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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Beat Procrastination: 29 Simple Tweaks to Make

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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. You can also try out goal setting which will help you focus on your task.

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

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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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Published on January 14, 2022

How to Break the Perfectionism-Procrastination Loop

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How to Break the Perfectionism-Procrastination Loop

You’re probably full of the usual impetus to make changes in your life as the new year lies before us. At the time of writing, we’re at the dawn of a new year. Bellies full and rife with lethargy, we’re all likely sat around (in the West at any rate) contemplating our moves for the next 12 months.

This is, of course, prompted by our arm-chair assessment of the year just gone. Did we achieve the goals we set out for ourselves this time last year as we nurse our splitting sides and slip into yet another food coma?

No! Of course we didn’t, and I’m not speaking from a hyperbolic or purely anecdotal point of view. According to a 2016 study, of the 41% of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions, by the end of the year, only 9% feel they are successful in keeping them.[1]

Is it because of procrastination or perfectionism?

Is Perfectionism And Procrastination Holding You Back From Achieving Goals?

The failing rate of New Year’s resolutions is 91%! A big part of that is how we set our goals. What these studies often cite as a predominant reason for failure is the setting of unrealistic goals. But I think this speaks to something else, namely that we’re not properly connecting to or aligning with our goals — this is where perfectionism and procrastination come in.

Perfectionism is just fear manifesting itself as a mental block. Not fear of failure and/or social ostracisation, so much as fear of change. Our subconscious is set up to favor the status quo. All it knows is that your choices, up until now, have resulted in your survival. Change is just rocking the boat and risking an unknowable outcome (or so it thinks).

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This is what’s at the root cause of your perfectionism and procrastination. You might claim to be a perfectionist, but what does that really mean? Do you mean that you won’t stop working on something until it is, in your opinion, perfect? Or do you mean that you don’t embark upon an endeavor until you can guarantee that the outcome will be perfect?

If you fall into the latter camp, you might consider that this perfectionism-procrastination loop is just an excuse—a manifestation of your deeply rooted subconscious fear of change.

Put it this way:

I think you could substitute the word “unrealistic” for the word “vague,” and you’d have a more accurate assessment of the problem. People often say that they want to make more money, lose more weight, eat more healthy food, etc., but they don’t define what that actually means. Setting out with such an ill-defined destination means that you can’t set an accurate course towards it, and without that, you’re just wandering around in the wilderness.

Think about a time when you’ve performed a task so mundane that it barely registered in your mind. It could be doing the grocery shopping or the laundry. Something that you do, not necessarily every day, but with regularity and (crucially) purpose. If you don’t go to the food store, you won’t have food. If you don’t have food, you can’t eat. If you don’t eat, you die. That’s a pretty clear purpose.

As you head out the door to the supermarket though, that precipitous chain of catastrophic events isn’t weighing on your mind. It’s just a case of making sure that you get everything on the shopping list. There is no doubt in your mind that you’ll make it back with what you need, though. You’ve already mentally and energetically connected, albeit subconsciously, to the outcome of “bringing home the bacon” (or meat-free bacon substitute, if you’re vegan).

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You’ve already achieved your goal mentally. Now, it’s just a case of physically going through the motions. You probably don’t even have to think that much about what you’re doing as you go round the store!

How to Break the Perfectionism-Procrastination Loop

1. Recognize the Loop

The first thing you can do to break this perfectionism-procrastination loop is to recognize it. Bring your awareness to what is really going on and consider what lies behind your claims of perfectionism. Be honest but gentle with yourself. Try, if you can, not to bring judgment into the equation.

Judgment and overly harsh self-criticism can be just as debilitating as your subconscious fear of change, so try not to introduce it in the first place. Consider yourself, as best you can, an impartial observer. You’re just there in the first instance to witness what’s going on.

2. Set Intentions Properly

Armed with that knowledge, you will find that your approach to your goals starts to shift naturally anyway, but you also need to learn how to set intentions properly. If you are one of the aforementioned New Years’ resolution setters who winds up making claims of perfectionism while not taking any action, you ought really to ask yourself:

“If I’m such a perfectionist, why do I keep setting such vague goals?”

Would a perfectionist set out to make “more money” this year and leave it at that?! Would somebody so obsessed with perfection in all things, looking to reach their ideal weight and body shape, really set a goal of simply “lose more weight”?

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You might think, genuinely, that the possibility of not hitting your target dead-on is a reason not to even start. But what are you aiming at in the first place?

Let’s back up the truck for a second, and assess what we mean by procrastination. Procrastination, as defined by researchers, is:[2]

“a form of self-regulation failure characterized by the irrational delay of tasks despite potentially negative consequences.”

So far, we’ve spoken about procrastination as if it is simply “never doing something,” which it is, over time. But really, it’s the delaying of something for no reason. When it comes to achieving goals, procrastination in and of itself isn’t what keeps you from achieving them. It’s procrastination over time. As the Spanish would say, it’s “mañana” thinking.

If you put something off till tomorrow because you just don’t want to do it today, that might still be procrastinatory behavior. But if you then actually do it tomorrow, what’s the harm? It’s the consistent putting off of something based on irrationally (or subconsciously) held beliefs that, over time, means that you never get there. This might seem blindingly obvious, but it’s important to lock down exactly what we mean before seeking to make changes.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, hopefully, it shifts your thinking on what procrastination is enough so that you can accurately assess whether or not your procrastination is hindering your progress. It should help you not to sit in judgment of your procrastination, too.

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3. Try Reaching Out for Help and Mentorship

You can’t expand in a vacuum. You need others to support your journey and provide you with objective feedback. How else are you going to realistically assess whether or not your outcome is perfect anyway?

Find others who have walked the path before you, and reach out to them. Unless they’re huge names with layers of people around them, you’ll probably find that they are willing to help. Even if they are hard to reach, check out interviews with them or look for guidance that they’ve put out publicly in the past.

Part of the problem you’ve been facing is that you can only see what the perfect outcome should look like as filtered through you. By understanding what the wider community (and market) consider to be an ideal outcome for something, you’ll get a much clearer, realistic idea of what you need to be aiming for. From there, you can identify what you’re lacking and therefore, what gaps you need to plug.

Get used to defining your terms better. Think about the language you’re using, both when you talk to others and with your internal monologue. What are you telling yourself?

Is the Narrative You’re Running On True?

Perfectionism is a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable after all.[3] What does that have to do with an irrational delay of tasks despite potentially negative consequences? From a literal point of view, perfectionism should provoke a desire to continue to take action long past the point of an acceptable outcome, not irrationally abstain from taking any!

So, check yourself the next time you utter the words “I’m just a perfectionist” as a pretext for why you haven’t done something, whether it’s to yourself or somebody else. You don’t really mean that, but that’s okay! You’re just afraid to change, as we all are predisposed to be.

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Don’t beat yourself up. See it for what it is, and start to shift the stories (belief systems) that you’re running on.

Featured photo credit: Nubelson Fernandes via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Discover Happy Habits: New Year’s Resolution Statistics (2021 Updated)
[2] SpringerLink: Procrastination and Task Avoidance
[3] Merriam-Webster: perfectionism

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