home Office Organization Ideas to Boost Your Productivity.

5. Use Productivity Software Apps

Since most work done from home involves using a computer or other piece of technology, getting distracted by unrelated sites throughout the day can be a huge barrier to productivity. There are now several extensions and apps you can use to limit time spent on specific websites, so if you find you often get distracted by YouTube, for example, put a limit of 30 minutes to keep yourself focused.

Also, consider creating a user account on your computer that’s going to be used only for work and delegate a specific browser for when you’re working in order to see all job-related bookmarks and tabs.

If you still have trouble staying on track, try to use time-tracking tools, such as Toggl, Tick and RescueTime. Many of them will generate a report so that you can easily track your work and how you use your time. If these don’t work, take a look at this article to find some other time management tools that may work for you.

6. Prioritize Your Tasks

Prioritization is essential when fighting procrastination. Most freelance work won’t have deadlines, so staying on task can be even more difficult. Therefore, figuring out which things are most important throughout the day is key.

Prioritization looks different for everyone. It can include a board with notes and stickers, a timetable in Excel, or a list in one of the various productivity apps out there. Once you’re able to prioritize your tasks, you’ll see how effectively things get done.

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7. Stop Comparing Your Results

Most often, when people work from home, it’s easy to compare your result to others. When your results don’t match up, it’s easy to feel disappointed and put off a lot of work. This is very common in sales.

Well, if you suffer from this, it’s important to appreciate every little step you take daily and stop beating yourself over other people’s results. This will limit your ability to get things done.

8. Read Books on Time Management

When you feel like every second is slipping away, it pays to read books on time management and habit formation. Books such as eat that frog, atomic habits, and the 5-seconds rule will arm you with strategies on how to eliminate procrastination and live a productive lifestyle. If those options feel out of reach, we have a number of useful tips that will help you with goal setting.

All the books were hand-picked because they contain actionable plans that can transform your life by a whole 360. The most successful people read 20 pages of a book daily and you can also do the same.

9. Turn off Social Media Notification

If you are like most people, a little beep sound from your smartphone can catch your attention and force you to look at notifications. When you set out to work, ensure your smartphone is set to “do not disturb” mode so those distracting beeps don’t steal your attention when you’re engrossed in your task.

Even better, you can keep your cell phone distances away when you’re working

10. Block out Nearby Noise

The notification sound from your mobile phone isn’t the only distraction to fight against. Distraction might come in the form of noises such as traffic sounds, the sound of running water, or loud laughter from your living room.

You can block out this noise by using noise-cancellation earbuds or cell phones.

11. Learn to Eat Your Frog

The first few hours you rise from bed are your “hour of power”. It’s easier to get things done during the early hours of the day. As we’ve found out, the hardest tasks are the most difficult to get started with.

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During your ” hour of power” ensure you address the difficult tasks first before moving to the simplest ones.

12. Learn to Forgive Yourself

It’s difficult to let go of the hurts and pain the habit of procrastination has caused. Do not expect perfection from yourself, rather try to be a better version of yourself.

13. Reward Yourself

Reward and punishment is an essential part of human psychology when it comes to motivation.[3] Rewards play an important role in forming good habits. Different rewards will work for different people, so identifying what you want as a reward is the first step. Are you motivated by money? Recognition? Free time? Snacks? Write these down and assign a reward to each task.

14. Avoid Multi-Tasking

Doing several things at the same time might result to a shift in attention. Hence, learn to finish up one task before jumping to another

15. Apply Consistency

Making positive changes is difficult, there’s always a temptation to go back to the old way things were done. It’s important to employ these tips for several days to see how it changes your productivity level. We recommend sticking to this routine for at least 30 days, to stand a chance of killing off procrastination

Final Thoughts

As you can see, you are in charge! Going from working in an office to work from home is a big change, and adjusting won’t happen overnight. It’s important to get started with some of these tips to keep you on track, and after a bit of time, you’ll find that you’re able to be more productive.

More Tips on Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Progressive Insurance via unsplash.com

Reference

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