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How to Stop Procrastinating (14 Easy Ways)


Neville

procrastinating bad dan

Procrastination can range from a little bit of occasional laziness to chronic self-sabotage.

That’s why it’s important to develop practical ways to manage your behavior around planning and productivity.

Here's 14 ways I use to fight procrastination, stay focused, and stay productive:

 

#1.) Clean up your workspace!

A messy workspace reflects a messy mind. The more crap you have on your desk, the less likely you are to work with focus.

Action: Clean up your desk. Only keep the bare essentials - everything else can go on shelves, in drawers, or wherever they belong. Out of sight, out of mind!

messy clean desk

 

#2.) Total Silence (use earplugs)

The quickest way to create some focus and get your work done is to just “shut off” all the noise around you with a pair of earplugs.

The quieter it is, the less you’ll find distractions to pull you away from your work. Earplugs are cheap, effective tools to pre-empt procrastination and keep you focused on what’s important.

(if this sounds familiar, it’s because I stole it from Neville!)

Action: Buy a tub of earplugs and pop them in whenever you need to buckle down and work.

ear-plugs-make-me-focus

 

#3.) Work at a cafe

There’s something about the idea that other people might be able to see your screen that’ll keep you working - not goofing off on Facebook or YouTube.

You can get that sort of positive peer pressure at an office or coworking space…...or just go to a cafe. There’s even research that shows there’s a level of ambient noise that actually promotes creativity.

Action: Get out of your house and work from a cafe.

work-at-cafe-e1568681620790.png

 

#4.) Work at a library

Libraries are sort of like an in-between - they combine the positive peer pressure from #3 with the silence from #2.

Action: Check out your local public library. It’s free, quiet, and probably has plenty of other people hard at work.

work at library

 

#5.) Organize group work sessions

You can create positive peer pressure by getting on a video call with people you know, and sharing your screens. No goofing off - everyone just gets to work, no excuses or distractions.

(this is something we sometimes do at Copywriting Course!)

Action: Organize a group call with a few friends or colleagues and plan to work for an hour. Get everyone on the call, share your screens, and get to work. You can also join Neville’s Facebook Live writing sessions on Wednesdays.

neville working on Facebook live

Neville streaming a writing session on FB Live

 

#6.) Schedule tip #1: organize the workday

The more organized your workday is, the less space procrastination has to creep in. When your day doesn’t have much structure, it’s easy to delay your work or get busy with minor tasks. Before you know it, the day’s over and you’ve barely scratched the surface.

Action: Print out a schedule or use a whiteboard. Break the day down by hour and highlight your most important tasks. Here’s how I do it:

whiteboard schedule

 

#7.) Schedule tip #2: END the workday

Deadlines might be the best way to fight procrastination - so give yourself a daily deadline. At ____ o’clock, your workday is done. That means you can’t slack off during the day and try to cram your work late at night.

You’ll feel better because you’ll get more work done during the day and you’ll relax / refresh during the evenings. A better work-life balance is one of the best ways to fight procrastination.

Action: Pick a time to end your workday - 6 pm, for example - and really end it. Shut down your computer, get up, and go do non-work stuff.

schedule the end of the workday

 

#8.) Use a timer

Timers can both measure your time and pace your productivity. If you force yourself to work on ONLY one task for an hour, you’ll get a lot done.

Timers are also good for pacing yourself. If you just try and power through everything in one sitting, you’ll probably burn out in a couple of hours. But if you time yourself and work in short bursts, you’ll stay sharp and focused.

Action: I use Tomato Timer. It’s a Pomodoro timer that intersperses 25-minute work sessions with short and long breaks. When I’m writing, the timer also takes up my second monitor so that there’s no temptation to watch cat videos or Netflix.

tomato timer

 

#9.) Join an accountability group

Accountability groups are great because they’re more than just passive peer pressure. The right group will understand your business and your challenges, then push you to attack your goals consistently. You won’t want to mess up or appear lazy.

Action: You can join niche groups on Meetup.com, or you can just organize your own mastermind. Get a few peers together and commit to a weekly call where you can dig into each others’ business issues and set clear goals that don’t allow space for procrastination.

accountability group call

Here’s a screenshot from an accountability group I’ve been a part of for almost 5 years

 

#10.) Rank your important tasks

A big workload can feel overwhelming - and it’s really easy to find yourself doing the small, easy stuff first and ignoring the big, important tasks. Busy work can feel good, but it’ll also allow the important things to pile up really quickly.

Action: Make a big list of all your tasks for the next day, and rank them by importance and urgency. I like to choose a top 3 “MUST DO’S”, and I highlight them on my schedule.

rank important tasks

 

#11.) Break down big work into small chunks

You’re less likely to procrastinate if you’re dealing with small, simple tasks instead of big, complex problems.

For example, instead of “write the 2,500 paper”....break it down into “write the outline”, then “write a short first draft”, then “add images”, etc.

(This is also the cure to writer’s block)

Action: Take the biggest task on your to-do list and break it down into smaller checklist items.

writers block cure

Instead of a blank page, give yourself specific starting points

 

#12.) Use a journal to review AND plan

Planning your tasks ahead of time will dramatically improve your productivity. It’s a lot tougher to procrastinate when you have a list of specific, doable tasks instead of big, shapeless projects.

You can use a journal to track the day’s productivity and set the next day’s task schedule. It’s a 5-minute process, but if you build it into a habit, it's a powerful procrastination killer.

Action: At the end of the workday, dedicate a set time to look at your top 3 tasks for the day. Did you accomplish them? Then set the top 3 goals for the next day.

planning journal

 

#13.) Turn distractions into rewards

You already know what distracts you...so plan for those distractions, don’t just randomly let them happen (and break up your work). Whether it’s food, YouTube, a pet, a coworker, you can control when and how you interact. The better your plan, the less likely you are to break up your work.

Action: Your schedule doesn’t just have to be about work. You can actively include things you enjoy doing into your day. Want to catch up on the latest episode of your favorite show? Cool, do that at 6 pm. Want to watch the 10-minute recap of the weekend’s NFL games? Schedule it!

turn distractions into rewards

Some scheduled YouTube time, complete with popcorn

 

#14.) Take physical breaks

When you take a break, try and make it physical as well as mental. Get up, stretch your legs, and try to get some fresh air - even if it’s just for a few minutes. The more you can remove yourself from your work during the break, the more refreshed and ready you’ll be when you come back to the task at hand.

Action: Take your breaks away from the computer and get outside as much as possible. I like getting a drink from the kitchen and then spending a few minutes on my balcony.

physical-break-e1568681905552.png

 

Sincerely,

Dan McDermott - Danmcd.me

dan-image.jpg

P.S. How do YOU stop procrastinating?? Let us know below:


User Feedback

Recommended Comments

Guest Fatoki Adeola

Posted

1) I plug my ear and listen to music to avoid distractions.

2) I totally zoom/blank out from what's happening in my environment. Except for the positive ones, of course!

3) I set a goal to achieve in my head.

Link to comment
Guest B Martin

Posted

Here’s a quick 5 for me:

1- Take a photo/Screenshot of your todo list

2- Remind yourself a WHY that resonates for each task.

3- Give yourself a daily reward when done.

4- Set up routines for any repeatable tasks (meditate after the gym in the same place).

5- When you find a mental mantra/image that works to overcome procrastination, be sure to write it down to tap back into the frequency of that thought leading to action.

 

To reiterate the articles point - I’ve also found finding the right collaborators and setting weekly meetings to avoid decision fatigue allows for consistent flow and shitgettingdone. 😊😊

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Guest Darko Kolev

Posted

I have a system that consists of a few tools.

Journalling: Define the goals

In my Yearly and Monthly journals I define my goals and just reread those every few weeks.

But the cooler part is my Daily journal where I record my daily productivity and try to figure out what made today a good or a bad day. At the end of the week I review these daily journals and try to find the patterns between the good and bad days.

Master list: Make the goals concrete

Every night I like to fill my daily master todo list for tomorrow with tasks from all my projects. Project is anything that takes more than a day to complete. I like to separate these into priorities: Urgent, Important and Extra.

Focus timer: Work on the goals

Sometimes I use a pomodoro timer with 25/5 sometimes with 40/10 depending on the type of tasks. For deep work it's usually better to have longer work periods so you can get in the zone.

Habit tracker: Develop positive habits

I use a habit tracker mainly for physical things like getting up early, working out, abstaining from alcohol etc.

Daily mission: What would make today a success

So my daily mission consists of completing my master todo list, staying consistent with my habits and writing my journal at the end of the day.

I couldn't find an app that had all of the above tools so I built one.

It's called LifeHQ and you can check it out here: https://lifehqapp.com

Link to comment
Guest Brandon Dauphinais

Posted

Relating to your #5 (Group working sessions) and #9 (Accountability Group), I recently discovered Caveday.  They do live sessions in New York and LA (never attended as I don't live in either city) AND they do Remote sessions (which I take advantage of).

In addition to this I love using the Freedom app to block out distractions.

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Guest Dan McDermott

Posted

@Fatoki nice! Have you ever tried writing the goals down on paper?
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Guest Dan McDermott

Posted

@B Martin I totally agree - it's cool that a lot of us end up doing similar things. If you haven't read it yet, take a look at Cal Newport's "Deep Work", it touches on a lot of what you mentioned!
Link to comment
Guest Dan McDermott

Posted

Hey Brandon - whoa! I'd never heard of them! Sounds like a fantastic way to get stuff done.

I've never used Freedom, but I do have the Forest app for Chrome....it's sorta neat but I find the Pomodoro timer a lot better. Something about the timer both removes distractions AND forces action.

Link to comment
Guest Neville Medhora

Posted

Oh nice, will have to check this out.

I started seeing groups like this 10+ years ago, and many of them were successful enough to where people got together and started the first co-working spots!

Link to comment
Guest Neville Medhora

Posted

Dang sounds like you've got your personal routine down to a science!
Link to comment
Guest Shannon Zenner

Posted

I now swear by the brain.fm app. It plays the perfect white noise or music to get me really zoned in to that deep work state.
Link to comment
Guest David Hahn

Posted

Great tips!

I use CoDo App for #9. You set your goals (Complete morning routine by 9am, Cardio/Strength training for 30m, Make X cold calls by 4pm, etc) and decide how many times per week you want to do, then onboard your own friends who you want to do together with. (or, just cheer you). I've been using it for the past 2 months or so, and I love it.

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Guest Dan McDermott

Posted

Hey David - that group dynamic is a powerful thing, especially when you're trying to build a habit for the first time!
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Guest Dan McDermott

Posted

I've never heard of it Shannon, thanks for the recommendation! Always on the look out for tools like this!
Link to comment
Guest girish Inamdar

Posted

This blog is too good.Very Helpful for Time management.

 

Tip for Tomato timer will definitely help me to complete me work in time.

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