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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

How to Overcome Procrastination and Start Doing What Truly Matters

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How to Overcome Procrastination and Start Doing What Truly Matters

Before we can solve the problem of procrastination, we must understand why we do it. There are a few basic reasons:

  • Feeling overwhelmed with a situation.
  • Given up hope that a situation can be changed or affected.
  • Afraid of failing.
  • Too “busy” to get the really important things done.
  • Can’t make a decision.
  • Overworked, tired.
  • Want to avoid work you don’t like.

Each of these can be reduced down to the pleasure/pain principle which says that we do things to gain pleasure and to avoid pain.

So how to overcome procrastination? Overcoming procrastination can be less challenging if you follow the methods below. Start doing things that matter, and jettison excess baggage in your to-do list that only serves to weigh you down:

1. Get Clear About What You Want in Life

Procrastinators, you’ll love this!

Take 20-30 minutes to do this quick goal planning exercise.

Write down all your goals in some or all of these categories: career, education, relationships, financial, physical, mindset, creative, spiritual, public service, travel, leisure, and other.

Once you have your list, then whittle it down to your top 10, then down to your top 5, and then your top 3.

Do this by asking yourself, “Can I live without this?”

Let your less important goals lie dormant on a “maybe” list that you can check on again in a few months. Focus on the important tasks first.

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Here’re some questions to inspire you to think about what you want: 7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

2. Tidy up Your To-Do List

Delete or delegate from your to-do list those things that don’t relate to your top 3-5 goals.

Just say bye bye. And don’t look back!

This is important to better time management because with limited time, it’s important to do only things that matter most, but not every single task at hand.

3. Link Tasks You Don’t Like to Your Goals

It helps to mentally (and in writing) tie these tasks to one of your main goals or values. This helps you to remind yourself how each task is related to the big picture.

For example, “Keeping a tidy and clean home and desk allows me to have clarity of mind which is something I highly value. By having clarity of mind I will be better able to work on my goals and have less anxiety.”

By linking the task to the pleasure of being able to think clearly, I now have a reason that will motivate me to take action.

4. Plan Your Day Each Day

This is not a big task. It should only take about 10-15 minutes of quiet time.

Do the most difficult and most important things first and work your way down to the easier stuff in the afternoon. You’ll feel really good if you do this.

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Focus on that to motivate you to wait to check email and such until after you’ve finished your first big task.

This article about setting daily goals can help you:

How Setting Small Daily Goals Makes You Achieve Big Success

5. Plan Your Week Just Enough

Plan your week just enough  to loosely schedule in some of the big things you know you want to get done.

Sometimes procrastination happens simply because a task is not scheduled.

Scrum could be a great method for you to try, so you can plan your week right.

6. Allow for Cheats and Get Rest

When you’re tired or have low motivation, take a break.

Don’t be so hard on yourself about the timing of a task and then you won’t try to escape through procrastination so hard in the future. Just reschedule and get back on track later or tomorrow.

Also, remember to check if the task relates to one of your goals. See #1,2, and 3 again!

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7. Just Do It, but Don’t Over Do It

We often put pressure on ourselves to do certain tasks more often than we really need to, such as cleaning, tidying and laundry etc. So give yourself a break and set a schedule for these things that is not overwhelming.

Do thing on a “need to do” basis and let go of the notion that you need to keep up with some perfect schedule. Ever heard of the business concept “just in time” inventory, well this is “just in time” task management.

8. Break Down Big Tasks Into Smaller Components

We procrastinate on tasks that are vague and nebulous because we don’t have clear instructions what to do next.

Take a few moments to think about how to break down a larger task and schedule it into your calendar in pieces. This is good for when you are feeling overwhelmed.

9. Get Help Making Decisions

Decisions are tough for me. I like to use the pro/con method and assign points.

I also recommend getting help from a friend that you know is good with making decisions.

Once you’ve made your decision, then break it down into tasks and schedule into your calendar.

10. Believe in Yourself and in Your Ability to Accomplish Anything You Want

If you’ve lost hope, know that you can turn things around.

Release the fear of failure. Failure is just a learning experience.

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Slow and steady wins the race. A little bit done every day adds up to a lot over a year.

If you have to, just fake your belief until it becomes real. Remember, you can do it!

11. Trick and Treat Yourself

Do you keep avoiding cleaning up your desk or some other big task, even though you know will make you feel good to get it done? If so, do this:

Invite a friend or family member over for a date to “tackle the dreaded task.”

All your friend has to do is sit in the room with you and make sure that you do the task.

If you want, you can let them help you, but it’s not necessary. After the task is done, you can treat you and your friend to either coffee, dessert, meal or movie, whatever!

Summing It Up

It’s useless to read through this article if you’re not taking any actions right after reading it!

So here’s a recap for you:

  • Know your most important goals and values.
  • Only do tasks that contribute to those goals and values.
  • Mentally link tasks to the pleasurable outcomes you seek.
  • Plan your day & week.
  • Do, but don’t overdo. Rest when needed.
  • Break down big tasks.
  • Get help making decisions.
  • Believe in yourself!
  • Trick  and treat!

And now, start with the first one on the list, what’s your goals and what do you value?

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

More by this author

K. Stone

The founder of Life Learning Today, a blog that's dedicated to life improvement tips.

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

10 Most Effective Apps to Help You Beat Procrastination

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10 Most Effective Apps to Help You Beat Procrastination

You sit down at your desk, open your computer, and set out to work on an urgent project. Just, hold on—one more Twitter notification to check before you really get started. If you don’t have a stop procrastinating app, you’ve just entered the procrastination rabbit hole.

Three hours later, you find yourself scrolling through Pinterest, color-coordinating bridesmaids’ dresses and butterfly-themed table decorations, even though you’re not getting married. Oops.

Procrastination. It is a scourge most of us struggle with—a hurdle on the way to leading a productive, fulfilling life. Especially now that many of us are confined to makeshift home offices by Covid lockdowns, we struggle to keep distractions at bay[1].

But how can you stop putting off important tasks? How can you really silence that pesky inner voice of distraction?

Fortunately, modern technology offers many apps to help you in your battle. Choose your stop procrastination app from the list below to keep you on track and eliminate distractions.

1. Focus@Will

    Based on neuroscience research, Focus@Will uses music to boost concentration and get you into a productivity flow. You can choose between different channels, ranging from Baroque piano and ambient music to Electro Bach and the funky beats of Alpha Chill.

    According to research, the app can extend your focus periods by 200-400%. It also offers a timer function and productivity tracker. A channel recommender helps you pick the right music for your needs, depending on your personality type, the kind of task you’re dealing with, and whether you’re struggling with mental health issues such as ADHD.

    Focus@Will is available for both Android and iOS and as a web app. Subscriptions start at $69 annually.

    Get the app!

    2. Focus To-Do

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      As a great stop procrastination app, Focus To-Do combines the Pomodoro technique with to-do list features. In case you haven’t come across it before, Pomodoro is one of the most effective productivity techniques. It’s built around 25-minute work sessions interspersed with 5-minute breaks.

      Focus To-Do allows you to define tasks, including subtasks and recurring tasks, and assign deadlines. You can then work through the items on your list one-by-one using the Pomodoro technique.

      The app is available on all major platforms, including smartwatches. Your tasks will be synchronized across devices. The basic app is free, and premium plans start at $2.99 per month, with a lifetime license option priced at $8.99.

      Get the app!

      3. RescueTime

        RescueTime boasts a rare 5.0 “outstanding” score by PCMag and is one of the most widely-used productivity tools popular with freelancers, designers, and developers[2]. It automatically tracks the time you spend on various websites and applications, and classifies them into categories. Using this information, you can analyze where and when you are productive and what the major threats to your productivity are.

        More importantly, RescueTime allows you to summarily block out distractions, which is excellent for Pomodoro sessions. You can also set goals, such as spending less time on your emails or social media, and RescueTime will automatically assist you in reaching them.

        The app is available on all major platforms and offers a free lite version, and its premium plans start at $6.50/month (billed annually). It also integrates with a variety of other productivity tools, such as calendar apps and Slack.

        Get the app!

        4. Forest

          As a gamified stop procrastinating app, Forest is a great way to motivate yourself to stay focused. Each time you start a focus session, you plant a tree in the app. While you work, it will grow on your screen. However, if you leave the app during the session, your tree dies off.

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          The goal is to motivate you to not use your phone, removing a significant source of distraction.

          By completing your focus sessions, you can grow an entire forest over time. This isn’t just visually appealing, but an uplifting representation of how much work you’ve managed to get done. Your forest has a real-life impact as well. The larger you grow it, the more “coins” you can earn in the app. And using those, the app team plants actual trees.

          Forest is available on iOS, Android, and as a Firefox extension. It’s $1.99, with optional in-app purchases.

          Get the app!

          5. Rocket 135

            For those overwhelmed by to-do lists, Rocket 135 allows you to prioritize your tasks. Rather than having to face multiple stressful, anxiety-inducing tasks per day, you pick one important project, three of medium importance, and five of low importance to complete.

            This app lets you customize basic list types, archive tasks, assign them to themes, and collaborate with other users. It synchronizes across devices and offers a limited free version. The premium version is available at $2.50 monthly or $25 annually.

            Get the app!

            6. CARROT To-Do

              Like Forest, CARROT To-Do is an iOS app that turns productivity into a game to beat procrastination.

              You can set yourself a simple to-do list and get rewarded with “fortune cookies” and several hundred unique rewards for completed tasks. But beware! Fail to complete your tasks, and you will lose your rewards or be leveled down. A unique feature of CARROT’s is that it is branded as having a personality, with an attitude to match. “I am your new taskmaster,” it declares.

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              The app comes at a one-time cost of $2.99, with some in-app purchases for different themes and icons.

              Get the app!

              7. Freedom

                If gamification isn’t your style, Freedom is a stop procrastinating app that offers a somewhat harsher approach to battling procrastination. It will block distracting apps and websites—synced across all your devices. It’s even possible to shut the internet out entirely if you have to focus on an offline project.

                The app can be downloaded for Mac and Windows, or installed as an extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. iOS and Android apps are also available. Premium plans start at $2.42/month (billed annually).

                Get the app!

                8. Momentum

                  With an aesthetic approach to productivity, Momentum is sure to keep you focused. This browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge combines beautiful nature wallpapers, a distraction-free time display, inspirational quotes, and a prioritized to-do list.

                  In the free version of the app, you can set yourself daily priorities and other tasks. The premium option, at $3.33/month, also includes a Pomodoro timer and syncs with popular task managers.

                  Momentum is perfect for arriving at work after a stressful commute, or for creating an atmospheric setting in your (home) office.

                  Get the app!

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                  9. Take a Five

                    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!

                    10. Mindly

                      If a single look at your growing, deadline-laden to-do list sends you into a cold sweat, Mindly is the solution for you. This app helps you organize the deadlines, lists, and reminders cluttering your mind in a three-dimensional manner.

                      You can create an infinite number of circles that connect related ideas and projects. Each circle can be color-coded, tagged with summaries, and annotated with emojis. Harnessing the power of associations, you can keep your inner universe organized.

                      Mindly syncs across devices. It offers a limited free version for Android and iOS that can be upgraded to premium for a one-time $6.99. Furthermore, a desktop app is available for Mac at $29.99.

                      Get the app!

                      Final Thoughts

                      Procrastination, once started, is hard to stop, but these apps can help you get back to being productive and completing all of those to-do lists you’ve been avoiding. Find which one works for you and get started with it today.

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                      More Tips on Stopping Procrastination

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

                      Reference

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