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15 Productivity Hacks For Procrastinators

15 Productivity Hacks For Procrastinators

There are more than six billion people in this world and I am willing to bet that the majority of us are probably procrastinators. It is just an easy habit to fall into. Think of procrastination as if it were like quick sand. It is easy to stumble and sink into and hard to get out of. Not to worry though, here are some tips that can help pull you out of the procrastination pit.

1.Set an abundant amount of alarms.

As a procrastinator, you all know the feeling of waiting until about fifteen minutes passed your alarm to actually get up. Set several alarms to force you out of bed and to give you time to transition from morning yawns and sighs to being ready for a new day. Also, make hitting the snooze alarm harder to hit to make you get out of bed with each alarm.

2.Write things down!

It is best to start out with a dry erase calendar to remind you of what you are needing to do. Big bright letters or bold black letters are going to be best to make sure it catches your eye when you walk by. Keep it up there and cross it out as you complete the tasks you must finish.

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3.Set things out.

To save you some time, try setting the things you need the night before, as oppose to the day of. It gives you time to start your day off right instead of frantically searching for something in the morning and pushing everything on your schedule forward.

4.Minimize distractions.

Having the TV on while you clean, or while you are doing homework works for a few people, but more than likely it takes more time. If you’re like me, you probably stop a few minutes here and there to actually watch what is going on the screen rather than working on an assignment due in a few days. Try putting music on if you need white noise in the background and place it further from you. This will help keep the procrastinator in you from grabbing your phone to “change the song” and ending up on facebook.

5.Reward yourself.

Remember when you were a child and your parents rewarded you for doing simple things every once in a while? Remember how excited you got? It helps out to reward yourself after completing that paper that was due or cleaning your house. Set aside a DVD or a slice of chocolate cake for you to enjoy after your tasks are completed. It works! Trust me!

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6.Set time aside to do activities you do when procrastinating.

It is important to set time aside for mindless news feed scrolling, game playing, and sleeping. Even though we are super humans, our brains need rest every once in a while. Set time aside to just lay around. Set a timer and give yourself about fifteen minutes

7.Snack on food that gives you energy.

Stay away from heavy snacks that make you sleepy and lazy. Grab an apple or an orange and enjoy mother nature’s pick me up. You will feel better and your body will be more energized to get tasks done.

8.Minimize your To-Do list.

Instead of trying to accomplish a huge goal all at once, break it down into little goals. For example, instead of trying to re-arrange and clean the whole house by next Tuesday, break it down by room each day. Clean the kitchen one day, the living room the next day, etc. It will give you a list that will seem do-able and not so overwhelming.

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9.In your office/study area/ work area set the clock 10 minutes fast.

This is for the ones that like to wait until last minute to start making dinner or getting ready. It won’t give you too much time, but it will at least give you a head start on things.

10.Get up earlier.

There are a lot of people that get more done in their day than I do in mine. If you think you are not going to have time in a day to get everything done, set your alarm to wake up earlier. You will give yourself an extra two to three hours that you usually don’t have to finish all that needs to be done.

11.Take breaks.

It is important to give your brain a break when trying to finish something like a paper or a take home test. Take ten minutes here and there between each hour to stand outside or grab a snack.

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12.Don’t sit down right after work.

We are all guilty of it and we all can’t deny that we do this. Sitting down after work when there is a lot to be done is a huge mistake for us procrastinators. We sit down and everything we needed to do is either out the window or an extreme inconvenience from then on to finish. Our bodies get comfortable, and our brain starts to shut down.

13.Have an organized friend be your mentor.

Ever heard of “if you lie down with dogs, you get fleas?” It is usually used when someone is hanging around bad company, but it also works on the opposite side of the spectrum too. If you hang out with someone who is organized, does everything in a timely manner, you will slowly start to as well. It can go either way though, so make sure you chose wisely.

14. Use Post-It Notes

When you don’t see the dry erase board telling you what to do, place post-it notes on the things you do walk by daily. On the fridge would be an ideal spot and it would be perfect to remind you to have a healthy snack before your meeting in an hour. It will also remind you to do little things like “finish cleaning the guest room” so you can check it off the list.

15. Accept it.

On the days you find yourself still in bed binge watching Netflix just remember, you are not perfect and neither is anyone else. Sometimes we need those kind of days. The keyword being sometimes.If all else fails, accept it. Accept it and get help. Remember, it takes two weeks for something to turn into habit and a month for something to be a regular routine.

Featured photo credit: Gradeeation- Andrea Van Orsouw via flickr.com

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Margielyn Musser

Event And Volunteer Coordinator / World Traveler

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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