Let’s admit it, we’ve all been guilty of delaying chores and important tasks. In fact, approximately 15%–20% of adults suffer from chronic procrastination, and 25% of people consider it to be a defining personality trait.

You might put off doing something because it seems too difficult or because you don’t feel up to it. You might even convince yourself (like me) that you’re someone who enjoys working under pressure, meaning, you put it off for as long as possible. However, putting off tasks can really sabotage your ambitions and put a strain on both your mental and physical health.

In light of this, and to celebrate National Procrastination Day (a day late… fitting) we have put together a list of ways that will help you stop procrastinating and get sh*t done. 

Admit that you’re procrastinating. 

You know when you find yourself doing just about every other task to avoid the main one at hand? When your house ends up absolutely spotless but you still have this pressing matter begging for your attention? You convince yourself you’re not procrastinating because technically you’re still getting sh*t done… yep, we’ve all been there. 

If you endlessly alter your priorities in order to avoid doing something, you’re probably procrastinating. 

It’s okay, the first step is to admit it. 

You can address the underlying cause once you become aware that you are procrastinating. Typically, there are multiple causes for this:

  • Fear. You worry that your work won’t live up to your high expectations and/or that you’ll fail.
  • Impulse control. It’s easy to get distracted from your task when there’s good weather or your friends are all doing something without you. 
  • Dismissal. You don’t give some things much thought since they aren’t your cup of tea.
  • Rebelling. Sometimes we conscientiously or subconsciously reject working on something that we feel is being forced on us. 

Once you’ve established the root cause, it’s easier to overcome it. 

Put the worst thing first on your schedule 

Tackling the most difficult task first on your list, while unpopular, is actually scientifically proven to yield the most productivity. 

By doing so, you’re not only overcoming your procrastination but you’re also removing its ability to provoke negative emotions and resistance as well. 

Most importantly, you have built momentum for the rest of your daily tasks. 

Reduce the number of daily decisions you need to make 

This may sound odd, but did you know that every time we have to make a decision it eats into our energy resources. Too many decisions can leave us feeling drained resulting in procrastination.

For instance, you might ask yourself each morning, “What do I need to get done today? If so, you’re about to put off doing it all day.

In other words, if you don’t plan out how each day will go in advance, you’ll spend a lot of time worrying about what to do next. 

Introduce time blocking

Timeboxing is a technique of time blocking where you limit the amount of time you can work on any particular task. For example, set time limits of 90 minutes instead of giving yourself unlimited time to work on a single task throughout the day.

The psychology behind “timeboxing” has to do with time scarcity and deadlines, where your limited time forces you to do things more efficiently and get more done.

Timeboxing, is a terrific method to trick your brain into thinking you have less time than you have, which will motivate you to move. One step at a time is the secret to achieving your highest life goals.

Change your environment 

Your environment has a huge impact on how productive you are or aren’t. So take time to carve out and organise your ideal workspace. Grab a coffee and a snack, light a candle if necessary and get focused. 

Practice mindfulness 

Procrastination often occurs when we are already anxious or overwhelmed. Mindfulness is a great way to counteract this. 

According to Professor Tim Pychyl from Carleton University “Research has already demonstrated that mindfulness meditation decreases the amygdala, grows the pre-frontal cortex, and weakens the relationship between these two areas,” 

Getting started with mindfulness is as simple as downloading the Calm or Headspace app or even pull up a YouTube video. 

Lower your expectations 

Perfectionism is like kryptonite to procrastinators. 

Instead of aiming for perfection, consider “good enough.” If you don’t put pressure on yourself to start, you’ll feel a lot more confident and less apprehensive.

It’s better to just get started! 

Find an accountability partner 

Did you know that setting up an accountability appointment with someone you’ve committed to, will increase your chances of success by a massive 95%! 

Hello, that’s why so many people hire PT’s, because besides the fact they are experts in fitness, they also help you achieve your goals, simply by holding you accountable. 

So before you start your next project, tell a friend or colleague your plans and have them check in with you every now and then, or preferably at the end of the day. 

Follow the 2 minute rule

If any of you have read the book Atomic Habits, you’ll know this one. If you are really struggling to muster up the motivation to start something, make a deal with yourself to simply do 2 minutes of the task. After the 2 minutes is up you’ll end up going further, you may even finish the entire thing. 

For example, if you want to start going to the gym, tell yourself you’ll go and run on the treadmill for 2 minutes. Once the 2 minutes is up, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to stop. 

In other words, just starting is key. 

Visualise your future self 

Undergraduate students can reduce procrastination by visualising their future selves, according to Prof Tim Psychl. The reason for this is because the activity allowed them to empathise with their future selves. 

We’ve all heard the phrase, “short term pain for long term gain.” – probably from your PT

Through visualisation, you can construct a mental  roadmap of what your final goal looks like. Dopamine is released when activities are completed, so picturing your destination can be helpful.

Thinking through your activities might also help you identify each step you need to take to complete the task.

If you would like to learn more tips to help you excel both personally & professional then you’re not going to want to miss MOMENTUM.

We’re brining together Northern Ireland’s hottest, sharpest most resilient minds for a night filled with actionable takeaways.

Our mission is to help build business & mindset resilience.