Overcome Procrastination: 23 Effective Tactics to
Boost Your Productivity

 

We’ve all been there — staring at a mountain of tasks and somehow ending up watching Trump or Gary Vee videos on the internet or reorganizing our email folders for the third time in a week.

 

Procrastination, the act of delaying or postponing tasks, is a common phenomenon that we all experience. But when it starts to hinder our productivity and stress us out, it’s time to address it head-on.

While procrastination is often painted as an enemy of productivity, it’s not an inherent character flaw. It’s a habit that we develop over time. The good news is habits can be changed.

 

This article delves into 23 effective tactics to manage procrastination and boost productivity. Whether you’re a student struggling with study schedules, a professional juggling multiple projects, or simply someone seeking to make the most out of their time, there’s something useful for you here.

 

Remember, the aim is not to eliminate procrastination entirely but to manage it effectively. Procrastination is often a sign that something needs a change. By understanding and addressing the root causes of procrastination, you can:

– develop effective strategies to keep it in check,

– improve your productivity, and

– gain a greater sense of control over your time and life.

 

Let’s dive in!


1. Understand the Imperfections

 

If you’ve been a procrastinator for as long as you can remember, there might be hidden reasons for this behaviour. Often, it could be a result of fear of failure or not meeting high standards set by authorities like our parents and pastors during our formative years. It’s crucial to understand that true perfection is not attainable and making mistakes is a natural part of learning and growing.

Instead of saying, “I must do this perfectly,” reframe your thought to, “I will give this my best shot.”


2. Establish Visual Reminders

 

Implementing visual reminders can be a practical strategy to combat procrastination. These could be sticky notes on your workspace or digital reminders on your phone or computer. For instance, a post-it saying “Finish the presentation today!” can serve as an effective reminder.

Remember to periodically move these reminders around to maintain their effectiveness.

      


3. Be Specific in Your Approach

 

Vague thinking often leads to procrastination because it lacks a clear action plan. Instead of a broad statement like “I need to work on the project,” be more specific – “I need to complete the first section of the project today.” This method makes the task seem more manageable.

      
4. Differentiate Excuses from Reasons

 

Pay attention to the reasons you give when you delay a task. Often, you might find these are not reasons but excuses. “I work better under pressure” could be an excuse masking procrastination. Recognize this pattern and remind yourself that it only adds unnecessary stress.

      
5. Form Consistent Habits

 

If you frequently struggle to complete regular tasks, forming a habit around it can be beneficial. It’s widely believed it takes about 21 days to form a habit. Once you form a habit, the task becomes part of your routine, reducing the likelihood of procrastination.

      
6. Manage Waning Motivation

 

When you start a new habit, there will be an initial surge of motivation, which might decline over time. If you notice this, remind yourself that it’s a normal process. A simple affirmation like “It’s okay, I can keep going” can help you stay on track.

       
7. Restrict Your Task List

 

A long list of tasks can be overwhelming and might provoke procrastination. Limit your daily list to three main tasks and only add more once you’ve completed these. This makes your workload manageable and reduces the urge to delay tasks.

      
8. Adopt the ‘Do It Now’ Attitude

 

Small tasks can pile up and become overwhelming if not addressed promptly. Adopt a ‘do it now’ attitude for small tasks that can be completed quickly. This approach helps reduce mental clutter associated with pending tasks.

However, ensure you do not do this at the cost of other more important tasks.

      
9. Implement the Buddy System

 

Pairing up with a friend or colleague can be an effective way to overcome procrastination. If you find yourself delaying tasks, get a ‘buddy’ and commit to holding each other accountable. For example, if you’re struggling with regular exercise, a workout buddy can keep you motivated. This could even be a real human being via
Zoom sessions or an on-demand fitness coach on your workout app.

  
10. Track Your Time

 

If you often find your day slipping away, try tracking your time. There are numerous apps that can help you understand how you’re spending your time. This can help identify where you’re procrastinating and make necessary adjustments. I find Microsoft Outlook provides me the format through which I can structure my time while also providing me with weekly insights on my productivity.

 
11. Celebrate Your Achievements

 

Recognizing and celebrating your achievements is crucial. Each task you complete brings you a step closer to your goal. Pause at the end of each day to appreciate what you’ve achieved. This can boost your motivation and reduce the tendency to procrastinate.

 
12. Practice Self-Compassion

 

As someone who has struggled with procrastination, it’s crucial to let go of self-criticism. Negative self-talk can lead to avoidance behaviour and perpetuate the habit of delaying tasks. Replace the critical inner voice with words of understanding and compassion. You’re human and it’s okay to procrastinate sometimes.

 
13. Apply the Reverse Parkinson’s Law

 

Parkinson’s Law — that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion” — can inadvertently encourage procrastination. Try reversing it: if a task should take two hours, give yourself only one hour to complete it. This sense of urgency can help you focus and work more efficiently.

 
14. Identify and Tame Time Stealers

 

Tiny distractions can steal significant chunks of time, leading to procrastination. These include constantly checking emails, taking numerous coffee or smoke breaks, and the worst – social media. Monitor your activities for a few days to identify these time-stealers. Once identified, limit these activities to specific times of the day or set a time limit.

For instance, only do social media at the beginning and end of the day, or limit checking emails to ten minutes every two hours. Use your phone alarm to limit these brief sessions.

 
15. Control Mobile Distractions

 

The incessant alerts from your mobile device can be a major distraction. If you’re constantly checking your phone, consider placing it in another room while you’re working. Utilize the ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode on your smartphone to mute notifications during your deep-work hours. Prioritize incoming calls and other important notifications through via your phone settings.

 
16. Set Boundaries

 

Unless you’re awaiting an extremely important message, most notifications can wait, including unexpected calls or office walk-ins. Establishing boundaries around your working space, especially while working from home or in busy office spaces, can significantly improve your productivity.

 
17. Break Big Tasks into Smaller Ones

 

Large tasks can seem daunting and induce procrastination. To tackle this, break down big tasks into smaller, manageable parts. This approach reduces the perceived difficulty of the task and makes it easier to start. Instead of trying to write a whole report in one sitting, aim to write one section at a time.

 
18. Use AI Tools and Technology to Your Advantage

 

There are numerous productivity tools available that can help manage procrastination. From Artificial Intelligence tools like ChatGPT to digital calendars, to-do list apps, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and project management tools can help you stay organised and manage your time more efficiently. Take advantage of these resources to streamline your tasks and maintain focus.

 
19. Practice Mindfulness

 

Mindfulness involves staying present and focused on the task at hand and can be a powerful tool against procrastination. By paying attention to your actions and thoughts, you can catch yourself when you start to procrastinate and gently guide your focus back to the task.

 
20. Establish a Routine

 

Having a routine can significantly reduce procrastination. When certain tasks become a routine part of your day, you’re less likely to procrastinate on them. Try to establish a daily routine that incorporates your tasks and stick to it.

How different is this to tactic number “5. Form Consistent Habits” above? “A habit is a behaviour you do often and regularly, so that it becomes nearly or completely involuntary.”

A routine is a series of behaviours that you consciously do repetitively, often to achieve a goal. For example, a 30-minute workout or reading a few book pages each day is a habit. Doing it as part of getting ready for work every day makes it your morning routine.

 

      21. Get Moving

 

Physical activity can help clear the mind and reduce the tendency to procrastinate. If you find yourself stuck in a cycle of procrastination, take a brief walk, do some stretches, or engage in any form of physical activity. The change of pace can refresh your mind and help you regain focus.

 
22. Create a Conducive Environment

 

Your physical environment can significantly impact your tendency to procrastinate. A cluttered, distracting environment can make it hard to focus. Try to create a clean, quiet, and comfortable workspace that encourages productivity and reduces the chances of procrastination.

 
23. Build a Reward System

 

Building a reward system can help motivate you to complete tasks. For instance, after completing a significant task, reward yourself with a short break, a treat, or anything that you find enjoyable. This positive reinforcement can make task completion more appealing and reduce procrastination.

Always remember that procrastination is not a character flaw, but a habit that can be changed. With understanding, patience, and the right strategies, you can effectively manage it and improve your productivity.

All the best. 

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