Here are seven simple hacks to help you to stop procrastinating and get on and make progress in getting stuff done. We’re all individuals and, with personal productivity, it’s really important to work out what works for you. And to do that, you usually have to try a few options. Once you’ve found what works, keep doing it.
Tip #1: Pick Something Small
I’m a big fan of taking small daily actions. We often procrastinate because we see too much in front of us. We just feel overwhelmed and we don’t know where to start. It’s a coping mechanism, but not a very productive one.
You’ve probably heard the analagy about eating an elephant one bite at a time, just like getting those big projects done. So, break the project down into small tasks and then start by taking the first step.
Once you get going, momentum kicks in and it’s often easier to do the next step and keep going. I often go one step further and add the daily action to my todo list as a recurring task to ensure I take that action on most days.
Tip #2: Set A Timer And Go
Have you tried using a timer to push through your procrastination? It can really help you to get started on something. Your phone has a timer on it, as do most smart watches, or you can use a kitchen timer.
Set it for fifteen or twenty minutes to allow you to get started and chip away at a task that you’ve been procrastinating on. It can work for any task. And, often creates that initial momentum to get you working on a task for longer that you originally planned.
What you’re doing here is encouraging yourself to start a task. If this works for you then consider using, what’s called, the Pomodoro Technique to continue using a timer to avoid procrastination.
Tip #3: Incentivise Yourself to Make Progress
This might be just the motivation that you need. Maybe work on a less than interesting task that you have been putting off and then reward yourself with an episode of your favourite TV show. Or promise yourself a new jumper once you’ve finished painting your bedroom.
Decide what’s going to best motivate you and go for it. When you get tempted to put your tasks off, keep reminding yourself of the reward that you’ve promised yourself once they are done. If incentivising yourself is what motivates you, your procrastination will be gone (ok, better, maybe not gone!).
Tip #4: Find An Accountability Partner
It’s amazing how much working with someone else can help you to break through those procrastination barriers! Again, find what works for you. You might have a friend who wants to work together and create that accountability. Sharing what you want to get done and then checking in to confirm you’ve achieved it is really helpful in ensuring that you take action.
Or you might join a mastermind group, like my CALM Platinum Mastermind to get group accountability. As well as the more ongoing accountability check-ins via Slack, we have a ‘get it done’ session every week where we keep each other accountable in delivering some project work.
Tip #5: Measure Your Progress
Measuring progress can be really motivational and can often mean the difference between keeping going or not. For example, when you are trying to lose weight, you can’t see on a daily basis the effect that your actions are having. But, when you weigh or measure yourself at some point after you’ve taken the required actions, that’s when you see the difference.
Take that principle into everything you do and this hack can really help you to get going on your tasks and keep taking that action. For each project, work out the best way to measure and track your progress. It might mean making a chart, or using a spreadsheet or keeping a journal. Whichever suits you best, find a way to measure your progress and use it to motivate yourself to keep going.
Tip #6: Remind Yourself Of Your Why
There’s a reason why you need to do whatever that task is that you keep putting off. Make sure you know what it is and that you refer back to it on a regular basis. Write it down and keep it close. Look at it every day and use it to keep you taking that action.
And remember, if you don’t know the ‘why’ then maybe you shouldn’t be doing the task!
Tip #7: Just Start
I’ve saved the best for last. It’s the easiest but also the most powerful. Just get started. That’s right, sometimes all you have to do is just get moving in the right direction. Do something. Do anything. Even if it’s something really small. If doesn’t have to be the best next step, it just needs to be done.
Often that can be the thing that just gets you going and building momentum from there becomes easier and that procrastination goes out of the window!