7 Ways To Stop Procrastinating & Actually Get Stuff Done
I have a major procrastination problem. No matter what the task — big or small— I will find a way to put it off until the last possible minute while incurring the most amount of stress, and I hate it. I just want to know how to stop procrastinating.
And I know I'm not alone. In an article for Real Simple, Piers Steel, Ph.D., a professor of human resources and organizational dynamics at the University of Calgar and author of The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Things Done said, “We have a limited, depletable supply of willpower and resources," meaning that putting things off we don't want to is incredibly easy, especially when we already have busy lives. In the same piece, Eva Wisnik, a time-management trainer for lawyers and corporations in New York City, noted that putting of a dreaded task "drains you of your strength," but that actually getting it done makes you feel incredibly productive and triumphant.
So we know checking something off our to-do list feels amazing, and yet we still so often just can't seem to get it done. If you're tired of this cycle in your own life, here's a list of seven tips to stop procrastination in its tracks:
1. Restart Your Day At 2 p.m.
Wisnik recommended giving yourself a reboot in the middle of each day. “At 2 p.m. every day, assess how much you’ve accomplished, remind yourself of what’s critical, and alter your plan so you can tackle the most important thing,” Wisnik said. You're essentially giving yourself another morning start and re-centering your energy to get things done.
2. Split The Tasks Into Smaller Sections
In the same piece, psychology professor Joseph Ferrari said that sometime we can get bogged down when we see the forest for the trees. Instead, he urged us to simply "cut one tree [...] or three branches." So if you're stressing because you need to reorganize your whole closet, start by just reorganizing your shoes.
3. Give Yourself Deadlines
In a piece for Forbes about how to stop procrastinating, leadership expert Margie Warrell said to write down the tasks you need to get done and give yourself a deadline. "A goal without a deadline can be put off indefinitely," she said. I personally use this tip all the time when I need a kick in the butt to get moving, and it always helps get me motivated.
4. Visualize Getting It Done
Warrell also suggested visualizing yourself completing the task and imagining the feeling you will have when it's done. Really imagining how good it will feel to get it behind you will give you added motivation to start.
5. If It's Quick, Do It Now
Productivity author James Clear said that if any of the tasks you are putting off will take you less than two minutes, just do them now. "It’s surprising how many things we put off that we could get done in two minutes or less," he said. "For example, washing your dishes immediately after your meal, tossing the laundry in the washing machine, taking out the garbage, cleaning up clutter, sending that email, and so on." So just do it!
6. Start A Larger Task And Give It Two Minutes
Clear also said that when you're putting something larger off, make yourself start it for just two minutes. "The 2–Minute Rule works for big goals as well as small goals because of the inertia of life," he said. "Once you start doing something, it’s easier to continue doing it. I love the 2–Minute Rule because it embraces the idea that all sorts of good things happen once you get started."
7. Get Yourself In A Positive Headspace
In a piece for Psychology Today, psychologist David Niven recommended simply getting yourself in a positive headspace when you're stressing about putting something off. "Procrastination thrives when we’re in a bad mood," he said. "Do something you like to do that will change your focus. With a positive mindset, it will be harder to convince yourself that you can’t handle the work that needs to be done."
Procrastination sucks, but the good news is it doesn't have to be a part of your life. Just make a point to be conscious of when you're doing it, and use some or all of these tips to start beating the cycle!