12 easy ways to stop procrastinating and get shit done
Ever heard the saying, “Never put off until tomorrow what can be done today?” It's very true, and with over 25% of us admitting that we regularly procrastinate, it's easy to see why this is a very real problem!
The word procrastinate actually has its roots in the Latin word 'procrastinat', which means 'deferred until the morning', so it's not just a modern affliction, although procrastination is becoming increasingly common thanks to the invention of the internet and the popularity of social media. It's thought that it could be linked to the ability to regulate your life, so those who struggle to manage their time and be disciplined at work could also be prone to procrastination. Good news girls; it seems we might be better at getting shit done than men, as 54% of procrastinators are men (1)!
But by putting stuff off for tomorrow, it seems we often pay a high price in the form of increased stress and anxiety levels (2). So if you're guilty of switching off your PC and promising yourself you'll 'do it tomorrow', here's how to stop and make sure you get shit done (avoid Facebook, in other words)! We promise you'll be happier and less stressed as a result.
#1. Preparation is key
Ever sat down to do something and realised you needed a pen, a notepad or even a cup of green tea? Make sure you have everything to hand that you need and you'll be less likely to get distracted. Whether that's a pen, notepad, healthy cereal bar, cup of tea – the choice is yours.
#2. Give yourself an incentive
We're only human, and we all need incentives to get shit done. If you're anything like us, regular rewards are what keeps us going – this could be anything from a social outing with friends to a 5-minute break for a healthy, protein packed snack. By rewarding yourself, you can make tasks easier, particularly those tasks which seem epic in nature, such as writing a dissertation for university. Break the task down into steps and give yourself a reward after each one is completed – it could be something as small as 5 minutes to check out what's happening on Facebook.
#3. Don't fall at the first hurdle
If your morning hasn't gotten off to the best start (i.e. it's noon and you're still in your Pjs watching breakfast TV), don't think the day is a failure and write it off completely. Instead of giving up, promise yourself you'll start afresh after lunchtime and tackle your priority tasks; don't beat yourself up.
#4. Set yourself a strict schedule
By scheduling what needs to be done (and accounting for regular breaks), you'll be less likely to procrastinate and become distracted by other things. We know that life often gets in the way of schedules and plans, but having an outline for your day, particularly when you work from home, can help you to stick to a tough schedule and ensures you have planned enough time to get everything done.
#5. Break it down
Sometimes a work or study task can seem so daunting because of its sheer size. Ever looked at a 50,000 word paper and just wanted to have a nap? We feel you! Why not try breaking it up into smaller, achievable segments? By doing this, you can reduce your stress levels and create manageable steps to follow without worrying about the task as a whole. For example, your first goal could be to write a heading and the intro paragraphs of your paper by noon, after which you can reward yourself with a healthy, delicious salad for lunch. Easy!
#6. Just get started
The hardest part of any task is just getting started, and once we start on something, we're less likely to stress about it and find it unpleasant. Putting things off can create stress and anxiety which could make it harder to sleep, so you'll feel more tired and even less likely to get things done.
Try writing down what you're NOT going to do. For example if your task if working out your accounts for the year, write down “I am not going to do my accounts for the year.” Then follow it with a statement of a smaller task you will do that will take you one step closer to your goal, for example, “I will sort all my bank statements into date order.” Do this a couple of times a day and you will soon get the whole task done, without even realising it!
#7. Make a commitment
Did you know that by committing publicly to a task, we are more likely to stick with it? (3) So social media can come in handy after all for procrastinators – after all, nobody wants to be thought of as a failure. Post a status on Facebook, tweet about your goal or even text a friend and commit publicly to your task. You'll soon be ticking it off your to-do list!
#8. Write down what the outcome will be
If you're procrastinating about a workout, such as going for a run or to the gym, a good way to get past the mental block is to write down what the outcome of completing the task will be. For example, “If I go for a run I will feel happier and healthier, then I can have a post-workout snack.” Seeing your goal and reward written down in this way can really help to motivate you, and if you need any extra motivation, check out our favourite running mantras!
#9. Get some help
Don't be afraid to ask friends, families and professionals for help with your goals. For example, if you're struggling to motivate yourself to workout, why not work with a personal trainer or rope in a fitness buddy to come running with you? Get social support from friends – if you work from home, meet up with others who do the same and motivate each other. Or seek the inspiration you need with mantras and self-help books. Once you start motivating yourself, it will seem easier!
#10. See yourself differently
If you see yourself as a procrastinator, this can affect your self-image, and it's likely to become a self-fulfilling prophecy as you'll start to view procrastinating as acceptable behaviour. So view yourself differently and reframe those negative assumptions you've made about yourself. Instead, think of yourself as the person who get shit done!
A good way to do this is to get a pen and paper and write down 5 times in the past when you didn't procrastinate, and what the outcome was. This can help you to see that you're capable of meeting your goals.
#11. Play a trick on your mind
We already know that the hardest part of any task is getting started, and that breaking tasks down into smaller sections can make things easier. But what if you could trick your mind into doing something? Tell yourself you're not going to do the task, you're just going to do a tiny part of it. This helps you to build towards a bigger goal.
#12. Fake it to make it
You know how they say if you're not feeling happy, smile anyway? Just the act of smiling makes you start to feel less gloomy, and happier! So if you're procrastinating and feeling like you really can't be bothered, just fake motivation. Tell yourself you'll just do this for a few minutes, you're not really tackling the task. Once you get into it, it will be hard to stop! This goes for every area of your life; dieting, exercise, even work. Try it if you don't believe us!
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