How to Stop Procrastinating: Six Steps That Really Work

September 21, 2012 — Leave a comment

According to Psychology Today, procrastinators are liars.

how to stop procrastinating

With at least 95 percent of the population procrastinating some of the time, that makes it quite likely that I just called you a liar. Don’t get offended. Read on to find out what Psychology Today meant and also how to stop procrastinating and increase productivity.

Procrastinators Are Liars

According to procrastination experts Joseph Ferrari and Timothy Pychyl, procrastinators lie to themselves all the time. Some common lies we tell ourselves include:

  • I will feel better about this tomorrow.
  • I need to get “x” done before I can work on “y”.
  • My best work is done under pressure.
  • I work better closer to deadline.
  • I will have more motivation/inspiration later.
  • I work better in the morning/at night.

Although some of these things may seem true, they usually don’t have anything to do with our work. We might work better at night, but if we have something due tomorrow morning, getting a head start earlier in the day is usually a better idea. Working under pressure may provide a thrill, but it also leads to errors.

Why Procrastinate?

The experts also point out that people procrastinate for different reasons. Have you ever worked into the wee hours on a project because you put it off at the last minute? There is almost always that moment when you say, “If I just get this done, I’ll never wait until the last minute again!”

How many times does that hold true? Even if we know it’s not a good idea, we find reasons to procrastinate. Some of them include:

  • Fear of failure or self-doubts.
  • A love of the thrill that last-minute work provides.
  • Poor time management.
  • Truly busy schedules that leave no room for all the work.

Six Tips to Beat Procrastination

You know that old saying about recognizing the problem?

Knowing you procrastinate is the first step in correcting the behavior. << Click to Tweet This

Here are six proven tips for removing procrastination from your schedule:

1. Get organized. Understanding all that you have to get done in a day helps you see where you can and cannot afford some fun time. Make a schedule or list and stick to it. Break the list into easy to accomplish tasks so you are constantly marking something as done. All of the accomplishment will help fight self-doubt that can lead to procrastination.

2. Identify your go-to activities. I know the three things I do most when procrastinating. I check Facebook, pick up my Smartphone, or make a snack. Once I identified those activities, I was able to cut them out of the loop. Instead, I use them as a reward. If I cross three things off the to-do list, I can have a snack.

3. Limit your connections. If possible, work without an internet connection for an hour every day. Turn off your phone or turn the ringer off.  Keep the phone outside of the room you are working in.  Limiting interruptions and the ability to browse online can provide for a high-production hour.

4. Make use of deadlines before the deadline. Break all projects into smaller pieces and set deadlines. Ask a trusted friend or family member to act as your “boss”. Report to them as each small deadline approaches so you have a reason to keep up with your work.

5. Take breaks. It may sound funny to beat procrastination by procrastinating, but your mind and body can only go full-out for so long. Even professional athletes know the value of half-time. Make sure you come back from a short break ready to get back to work.

6. Take “vacations” from your work. Every employer knows that vacations are essential to the mental health and productivity of the work force. Take a night out with the family or go for an overnight getaway and leave all your work at home. Allowing yourself freedom from the work reduces the need for procrastination as an escape mechanism.

A Productive Writing Life Starting Today

Beating procrastination is not the only thing you need to do in order to achieve a productive writing life. However, taking a stance against your do-it-later-self is certainly a step in the right direction. A few other tips for productive writing include:

  • Don’t worry about the quality of your first draft. You’ll get better with editing.
  • Write a little bit every day. It’s much harder to stop procrastinating and get into the habit if you don’t practice.
  • Write what you have to in order to make a living, but try to find some time to write what you love as well.

Once you understand how to stop procrastinating, then you may be surprised at what you can accomplish. What would you like to write about today? Name at least three things that are not going to stop you from putting that idea to paper.

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