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15 Useful Tips To Defeat Procrastination, Once And For All

15 Useful Tips To Defeat Procrastination, Once And For All
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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 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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