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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

How to Beat Procrastination: 29 Simple Tweaks to Make

How to Beat Procrastination: 29 Simple Tweaks to Make

We all procrastinate. Sometimes it’s not a bad thing, but it can turn into something evil and nasty if we aren’t careful.

So, how to beat procrastination?

Try these simple procrastination beating techniques to destroy this deadly foe:

1. Get up and Move

One of the best ways to “change the channel” of procrastination is to change your scenery.

Rather than sit in front of your computer or TV all day, get up, do some stretches, jog in place, do pushups, and move until your frame of mind has changed.

2. Set up Reminders

Setup a daily (or hourly) reminder that you should be working on something or at least not wasting your time (unless you have time to waste).

You can also set up reminders that give you motivational quotes. Some inspirations for you: 30 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work

3. Get a Motivation Buddy

There is nothing like having someone on your side when it comes to making your goals a reality.

If you start to slip into procrastination, your motivation buddy will get you back in the game.

4. Make Yourself Accountable

You can do this with people around you or even with your motivation buddy above. A great way is to announce your change publicly and be vocal about it.

Hit the social networks, your blog, write letters, whatever it takes to make yourself more accountable to getting work done.

5. Create Something Every Day

No matter what it is. Artwork, photos, videos, a journal, some code, anything that gets you into a creative mood and gets you working.

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6. Wake up Early

The nicest part about waking up early is that it is quiet and still. You can concentrate on a few big tasks as soon as you get up and get a bunch of work done that would have taken many more hours during the bustle of the day.

If you find it difficult to become an early riser, take a look at this article on how to wake up early: How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic Throughout the Day

7. Go to Sleep Early

You can’t wake up early and work if you don’t go to sleep early. We need to recharge and being tired is definitely a motivator to keep procrastinating.

8. Clean and Clear as You Go

Sometimes we see how big a mess is in our lives and rather than doing anything about it, we procrastinate.

If you spend 15 minutes a day or just clean and clear things as you go (email, physical cleaning, tasks, etc.) the load of things to do isn’t as big.

It could be hard to figure how to kickstart decluttering, so here’s a guide to help you: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

9. Cut the Cable

Sitting in front of your TV isn’t a good thing (all the time). Beat procrastination (as well as save some money) by getting rid of your cable.

10. Just Do It

We have all heard the excuses. So, rather than making up new ones, just hunker down and get to work: The Nike Guide to Overcoming Procrastination

11. Schedule Time Blocks

If you know that some tasks are coming up as due and you have a lot of work to do on them, take out your calendar and schedule some time blocks. This will give you a set time to work and help you beat procrastination.

Learn how to make it work in this guide: Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks

12. Follow a Task List

It’s hard to get stuff done when you don’t know what to get done. Have a task list with you to make sure that you have the right things to do at the right time.

Make sure you won’t be making any of these major daily to-do list mistake.

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And here’s The Right Way to Make a To Do List and Get Things Done.

13. Have a System

We recommend GTD (Getting Things Done), because, you know, it’s the best: Why Getting Things Done is the Best Productivity System For You

14. Don’t Check Emails

One of the worst things that you can do when starting to “work” is checking emails. Checking emails first in the morning isn’t good for you. It will put you in an “non-action” mood.

Instead, pull out your task list and work on a big task first. Check email later.

15. Get Rid of Social Networks

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, everything — Turn them off completely to beat procrastination. Focus on the task at hand.

16. Time Yourself

One good way to get to work is to set a specific time for yourself to work. Say, 25 minutes (ie. Pomodoro Technique).

After the set amount of time, rest and do whatever you want for a little bit. Then, work for a set of time again.

17. Track Yourself

One of the best ways to know where you are spending your time and find free time to beat procrastination is by tracking yourself. There are a host of apps for doing this: 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools

Find your weaknesses and change them.

18. Automate When You Can

If you hate doing some menial on your computer, then try to automate it whenever you can. It will save you time and allow you to concentrate on more important, interesting things.

How to know if you should automate something or not? This article will give you the answer: To Automate or not to Automate Your Personal Productivity System

19. Create a Playlist

Jam out to some music to beat procrastination. Create a “beating down procrastination to a pulp” play list that puts you in a state of flow with your work.

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Want some playlists ideas? You can checkout this Spotify Playlist and this article: Productivity Music for Focus (Recommended Playlists)

20. Identify and Face your Fear

Most times, we are afraid of something when we procrastinate. Try to find your fear and and face it. Then you can start creating and working.

What fear is holding you back? Try to look into your fear and face it: Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How To Tackle Them

21. Realize It Will Never Be Perfect

If you can’t work on something unless it is perfect, then you should find a way to leave earth.

Nothing is perfect. Perfectionism can secretly screw you up.

Make something real and awesome. That will be great enough.

22. Become Mindful

Know what you are doing at all times to beat procrastination. Don’t get stuck in a mindless rut of web surfing, channel flipping, comment flaming, balderdash. Be aware of your surroundings.

Mindfulness can improve your focus and productivity.

23. Set “Goals” for the Day

At the beginning of each day, identify a handful of things that you want to accomplish. Some say three things. It depends on how large the tasks are.

Set a limit for yourself and work on each of them until they are done, here’s how: How Setting Small Daily Goals Makes You Achieve Big Success

24. Give Yourself a Break

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are having a tough time beating procrastination. Remember, you are human and we love to sit and stew in our own uncompleted mess of work sometimes. Just work hard to get out of it.

In fact, taking a break helps with your productivity, here’s why: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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25. Stick with Tools

You are reading Lifehack because you love the idea of productivity and productivity tools. I’m writing for Lifehack because I love them too.

Trying to find the perfect productivity tool can be an excellent way to procrastinate. This list of tools will be very useful for you: 10 Best Productivity Tools to Get You More Time

26. Entertain Yourself

Go to a movie, a play, an art museum. Getting away from work is a great way to beat procrastination as well as refuel your creative energy.

27. Work Less

One reason we procrastinate is because we are trying to do too many things at once. Stop multitasking.

Identify key projects and complete those first. You won’t feel overwhelmed and will be able to get to work.

Less is more is the fundamental theory of productivity.

28. Have Some Quiet Time Every Day

We are constantly plugged in to the digital world. We constantly have music or sound on. It can be overwhelming and stressful, causing us to tune out of work and life.

Give yourself at least 15 minutes of quiet time every day to refocus and be with yourself. I’d recommend you to try some of these ways: How to Find Time for Yourself

29. Don’t Settle

Don’t think that “you are just lazy” and that “this is the way you are”. It doesn’t have to be and you don’t have to let it be. You can beat procrastination!

Bottom Line

So here’re the 29 ways you can try to beat procrastination. Pick the best one for your current situation and then get back to work.

If you want a detailed guide on how to stop procrastinating, don’t miss this: What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating)

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

More by this author

CM Smith

A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

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Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

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Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

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2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

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6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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