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Last Updated on July 21, 2020

How to Overcome Procrastination and Start Doing What Truly Matters

How to Overcome Procrastination and Start Doing What Truly Matters

Before we can solve the problem of procrastination, we must understand why we do it. There are a few basic reasons:

  • Feeling overwhelmed with a situation.
  • Given up hope that a situation can be changed or affected.
  • Afraid of failing.
  • Too “busy” to get the really important things done.
  • Can’t make a decision.
  • Overworked, tired.
  • Want to avoid work you don’t like.

Each of these can be reduced down to the pleasure/pain principle which says that we do things to gain pleasure and to avoid pain.

So how to overcome procrastination? Overcoming procrastination can be less challenging if you follow the methods below. Start doing things that matter, and jettison excess baggage in your to-do list that only serves to weigh you down:

1. Get Clear About What You Want in Life

Procrastinators, you’ll love this!

Take 20-30 minutes to do this quick goal planning exercise.

Write down all your goals in some or all of these categories: career, education, relationships, financial, physical, mindset, creative, spiritual, public service, travel, leisure, and other.

Once you have your list, then whittle it down to your top 10, then down to your top 5, and then your top 3.

Do this by asking yourself, “Can I live without this?”

Let your less important goals lie dormant on a “maybe” list that you can check on again in a few months. Focus on the important tasks first.

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Here’re some questions to inspire you to think about what you want: 7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

2. Tidy up Your To-Do List

Delete or delegate from your to-do list those things that don’t relate to your top 3-5 goals.

Just say bye bye. And don’t look back!

This is important to better time management because with limited time, it’s important to do only things that matter most, but not every single task at hand.

3. Link Tasks You Don’t Like to Your Goals

It helps to mentally (and in writing) tie these tasks to one of your main goals or values. This helps you to remind yourself how each task is related to the big picture.

For example, “Keeping a tidy and clean home and desk allows me to have clarity of mind which is something I highly value. By having clarity of mind I will be better able to work on my goals and have less anxiety.”

By linking the task to the pleasure of being able to think clearly, I now have a reason that will motivate me to take action.

4. Plan Your Day Each Day

This is not a big task. It should only take about 10-15 minutes of quiet time.

Do the most difficult and most important things first and work your way down to the easier stuff in the afternoon. You’ll feel really good if you do this.

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Focus on that to motivate you to wait to check email and such until after you’ve finished your first big task.

This article about setting daily goals can help you:

How Setting Small Daily Goals Makes You Achieve Big Success

5. Plan Your Week Just Enough

Plan your week just enough  to loosely schedule in some of the big things you know you want to get done.

Sometimes procrastination happens simply because a task is not scheduled.

Scrum could be a great method for you to try, so you can plan your week right.

6. Allow for Cheats and Get Rest

When you’re tired or have low motivation, take a break.

Don’t be so hard on yourself about the timing of a task and then you won’t try to escape through procrastination so hard in the future. Just reschedule and get back on track later or tomorrow.

Also, remember to check if the task relates to one of your goals. See #1,2, and 3 again!

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7. Just Do It, but Don’t Over Do It

We often put pressure on ourselves to do certain tasks more often than we really need to, such as cleaning, tidying and laundry etc. So give yourself a break and set a schedule for these things that is not overwhelming.

Do thing on a “need to do” basis and let go of the notion that you need to keep up with some perfect schedule. Ever heard of the business concept “just in time” inventory, well this is “just in time” task management.

8. Break Down Big Tasks Into Smaller Components

We procrastinate on tasks that are vague and nebulous because we don’t have clear instructions what to do next.

Take a few moments to think about how to break down a larger task and schedule it into your calendar in pieces. This is good for when you are feeling overwhelmed.

9. Get Help Making Decisions

Decisions are tough for me. I like to use the pro/con method and assign points.

I also recommend getting help from a friend that you know is good with making decisions.

Once you’ve made your decision, then break it down into tasks and schedule into your calendar.

10. Believe in Yourself and in Your Ability to Accomplish Anything You Want

If you’ve lost hope, know that you can turn things around.

Release the fear of failure. Failure is just a learning experience.

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Slow and steady wins the race. A little bit done every day adds up to a lot over a year.

If you have to, just fake your belief until it becomes real. Remember, you can do it!

11. Trick and Treat Yourself

Do you keep avoiding cleaning up your desk or some other big task, even though you know will make you feel good to get it done? If so, do this:

Invite a friend or family member over for a date to “tackle the dreaded task.”

All your friend has to do is sit in the room with you and make sure that you do the task.

If you want, you can let them help you, but it’s not necessary. After the task is done, you can treat you and your friend to either coffee, dessert, meal or movie, whatever!

Summing It Up

It’s useless to read through this article if you’re not taking any actions right after reading it!

So here’s a recap for you:

  • Know your most important goals and values.
  • Only do tasks that contribute to those goals and values.
  • Mentally link tasks to the pleasurable outcomes you seek.
  • Plan your day & week.
  • Do, but don’t overdo. Rest when needed.
  • Break down big tasks.
  • Get help making decisions.
  • Believe in yourself!
  • Trick  and treat!

And now, start with the first one on the list, what’s your goals and what do you value?

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

More by this author

K. Stone

The founder of Life Learning Today, a blog that's dedicated to life improvement tips.

How to Take Time for Yourself and Restore Your Energy How to Overcome Procrastination and Start Doing What Truly Matters Solutions for 7 Annoying Modern Day Problems The Two F-Words You Should Love Opportunity Overload

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1 50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time 2 How to Take Time for Yourself and Restore Your Energy 3 8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener 4 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 5 How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic

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Last Updated on November 3, 2020

50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

If you feel like you don’t have enough time to do everything you want to do, maybe it’s time to check-in with your time management skills.

No one is born to be very good at time management, so that’s okay if you think you’re bad in it. But everyone can learn to boost their productivity and achieve more!

Here are 50 ways to increase productivity and add hours to your day.

1. Set a Timer

Estimate the time you need to tackle different tasks and set a timer for each of your tasks. How you go about this is up to you as there are many different ways. There is the Pomodoro technique where you focus on a task for 25 minutes followed by a five minute break afterwards.

In the event that you have a task that will take much longer than that, you can consider one of the many timer-based apps. One that comes to mind is Clockify. It’s used for freelancers and entrepreneurs alike, however it’s a good way to be setting yourself a timer. It provides reports and you can serve as a project manager of sorts too. Best of all, it’s free.

Download Clockify here.

    2. Eliminate All Distractions

    Distractions include the phone, email notifications and having multiple web browsers open on the desktop. Just as it’s important to be organized offline, it’s key to have things organized online as well. One consideration is trying out Freedom an app that allows you to block certain sites during periods of time. Try it out on your phone here.

    You can also learn more on how to get rid of all distractions in this guide: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    3. Listen to Music That Boosts Productivity

    Distractions should be avoided, but sometimes a bit of music in the background can help you focus.

    Of course, it doesn’t need to be heavy rock music, but a bit of Beethoven may do you some good.

    Here’s a complete guide to help you pick the right music for better productivity: How To Maximize Your Productivity With Music: A Complete Guide

    4. Find Meaning in What You Do (And Love What You Do)

    Enjoying what you do is the ultimate way to increase your productivity.

    If you aren’t sure what you love doing yet, don’t worry. Leo Babauta has some unique ways to help you: How to Find Your Passion

    5. Prioritize your tasks ahead of time.

    By listing your tasks in order of importance, you can make sure that you finish all of your most important tasks during the day.

    Learn a unique technique to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster.

    6. Batch Similar Tasks into a Single Batch.

    Tasks like blog writing, phone calls, email and errands can be grouped into a single batch. You will save time by completing similar tasks in one session. One way to help you with organizing all of those things is through the app Todoist. It’s an easy and simple way for you to plan out your day, set reminders, and group all of your most important tasks in a convenient spot.

    Download Todoist here.

      7. Complete Your Most Dreaded Tasks First Thing in the Morning.

      Whichever activity you are dreading the most is probably the one you need to complete first thing in the morning.

      Many people tend to check emails in the morning because after checking a list of emails, they feel fulfilled. But that’s just an illusion of having achieved more.

      Doing simple tasks like checking emails first in the morning is bad for you. Instead, do the difficult tasks because you have more energy in the morning to tackle them!

      8. Reward Yourself for Finishing a Big Task

      To stay motivated for whatever you do, reward yourself every now and then.

      Keep track of your small wins and milestones and celebrate them. So whenever you struggle about your progress, you see how far you’ve come!

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      Find out more about this 2-Step Approach to Self-Motivation: Track Small Wins and Reward Yourself.

      9. Don’t Multitask

      Research has shown that multitasking is not productive. If you think you can multitask, think again.

      For optimum productivity, focus on one thing at a time.

      10. Step Away from the Computer

      The Internet has become one of the number one distraction. To increase your productivity, try to do as much of your work offline as possible.

      I do this a lot when I try to brainstom new ideas and have found it to be very beneficial to simply unplug.

      11. Use Focus Tools

      Make good use of apps and technology to help you remove distractions.

      Here’re 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools to help you stay focused. This way, you’re not distracted by the web, e-mail, or IM.

      12. Just Start

      Often times, starting is the hardest part. People tend to wait for the perfect time with perfect condition to start. But there’s no perfect condition.

      Once you get going, you will quickly get into a rhythm that could last for hours.

      13. Find out Your Productive Hours

      Everyone has a certain time of the day in which they are more productive than others. For me, it’s the morning.

      Find out when your prime time is for productivity and optimize your work schedule accordingly.

      14. Keep a Notebook and Pen on Hand at All Times

      This way, you can write down your thoughts, to-dos and ideas at any time. The key is to get everything out of your head and onto paper. Your subconscious mind won’t be reminding you about it every other second. Another consideration is getting the app Evernote. Not only does this save you on ink and paper, Evernote is a convenient place for you to jot down notes and thoughts and then share them with the team. In certain circumstances, this can prove useful if you’re the type of person that has a lot of ideas that you want to share.

      Download Evernote here.

        15. Write a Blog to Chronicle Your Own Personal Development and Achievements

        The blog keeps you accountable and always working towards self improvement and personal growth.

        When you write down all the small achievements you’ve been having, you’re also more motivated to move forward.

        And you know what, this is how I started Lifehack too! What also helped me in starting Lifehack is WordPress, which allows people to set up a website for free. WordPress has simplified a lot of the process of building a site to the point that virtually anyone can build a website now.

        Try WordPress out here.

        16. Write out a To-Do-List Each Day

        I like to plan my day the night before. This way, I can get started on my most important tasks as soon as I wake up.

        Make sure you don’t make any of these common to-do-list mistakes!

        17. Write Your Most Important Tasks and To-Dos on a Calendar.

        The key to good time management is knowing where to be and what to be doing there at any given time. Effective calendar management goes hand in hand with good task list management.

        Learn here How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space.

        18. Reflect on Your Productivity Constantly

        As you go throughout your day, repeatedly ask yourself:

        “Am I currently making the best possible use of my time?”

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        This one simple question can be an excellent boost to your productivity.

        19. Get up Early Before Anyone Else

        I know it could be difficult for some to wake up early in the morning but nothing beats a quiet house!

        Here’s How to Start Your Day at 5:00 AM and some Simple Things Early Risers Do to make waking up early easier.

        20. Get Plenty of Sleep

        When you work online, sleep can become a long lost memory. However, it’s important to get plenty of sleep so that your working hours can be as productive as possible.

        Try out this night routine which I highly recommend for productivity: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

        21. Exercise

        Research has shown that midday exercise boosts productivity and morale in the workplace.

        Take a short walk at lunch or do some simple stretches during your break to maximize your productivity.

        Here I have some exercises recommendations for you:

        22. Outsource as Much as Possible

        If you want to achieve more in less time, learn to delegate or outsource work. Here are just a few of the companies that will help you outsource your everyday tasks:

        Also, read this guide to learn how to delegate effectively: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

        23. Set Some Exciting Goals

        Without worthy goals, you will never be motivated to get things done.

        Set goals that are challenging and achievable. The best goal setting framework is a SMART goal. That said, there are other tools that can help you out as well.

        For example, Strides is an app that takes the SMART goal framework and amplifies it through reports, charts, and other helpful information to help you achieve your goals faster and regularly.

        You can download Strides here.

          24. Tell Other People About Your Goals

          When you tell others about your goals, you will instantly be held accountable.

          25. Listen to Podcasts

          Listen to educational podcasts or audio books while you’re driving to work, cleaning the house, exercising, or cooking dinner.

          Audio learning has the power to add hours to your day. Not to mention, your cranium is sure to thank you for it.

          Some recommendations for you: 11 Podcasts To Inspire Yourself

          26. Read David Allen’s best-selling book Getting Things Done

          This is one of the most important productivity books you will ever read. Read it, apply the tips in your daily lives and get more things done.

          Here’re more great books about productivity too: 35 Books on Productivity and Organizational Skills for an Effective Life

          27. Learn to Speed Read

          When you can read faster, you will read and learn more! Check out these 10 Ways to Increase Your Reading Speed.

          You can also make use of the app OutRead to help speed up your reading speed!

          28. Learn to Skip When You Read

          When you’re reading a book, just read the parts that you need and skip the rest. But you have to read with a purpose.

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          Learn how to make it work here: How to Read 10X Faster and Retain More

          29. Focus on Result-Oriented Activities

          Pareto’s law (also known as the 80 20 rule) states that 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs. This means that 20% of our actions result in 80% of the results.

          We must find the 20% that is creating the 80% of our desired outcomes and focus solely on those activities.

          30. Take a Break

          You can’t always be working at optimum productivity. Instead, you should shoot for working in short bursts at your most productive times.

          31. Start a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule

          What is polyphasic sleep?

          Polyphasic sleep is a sleep pattern specification intended to compress sleep time to 2-5 hours daily.[1] This is achieved by spreading out sleep into short (around 20-45 minute) naps throughout the day. This allows for more waking hours with relatively high alertness.

          While you can learn more about it here, you’re recommended to take some naps during the day to recharge your energy too.

          32. Learn to Say “No”.

          We can’t do everything and therefore we must learn when to say no in order to save our sanity.

          Learn the Gentle Art of Saying No from Leo Babauta.

          33. Go on an Information Diet

          Most of the world lives on information overload. We must eliminate mindless Internet surfing.

          Stop reading three different newspapers a day and checking your RSS feeds multiple times a day. Otherwise, you’ll never get anything done.

          The key is to limit yourself only to information that you can immediately take action on. Here’re some simple tips you can try: 10 Simple Productivity Tricks To Manage Overloaded Information

          34. Organize Your Office

          The piles of paper around your desk can be a huge barrier on your productivity. Optimize your time by organizing your office, setting up a system and dumping the junk.

          Check out these 21 Tips to Organize Your Office and Get More Done.

          35. Find a Mentor

          By modeling after those who have already achieved success, you will save yourself a lot of time and energy.

          A good mentor is hard to find, so here’s a guide to help you: What to Look for in a Mentor

          36. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts

          With technology’s help, you can double your work efficiency. Even better, you learn all the shortcuts when using technology, for example keyboard shortcuts.

          When you use keyboard shortcut, you gain 64 hours every year!

          Not sure what shortcuts to lear? Check out these 22 Tricks That Can Make Anyone A Keyboard Ninja.

          Besides learning the shortcuts, you can also create keyboard shortcuts with AutoHotKey.

          37. Improve Your Typing Speed to Save Time

          Do you know you can save 21 days per year just by typing fast?

          You don’t really need to take some serious courses to type faster, try these typing games online:

          38. Work from Home and Avoid the Daily Commute

          If your job is a flexible one, consider working from home. This saves you the commute time and you’ll find yourself more energetic throughout the day as you have saved the long ride.

          Take a look at these tips to help you stay productive while working from home:

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          How to Work from Home and Stay Ultra-Productive

          39. Get Rid of Time Wasters

          Common time wasters include Instant Messenger, video games, Flickr, checking your stats 10 times a day, television and extraneous Internet surfing.

          Don’t rely on your willpower, make use of some of these useful tools to help you stay focus: 10 Online Apps for Better Focus

          40. Plan Your Meals in Advance

          Plan out all of your meals a week ahead and make your grocery list accordingly. This allows you to focus on the necessary – saving you time and money. You can also save yourself even more time through a wide variety of apps. One app that I find helpful is Mealime. It’s an app that provides you with a wide selection of recipes and also a convenient spot for your grocery list as well.

          Considering the fact that over 4 million users have this app, it goes to show that there is a good selection of meal plans that you can follow and that the app is friendly to use.

          Pick up Mealime here.

            41. Cook Your Meals in Bulk

            When you cook your meals in bulk, you will have plenty of leftovers. This can avoid having to cook everyday.

            Find out more about how to make cooking in bulk works: Once a Month Cooking: Productivity Hack or Overrated Time Suck?

            42. Protect Yourself from Unnecessary Phone Time with Caller ID

            The minutes you spend on picking up unnecessary phone calls are time wasted. You can prevent that from happening.

            Check out this detailed guide how you can deal with those unnecessary phone calls: How To Lose the Useless Items that Weigh Down Your Day – Cellphone Calls

            43. Take Shorter Showers

            This one may sound silly but it’s actually something I struggle with. I spend up to 30 minutes in the shower. Think of the time I could save simply by speeding up a bit.

            44. Save the Trips to Bank by Taking Direct Deposit

            Many employers now offer direct deposit. If yours does, then be sure and take advantage of it and save yourself from a number of trips to the bank.

            45. Auto Pay Your Bills

            How many times have you been worried about whether you missed the bills deadline?

            Auto paying your bills will save you time and eliminate late fees and increased interest rates.

            46. Shop Online

            Whenever possible, avoid going to the store. When you shop online, you can be more focus about what you’re getting.

            47. Speed up your Internet with a broadband connection.

            Many people are aware of the slow speed of internet but aren’t doing anything about it. In fact, this is the number one Internet time-saver!

            If you must use dial-up, then you can use accelerators like Propel and SlipStream to double or even triple your speed.

            48. Keep up the Speed of Your Computer

            If you’re a Windows user, use Windows hibernation feature to avoid the slowdown of exiting and restarting Windows.

            Or maybe, consider switching to Mac as there’re plenty of Advantages You Probably Don’t Know About Switching To Mac From PC.

            49. Turn off the TV.

            The average American watches more than 4 hours of television every day. Over a 65-year life, that’s 9 years glued to the tube.

            For better health and productivity, turn off the TV. Here’re 11 more reasons to tell you to stop watching TV so often.

            Turn off the TV and you are sure to get more out of life.

            50. Use a Tivo or DVR.

            This can help you cut an hour-long television show down to just 40 minutes. You can save time while not missing the fun.

            So, here’s the ultimate list of techniques you should learn to boost productivity. Pick the techniques that work for you and make them your daily habits. As time goes, you’ll find yourself being a lot more productive.

            More Time Management Tips

            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

            Reference

            [1] Medical News Today: What is biphasic and polyphasic sleep?

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