How To Stop Procrastinating (10 Powerful Methods)

A woman procrastinating doing work and instead is playing on her phone.

From time-to-time, procrastination is something that everyone struggles with. You know what you need to get done, but for one reason or another, you keep putting it off. Before you know it, you have wasted a good chunk of time and have little to show for it. There are a number of reasons why you might procrastinate. However, this article will provide you ten powerful methods to help you stop procrastinating. The methods to stop procrastinating include:

  • getting organized
  • changing your scenery
  • minimizing distractions
  • creating a to-do list
  • exercising
  • telling others about what you are working on
  • setting deadlines
  • focusing on productivity over perfection
  • the 10 minute rule

1. Get Organized

Being organized can help in more ways than one when it comes to helping you stop procrastinate.

Firstly, having an organized workspace promotes productivity. If you are working in a messy environment, you may find yourself procrastinating as you convince yourself you need to clean.

After you finish your work for the day, spend five minutes to clean and organize your workspace. That way, the next day you arrive, you can get started right away with the tasks you need to accomplish. You aren’t allowing yourself to procrastinate from not being organized.

Secondly, when you are organized in regards to your schedule, deadlines, and workload, you have a clear understanding of what you are trying to accomplish.

People often procrastinate when they are overwhelmed with what needs to get done. They bounce from one task to the next, without really starting or finishing anything.

When you have organized your schedule and prioritized your deadlines, you are aware of what and when each item needs to be completed. Knowing you have scheduled in enough time to complete other tasks, all your focus can be devoted to what you are currently working on finishing.

2. Change Your Scenery

You are more likely to procrastinate when you feel comfortable in your surroundings. When you work in a space that you know well, you can always find something else to do to justify your time.

However, when the workspace is new or uncommon to you, you turn a blind eye to a lot of things that might catch your attention in a setting you are more comfortable in.

For example, if you are a freelance writer that works from home, you might notice the bookshelf is dusty, or the laundry needs folding. Instead of starting the work that you need to do, you first dust the bookshelf or fold the laundry.

However, if you went to the library for a few hours, or set up your laptop in a coffee shop, you are going there to work for a purpose. You aren’t as familiar with your surroundings and more likely to stay focused on a task.

Similarly, if you work in an office building, you might find yourself procrastinating by talking to your neighbor or organizing the files on your desk. Change your scenery to a location that isn’t as familiar to you. An example could be booking a small conference room for an hour and working in there by yourself.

When you set up to work in a new scenery, you aren’t as comfortable. If you aren’t as comfortable, you have fewer opportunities to fill your time with anything but what you are meant to be doing.  

3. Minimize Distractions

Distractions will always be present in your life. Just as you are starting to make progress, your phone rings, or you see an email notification pop-up in the corner of your screen.

The key to avoiding distractions is minimizing the impact they have on your ability to stay focused.

When your phone is in a different room than the one you are working in, you won’t be interrupted by a phone call while trying to work. If it is urgent, they will leave a message, and you will call them back.

Furthermore, email notifications on your laptop can not distract you if you exit your email application while trying to focus on other tasks.

Distractions are all around you, and there is a good chance you are already aware of the things that distract you the most.

If you aren’t sure, pay attention to the things filling up your time when you aren’t doing what you are supposed to be doing. Additionally, what do you feel guilty doing when you are at work? These will be your biggest distractors.

Make a list of your biggest distractions and then find a way to minimize their impact on your life. A few examples can be seen below to get you thinking in the right mindset.

  • Distraction: you are always reaching to check your smartphone. If there are notifications, you feel like you need to address them right away. If there aren’t, you still find yourself constantly checking messages and scrolling through your social media feeds.
    • Minimize Distraction: keep your phone on silent, or at the very least, on vibrate. Also, don’t keep your phone in proximity to where you are working. If you are working from your home office, keep your phone in another room. Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Distraction: you sit down to watch 10 minutes of Youtube or a check the sports highlights, and before you know it you are an hour in and still watching.
    • Minimize Distraction: when you sit down to watch, set yourself a timer of how long you are going to watch for. When time is up, your alarm alerts you to get back to work. Or download a blocker extension that restricts the amount of time you can spend on your tv or a certain website each day.

4. Create A Plan Or To-Do List

If you create a plan or a to-do list, you can hold yourself accountable to a schedule. A schedule provides the structure that many people need to keep them on track.

You may struggle with feeling overwhelmed about how much work you need to do. As a result, you spend more time thinking about what needs to get done instead of getting started on the work.

By creating a plan or a to-do list, you are getting all your thoughts on paper. Now they are on paper, you can stop worrying that you might forget specific ideas.

Next, take the larger items and break them down into actionable tasks that you can complete in a shorter amount of time.

For example, take a task that you want to finish in one day of work. Break the task down into a to-do list with six or seven items that can each be completed within one hour. If need be, you can break these hour-long tasks down further into smaller items.

By being able to write your thoughts down and split up larger items, tasks become a lot more manageable. What was once a large task, is now a series of smaller, hour-long exercises that are very achievable.

5. Exercise

Exercise is a helpful tool to stop procrastinating. Sometimes you may find yourself more fidgety or restless than usual. Typically this occurs when you have been working for an extended time.

Other times you attempt to start working but are too energetic and struggle to concentrate.

When you are experiencing times like these, get some exercise. Exercise helps improve your focus and increase your productivity.

That being said, it may be hard to get to the gym mid-afternoon while at work. Consider other options like working out at lunch or going for walk outside.

If you are strapped for time, take a few minutes to walk up and down the stairs in your office building. While it may not have the same effect as a full workout, increasing your heart rate by doing some exercise will help clear your mind and refocus.

6. Reward Yourself

If you often procrastinate and struggle to finish work, be sure to reward yourself when you complete it. However, be consistent about only rewarding yourself after you finish the task.

When you get in a routine of rewarding yourself after you complete a task, your brain will subconsciously start to recognize this. As a result, you will become more eager to start and finish a task.

Rewarding yourself could mean a break outside for a walk, an episode of your favorite show, listening to a podcast, a coffee break with a friend, or a quick scroll through your social media feed.

It is important to stay disciplined and only reward yourself after you finish what you have set out to accomplish. If you reward yourself midway through or before you start a task, it is no longer a reward. Now it is just another way that you are enabling yourself to procrastinate.

7. Tell Others About What You Want To Accomplish

When you want to accomplish something, let others know about it. By telling other people what you are planning to do, you are holding yourself accountable to do it.

As you procrastinate, family members, friends, and whoever else you told will continue to ask you about the progress you are making. Eventually, you will become annoyed by the questions and have no choice but to complete it.

A lot of people have big ambitions, but they struggle to take action and follow through with the actual work. By letting others know about your plan, you are giving yourself more reasons to do what you said you would. 

8. Set Deadlines

Setting and meeting deadlines are an important aspect of any time management strategy. When you have a firm deadline, you make a commitment to finish a task within the required timeframe.

A deadline makes you work with purpose, and with urgency. When a deadline is fast approaching, previous distractions that initially kept you from getting work done are no longer as interesting.

Deadlines that are given to you by someone else (a boss or professor) may seem more important to you than the ones you set yourself. Typically this is because deadlines that are given to you have more serious consequences attached to them if not met.

However, be sure to hold yourself accountable to the deadlines you set yourself as well. For many people, a fast-approaching deadline is one of the only ways they can stop procrastinating and get to work.

9. It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect

Being productive doesn’t mean being perfect. Many people lack productivity because they are aiming for perfection. Striving for perfection is important, but you have to recognize that nothing will ever be perfect.

As you start a new project or task, you are typically excited about the potential. Ideas are flowing, and you are optimistic about the direction it could go. You initially begin working on the project and make significant progress in a short amount of time.

However, your productivity on the task significantly decreases as time goes on. You make small edits here and there, but you waste a lot of time debating internally over minor details.

It is at this point that you, and many other people, struggle to complete the task. You start to procrastinate finishing what you have started because you aren’t completely content with the result.

At some point, you have to realize that you have completed the task to a good-enough standard that it can be released to your audience, submitted for grading, or presented to your boss.

While it is important to produce your best possible work, when you are struggling to finish a project, it is crucial to have firm deadlines. Deadlines hold you accountable for completing a task. Additionally, deadlines help you recognize that while your project may not be perfect, it is good enough to be considered complete.

10. Do It For 10 Minutes

Whatever it is that you are procrastinating, sit down and do it for 10 minutes. No distractions, no interruptions, only your complete focus for 10 minutes. If you can get through the first 10 minutes, chances are, you will end up doing it for much longer.

One of the hardest parts about overcoming procrastination is the start and initially getting in the right mindset for the task. The idea of doing whatever it is that you are putting off is a bigger challenge than actually doing it.

For most people, once they focus for 10 minutes, ideas start to flow, the task doesn’t seem so infeasible, and they get in the right mindset to finish what they started.

It could be a school paper, a report for your boss, studying for a math exam, or responding to an email. Whatever it is that you are procrastinating, give it your complete focus for 10 minutes. You will be surprised at how much you will be able to accomplish.

The realization that there are 86,400 seconds each day. What are you doing today, so that tomorrow you are a step closer to where you want to be? If not now, then when?

eightysixfourhundred, make them count

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Hi, I'm James! I want to help you make the most of your day by providing helpful tips and informative articles on motivation, time management, productivity, and happiness.

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