Advertising
Advertising

How to Avoid Procrastination and Laziness Once and for All

How to Avoid Procrastination and Laziness Once and for All

Your to-do list is bigger than you are. You can’t keep doing this. You’ve got tasks and goals lined up from here to forever. Most of them are dated today and tomorrow.

Sure, it’s good to be busy, but not this busy. And not for this long without a break. When’s the last time you stopped worrying about everything?

Desperately struggling to achieve perfect time management and productivity is wearing you out. Let laziness back into your life.

I know what you’re thinking: easier said than done, right? There’s so much stuff you have to do, and you can’t just skip it or hand it off to somebody else.

Actually, you mostly can do that. You just have to beat your fear first. Fear? Yes., you’ve got a serious phobia of goofing off.

Here I’m going to share with you how to avoid procrastination and laziness:

1. Embrace your laziness

Like you, most Lifehack readers are keen to be as productive as possible at all times. There’s a problem with that:

Humans are not built for 24/7 productivity. Nobody’s perfect at time management every single second.

One of the best things you can do to boost your productivity is give yourself a break.

Advertising

No matter what you’re doing, if you’ve been doing it for more than 30 or 40 minutes, your brain’s getting too accustomed to it. That means you’ll start to make mistakes.

A very short break will let you maintain your mental focus, and a longer break will refresh your whole body, as well as your mind.

As for time management, it should come as no surprise to you that if you have fewer things to do, managing your time suddenly gets easier.

If you’re genuinely struggling to manage time, rather than energy and motivation, maybe you simply have too many tasks on the go.

The easiest way to test this theory is to reduce your to-do list. If that helps, problem solved. If you’re still struggling after halving your tasks, then you’re probably procrastinating.

Trouble is, you’re doing it wrong.

2. Procrastinate productively

When most people procrastinate, they do it in an aimless daze.

Sharpen your procrastination skills and you’ll discover that procrastination is a tool, not a problem.

Every time you feel like avoiding a task, look at why you feel that way about it.

Advertising

  • Is it scary, like going to the dentist?
  • Depressing or morbid, like drawing up a will?
  • Tiring, like cleaning out your garage?
  • Do you feel like you don’t know how to begin?

Once you’ve identified the source of your procrastination inclinations, address it.

Take a friend with you to the dentists for support. Arrange to meet up with your extended family after finalizing your will. Ask for help cleaning out the garage.

Figure out the first step to overcome your initial paralysis.

Get procrastination working for you by telling you how you can make your tasks easier to handle.

The other key thing about procrastinating is that it follows the same principles as the classic productivity advice to “action, defer, delegate, or delete” any task that crosses our path.

In this case, the aim is to de-stress by delaying, delegating, and abandoning as many tasks as possible.

3. Abandon what you can

Seriously, does this item on your to-do list have to be done? What will happen if it never gets done at all?

If you can live with the consequences, ditch the task.

Does that sound scary? Are you thinking, “What if it turns out to be important after all?” No problem.

Advertising

Lay that fear to rest by keeping a list of your abandoned tasks, so that you can move them back onto your active to-do list later on if you want to.

Weirdly, some people call this approach a productivity technique while others call it laziness. I say if it works, use it.

4. Delegate responsibly

Can you get someone else to do this for you? Really? You sure?

Most people overestimate their own importance in the completion of a task. It’s easy to think that your family/business/universe would collapse if you weren’t there working hard to keep it going.

The simple fact is that there’s usually someone else who can handle it. They just aren’t right now, because they can see you’ve got it already.

More importantly, can you find someone to delegate to who’ll perform well enough that you won’t feel disappointed? The biggest delegation screw-up is turning to somebody who’s willing, but not able.

Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by delegating to somebody just because they’re available. Look for the most reputable person with the most relevant skills that you can find, so that you can relax knowing the task’s getting done right.

Lifehack’s CEO, Leon has some good advice on how to delegate:

How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

Advertising

5. Do it later

No matter what you hear about Inbox Zero and other done-at-first-sight productivity tactics, they don’t work for everybody.

If you’re so obsessed with emptying your inbox that you don’t get anything else done, that isn’t a productive day!

Assess the urgency and importance of any tasks you can’t abandon or delegate. Today, do only tasks that:

  • need to be done today or tomorrow, like buying more milk before the store closes.
  • have a lot riding on them, like revising for an exam or booking your next vacation.

Everything else can be added to your “to do later” list, where it can stay until it becomes important enough to do today (or, ideally, until you find someone to do it for you instead).

How do you feel about laziness and procrastination now?

Don’t let fear of imagined consequences blind you to the real benefits of doing less. Goofing off is vital to your productive lifestyle!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

More by this author

Sophie Lizard

A writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

How to Avoid Procrastination and Laziness Once and for All Don't give up 29 Inspirational Wallpapers for Your Desktop 11 Reasons Why You Should Never Get a Full-Time Job 10 Smart Ways to Deal with Rude People 5 Lesser Known Gmail Tips and Hacks

Trending in Productivity

1 5 Values of an Effective Leader 2 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them 3 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work) 4 30 Practical Ideas to Create Your Best Morning Routine 5 Is People Management the Right Career Path for You?

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

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)

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.

Advertising

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!

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

Advertising

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

Read Next