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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.

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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.

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  • 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.

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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)

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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

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Sophie Lizard

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

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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