This post may contain affiliate links, which means I make commission (at no cost to you!)
if you purchase through the link. Read our affiliate disclosure here.
Your to-do list is a mile long and growing by the minute, and yet you can’t seem to get anything done. So you check your email, you read a news site (or two), you chat by the coffee maker with not one, but three co-workers who come in to make coffee, then you wander back to your desk and see if anything good has popped into your inbox. Sound familiar? Are you a chronic procrastinator? It’s ok to admit it- you eventually get your stuff done, right? I mean, maybe not everyone you work with or live with is thrilled by your constant procrastination, but they eventually get over it… Or they won’t and your co-workers, boss, spouse, friends and kids become increasingly frustrated with your procrastinating and you end up on everyone’s list…
Yeah- that’s probably more like it because you’re wasting their time, causing them stress and delaying their projects as well! One of my favorite procrastination quotes is, “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow just as well.” Yes, I may have a slight procrastination problem. Fortunately for me, I am very driven to work, but day to day life, like chores, scheduling appointments, bills, yard work, I am all too happy to bump that to the day after tomorrow. 😉
Procrastination is, by definition, the action of delaying or postponing something. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. And it’s not surprising that procrastination is on the rise! But it’s time to get a handle on your procrastinating ways.
Lucky for you, I have four simple solutions you can start doing that will get your procrastination in check. You can read them now, or Pin this to read later.
NO! That was a test! Obviously, you need to read this NOW. I am not going to encourage your procrastination by suggesting you Pin this to read later! This is a 5-minute read. You’ve got this.
Procrastinating: Deferring the Unavoidable
One: Improve Your Mood
This seems like a no-brainer, but it plays a huge part in how much and how often you are procrastinating. If you are crabby or tired or just feeling meh, you’re not going to feel like getting much done. So start off your day on a high note:
- Go to bed at a decent time and set yourself up to sleep well: make your bed every day (study after study shows this is a GOOD THING) so you are getting into a nice bed at night, make sure your pillows are not keeping you awake, put your phone across the room and silence it overnight, use a sleep machine or the tv (set to a relaxing channel, not something you’re going to want to watch) to drown out noises from outside or the rest of your house.
- When you wake up, let some natural light into your bedroom and home. Take 5 minutes to stretch and run through your day in your head, or do 5 minutes of mind-clearing yoga. Then, make your bed. (See above. ^^)
- Eat breakfast.
- Do what you can the evening before to prepare for the next day: get your coffee area set up, pack your lunch, pack your backpack- do whatever you can to avoid adding stress to your morning.
When you start your day off in a happy, positive mood you are ready to take on the day. When you start your day off grumpy you spend the day trying to improve your mood.
Two: To Do List Management
Sure, you have a to-do list, but it’s not working for you because it is unmanageable. You’re probably using a bulleted list like this:
- Complete expense reports
- Update project plan
- Schedule conference room
- Send out meeting request
- Circle back with production for status update
If you are a procrastinator that list is WAY too vague, which makes it way too overwhelming. Remember in elementary school when you were learning to make an outline before writing a book report? You need to go back to the basics and put that method of “writing a paper” (AKA “Getting Stuff Done”) back into practice. Instead of “Complete expense reports” it should look like this:
- Complete expense reports
- Expenses for Boston
- transportation airport to conference center
- transportation conference center to hotel
- Expenses for Chicago client meeting
- Lyft reimbursement
- Expenses for company car
- oil change receipt
- windshield repair
- Expenses for Boston
Do you see how the new list is longer, but way more manageable? If you do that for everything on your list you’ll have a manageable day and actually be able to get through all of your tasks much more quickly. This extended list allows you to chip away at your to-do list instead of being overwhelmed by your list. It gives you a plan. Which brings me to the next point…
Three: Beat Procrastinating When You Work in Blocks
So now you have your extended outline-style to-do list and you’re ready to get down to business, but where to begin? That depends on your schedule for the day. If it’s 9:50am and you have a 10:00am meeting, look at your to-do list to see what you can check off of it in the next 7-8 minutes and still be at your meeting on time. In that amount of time you should be able to scan the receipts for your oil change and windshield repair, so do that and cross that off of your list. By breaking each task down into blocks of time you don’t have to tackle the entire list at once. Now all that’s left for the expense reports portion of your list is two items. Baby steps through your list! Procrastinating is lessened when you have smaller chunks of time devoted to tasks.
Four: Ransom Yourself
This is drastic and reserved for The Most Procrastinated About Tasks. If this doesn’t get you in gear and on top of things you may be beyond help. Well, maybe not beyond help, but perhaps in need of a therapist or life coach of sorts to help you with your procrastinating because this next step is pretty hardcore.
If you have a task that you have been putting off for day, weeks, or even months, this is for you. Let’s use the example of filing the 2-foot tall stack of papers on your desk. It HAS TO BE DONE. It’s not going to do itself and it grows taller by the day. Today is the day. Your boss has hinted a few times that it’s a fire hazard and you know she is this >< close to losing it over this clutter in your office. Yesterday was going to be the day, but you had meetings, and then you had to do your expense report, and then Claire was chatty by the Keurig, and Joe needed help connecting his new laptop to the scanner, and… … … and then it was time to go home and Whoops! You didn’t have time to file.
Well, you know yourself and you know that without some incentive to get this done, it’s not getting done. Short of administrative leave, which is not going to happen, there’s really not much to motivate you, right?
Wrong. Unless you are independently wealthy and have money to burn, money is going to motivate you. Think of a number that would be painful to give away. It could be $50, it could be $200. We all have our pain point and the number needs to exceed that pain point. Like “I will be totally screwed and not be able to pay my cell phone bill or eat if I lose $200 this week” painful.
Now think of an organization you loathe. Let’s just say it’s the Puppy Haters of America. And you LOVE DOGS!
Now give the $200 to Cat Lover Joe, who you helped yesterday, $200 with the instructions that if your filing is not completed by 5:00pm he is to donate that $200 to the Puppy Haters of America. He will be all too happy to do so, and you will bust your hump so he can’t. You NEED that money and cannot stand the thought of it going to an organization that stands against everything you believe in.
I told you the 4th way to stop chronic procrastinating was hardcore! It’s like losing weight by wagering against yourself. If you have a lot on the line you will be more inclined to do it. If something like filing is the bane of your existence consider letting Cat Lover Joe hold onto $100 to ensure your pile doesn’t grow to over 8″- if it does, he donates your money and it starts all over again.
If you are a chronic procrastinator these tips to overcome procrastinating should help quite a bit! If you’d like to learn a little more about procrastination and why we’re prone to it, the Association for Psychological Science has a great article, Why Wait? The Science Behind Procrastination, that explains it all. (Believe it or not, the internet is not what caused procrastination- we have been procrastinating for hundreds of years!)
Ready for more tips & tricks to get through life? Then you will love these posts!
Be sure to sign up for our 5 Days to a Happier You email, too! You’ll be amazed at how much happier you can be in just 5 days.