I recently watched an episode of The Simpsons where Homer said, “Why do today, what you can do tomorrow“.
If we’re all being honest, I’m sure there’s been a point in our lives where we’ve been guilty of adopting this mindset of putting something off.
With that in mind, here are some tips on how to change your mindset and behaviour to stop procrastinating and become more productive today!
1. Break Large Projects into Smaller Modules
“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
A common cause of procrastination is that people feel overwhelmed by a big assignment or complex project.
How can you overcome this?
Instead of thinking about finishing the whole assignment or project, start by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable parts.
It will make the project less intimidating and when you tick something off as done, you’ll get a buzz from a sense of achievement.
Also, when you’ve done a task, don’t be afraid to take a break and grab a coffee or some fresh air.
You’ve earned it!
Tip: Tackle your most difficult task at the start of your day when you’re at your most energised. You’ll feel great when it’s done and out of the way.
2. Assess Your Environment
When you sit down to do a difficult task or assignment, choose the room or location where you work best and that has limited distractions.
Secondly, this may be difficult to hear but you use your smartphone too much. I’m as guilty of this as anyone.
However, when we need to get shit done, we need to minimise distractions… And your smartphone is usually the distraction that eats up the most time.
If possible, consider turning it off or disconnecting from the Internet. Don’t trust yourself, put it in another room to remove the temptation.
3. Use a Timer
When you work against the clock, you’re more focused and more productive.
The Pomodoro Technique was founded with this belief and involves working in 20-minute sprints.
You can try out this strategy using an online browser add-on such as Marinara and see if it helps you get more done.
If you find 20 minutes is too long, try working for 15 minutes with no distractions.
4. Involve a Friend
Getting the moral support of a friend or colleague can help you get going or keep going on a task.
Checking in with a friend or colleague about a task you’re working on will give you support and offer new ideas and perspectives.
This also works for me when I’m at the gym. If I’m with my training buddy, I’m more motivated and less likely to miss a session. We give each other encouragement and put more effort in than we would if we trained alone.
5. Change Your Mindset
You know best how your mood changes when you procrastinate over a big project or task.
But try to not get stressed out or angry with yourself — it’s counter-productive and you’ll waste valuable energy.
Instead, focus on what you need to do!
Change your mindset to “I can and will do this” and repeat it to yourself over and over again for positive reinforcement.
Tip: Using your name can make the process of self-talking more effective. For example, “Chris, stay calm. You know you can do this”.
6. Reward Yourself
So, you’ve decided for the next two hours, you’re going to focus and work on a difficult task.
A good strategy for keeping procrastination at bay is to say to yourself, at the end of those two hours, I’m going to reward myself.
This can be anything that keeps you motivated: go for a walk, meet a friend for a coffee or watch an episode of your favourite show.
Having a reward at the end will help you to keep going when the going gets tough.
Tip: Listening to music can help some people become more productive.
7. Think Like a President
Dwight Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States. He lived a very productive life and his time management and productivity methods are highly regarded.
His most famous productivity strategy is known as the Eisenhower Box (or Eisenhower Matrix) — it’s a simple decision-making tool that you can use right now.
The Eisenhower Matrix is made up of four categories:
- Urgent and important – tasks you will do immediately.
- Important, but not urgent – tasks you will schedule to do later.
- Urgent, but not important – tasks you will delegate to someone else.
- Neither urgent nor important – tasks that you will remove.
So, when you need to priortise tasks, try using this strategy. It works well with tasks to be completed today, this week and longer-term goals.
Tameday includes projects and lists where I can categorise everything I’m working on that month into relevant sections. Like the Eisenhower Box, it’s great for setting my short and long-term goals.
Reminders and to-do lists are very useful aids to avoid procrastination. Tameday is great for reminding you of an important to-do or event in your work or personal life.
8. Avoid Multitasking
Contrary to popular thinking, multitasking is actually something you want to avoid.
Whilst, you may feel like you’re being more productive, focusing on one task at a time and giving it your full attention is actually more efficient.
By doing this you give your brain time to organise your thoughts and it helps you from feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
Multitasking also applies to distractions such as social media or email.
According to one study, it can take us up to 23 minutes to get back to work after checking emails… Yikes!
Regardless of what strategy you decide to adopt, stopping procrastination is important for getting more done in your work and personal life.
If you’re constantly putting off tasks, now is the best time to overcome your procrastinating mindset and start working smarter.
If you want to improve the way you or your team works, check out our team collaboration software where you can keep documents, to-dos, chat and projects organised in one place!
Related: How to Focus and Get More Done