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15 Useful Tips To Defeat Procrastination, Once And For All

15 Useful Tips To Defeat Procrastination, Once And For All

Do you procrastinate at home, work or school? Are you tired of wasting time and want to get things done once and for all? Whether we care to admit it or not, we all procrastinate from time to time. It’s just a part of human nature!

Fortunately, there are ways to defeat the beat of procrastination. These fifteen tips will help you get started in the right direction.

1. Request an external deadline.

Do you do you work better when you’re working under a deadline? Even if you do set deadlines for yourself, you might find it’s not enough to help you get things done. Why not switch things around and ask for an external deadline instead? If you’re working with others, ask when you need to complete a task or project. If you’re working alone, ask a close friend or family member to set an arbitrary deadline. This way, you have a deadline and can be held accountable for your actions.

2. Break away from people who are bad influences on you.

Hanging out with people who help you procrastinate, or otherwise distract you from your responsibilities can be tricky. You may voluntarily want to spend time with these people, but you may find it’s harder to get things done when you hang out with them or when they are around. Consider limiting your time spend around these people when you need to accomplish tasks, when you are under deadline, or when you are otherwise finding it difficult to focus on your work.

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3. Update your work materials or equipment.

An old computer that takes forever to load, a pair of scissors that makes cutting paper a chore, a broken garage door… You might not realize it, but your reluctance in using a particular piece of equipment, might be preventing you from finishing your work. Think about it for a moment. Do you tend to avoid particular tasks or chores because you absolutely cannot stand using a particular tool or piece of equipment? Try either updating, sharpening or replacing this obstacle so you can get on with your work.

4. Eliminate distractions in your immediate environment.

Do you know what distracts you as you work or when you are procrastinating? You might always find something to do such as checking Facebook or Pinterest, watching television, checking your emails and so on. Sounds familiar? Reduce temptation as you work by purposefully eliminating or reducing distractions. In the examples above, you could disconnect from the Internet, log off of your accounts and email, or try working in a completely different environment.

5. Work together with a friend or colleague.

If you’re having trouble sitting down so you can actually get your work done, try working side by side with a friend or colleague. You can schedule a time to work and each bring a piece of work which you’re having a difficult time completing. Sometimes all you need to get your work done is a bit of companionship and the knowledge that someone else is working on something they don’t particularly want to work on either.

6. Change your environment.

Are you a bit too comfortable when you work from home or at your office? Maybe things are the other way around and you are wholly uncomfortable. Perhaps things are a bit too noisy, too quiet, too cold or too hot for your taste. If this is the case you might want to shake things up with a change in scenery or in your immediate environment. You could try working in a coffee shop, in a local park, in a library or another area of your home or office.

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7. Promise something before you create it.

Perhaps you’ve been meaning to write a blogging tutorial, deliver a motivational speech to your weekly volunteer group or a basket of home-baked treats for a charity bake sale. Instead of letting things drag on any further, make a promise to deliver something before you actually start working on it. This not only sets a deadline, but also holds you accountable in front of others. There’s nothing left for you to do but get to work.

8. Get outside the front door.

Sometimes all you need to get moving with your work is to simply get your body moving. All you have to do is turn your attention from your mind to your body, and put your body into action. Let’s say you have to run some errands. Instead of fussing about it, you could just put on your shoes and coat, pick up your bag or purse, gather up any related items you’ll need, open the front the door and step outside. It would be silly for you to turn around at this point in time as you’re now literally one step closer to completing your task.

9. Choose three simple tasks to work on right now.

Are you overwhelmed with a large project? Instead of procrastinating any further, spring into action by breaking your work down into smaller, more manageable tasks. What project do you have going on right now that seems to be overwhelming? What three small tasks could you do right now? These really can be simple things, such as placing a phone call, doing a quick bit of research online, or making sure you have the right materials to begin your project.

10. Learn a new skill.

When was the last time you learned a new skill to help you with your work? For example, you might be procrastinating when it comes to working on your company’s website because you don’t know anything about SEO. Educating yourself about something, even the smallest bit of information, can make you feel more competent…and also knowledgeable. It’s always okay to feel a bit scared or unsure when you’re working on something new, but you shouldn’t let it prevent you from getting your work done.

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11. Set aside a specific amount of time to do something.

This is an oldie but a goodie: set a deadline for your work. Let’s say you have a personal project you’d like to complete, such as putting together your family tree. However, you never seem to get around to do it. You could take action by setting a final deadline for the project and entering in specific amounts of time in your calendar for you to do your research.

12. Layout all the tools you’ll need to begin.

Get a jump on your work by pulling out all the materials or tools you’ll need to work on a particular project or task. Once you take everything out and set everything up, there’s nothing left for you to do but to begin. When it comes to finally baking a cake for your Aunt’s Mary’s birthday, simply pull out the flour, eggs, butter, sugar, baking soda and powder, preheat the oven, grease the cake pans and get baking. You’ve already put in so much work getting things ready, you might as well finish the task at hand.

13. Figure out why you’re procrastinating.

Do you know why you’re procrastinating? You might feel lazy, bored, scared and unsure of yourself or any other number of emotions. However, it’s quite different when you actually identify the thing that is the source of your procrastination. Be honest with yourself. What do you feel? Why are avoiding your work? Once you hone in on the issue at hand, you can better find a solution that is tailored to helping you solve your problem.

14. Attack your work first thing in the morning.

Make the most out of your mornings and take on any particularly troublesome work first thing. You’ll be freshly rested, energized and ready to take on the day and can channel this energy into finally achieving that which you’ve been putting off for week after week. Once you’re done, you’ll have your entire day ahead of you, free and clear.

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15. Just do it!

Sometimes in life you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do. Don’t think twice about the tasks or work you need to complete. Tell yourself, “I’m going to do this,” get your materials ready, take a deep breath and dive right in. You’ll feel a lot better knowing you triumphed against procrastination and finished what you set out do.

How do you know when you start to procrastinate at work, home or school? What task or item are you looking forward to finally crossing off your to-do list? Leave a comment below.

Learn how to complete any overwhelming project effectively with these tips here.

Featured photo credit: katie ruth via compfight.com

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Rashelle Isip

Blogger, Consultant, and Author

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Last Updated on April 22, 2021

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.

Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work

In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.

One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.

Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.

Motivation Is Not the Answer

How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?

If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.

We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.

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Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.

Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.

How to Work Hard by Working Smarter

Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.

1. Define What a Win Looks Like

In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.

Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?

Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.

When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross[1]. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.

4 Steps to Define a Win
  • Know the outcome you desire.
  • Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
  • Write the outcome down.
  • Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.

Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.

As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.

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Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.

2. Evaluate Your Activity

Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.

Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.

Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.

Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:

  • Do now
  • Plan to do it later
  • Delegate to someone else
  • Delete it

Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:

  • Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
  • Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
  • Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
  • Does this activity have to be done at all?

Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.

3. Prioritize Your Calendar

If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.

First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.

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It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell

Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey

Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.

It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.

4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next

We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.

Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.

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Best Morning Routine to Prepare to Work Hard

    But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.

    “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu

    Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.

    Use these questions to reflect on your day:

    • What went well?
    • What didn’t go well?
    • What can I change?
    • What do I need to start doing?
    • What do I need to stop doing?

    The Bottom Line

    Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.

    Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:

    “Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”

    Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.

    That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.

    More on Creating Healthy Routines

    Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Balance Careers: Interview Question: “How Do You Define Success?”

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