About three years ago, when the pandemic happened, we had to all go to the work-from-home model.
As someone who loves interacting with others, I quickly became disengaged. I found myself constantly battling procrastination and would delay important tasks, convincing myself to tackle them later.
The result? Stress, sleepless nights trying to play catch up, and a growing sense of frustration. My life became a mess as I blend personal and work life together in the virtual work environment.
One day, I decided that I cannot continue doing this. It’s eating me up slowly mentally and physically. I discovered strategies that helped me overcome procrastination and unleash my productivity potential. In this article, I’ll share practical tips on how to stop procrastinating and take control of your time and tasks.
Related: How to be more productive
What is Procrastination?
Procrastination is a common struggle that affects people from all walks of life. It’s the act of delaying or postponing tasks that require our attention and effort. Procrastination often stems from a combination of factors such as fear of failure, lack of motivation, perfectionism, and feeling overwhelmed.
However, by understanding these factors and implementing effective strategies, you can break free from the clutches of procrastination.
How to Stop Procrastination?
- Set Clear Goals and Priorities
- Break Tasks into Manageable Chunks
- Develop a Structured Schedule
- Have a Distraction List
- Embrace the Pomodoro Technique
- Eliminate Distractions
- Overcome Perfectionism
- Understand What Motivates You
- Seek Support and Accountability
- Train Your Focus by Meditating
1. Set Clear Goals and Priorities
One of the main reasons we procrastinate is a lack of clarity about our goals and priorities. Without clear direction, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and unsure where to start.
To overcome this, take the time to define your goals and break them down into smaller, actionable steps. Prioritize these tasks based on importance and urgency. By having a clear roadmap, you’ll eliminate confusion and provide yourself with a sense of purpose and direction.
What this looks like: Define what you want to accomplish and describe what “Done” looks like when you’ve achieved it. Write it down somewhere where you can see it every day. Don’t have more than 2 goals at a time.
2. Break Tasks into Manageable Chunks
Large, complex tasks can be intimidating and overwhelming, leading to procrastination. Instead of viewing a task as a whole, break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks.
This approach makes the task appear less daunting and allows you to focus on one step at a time. As you complete each smaller portion, you’ll gain a sense of progress and accomplishment, motivating you to continue.
What this looks like: Compile a list of manageable tasks that you want to complete each day. A manageable task is one you can finish in a reasonable time frame (15, 30, 60, or 120 minutes, instead of days, weeks, or months)
3. Develop a Structured Schedule
A well-structured schedule is crucial for combating procrastination. Start by identifying your most productive times of the day and allocate them to your most important tasks. Create a daily or weekly schedule that includes specific time slots for different activities.
Be realistic about the time needed for each task, leaving room for breaks and unexpected events. By adhering to a structured schedule, you’ll establish a routine that minimizes distractions and keeps you on track.
What this looks like: Your tasks are time bound, meaning you’ve set a specific time to aim to accomplish that specific task. Example: Finish writing the outline from 7 PM to 7:30 PM ( in 30 minutes) on Wednesday.
4. Have a Distraction List
Distraction is inevitable. Things will come up as you work and you will get distracted. If it happened, just write them down on your “Distraction List”, it can be a blank document, a sticky note, or on your phone.
After that, release them from your brain knowing that you will not forget and will return to them after completing your top priority task. This allows you to better focus on your task at hand while not forgetting the important things you have to do.
What this looks like: A list of things that came up during your focused time. If it is something urgent that you need to get done, schedule that task on your calendar and move other tasks out.
5. Embrace the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that involves breaking your work into focused intervals, typically 25 minutes each, called Pomodoros. This technique promotes focused work and provides structured breaks, helping you combat procrastination and maintain productivity throughout the day.
Note that sometimes I find 25 minutes for a cycle is too short for any deep focus work. The intervals can be set on your terms, feel free to do so, but the idea is to have a short break after a certain amount of continuous focused time.
What this looks like: Set a timer for however long you deem is appropriate for the type of work you’re doing, ideally for 30 minutes, or an hour. It’s not recommended to go beyond 2 hours as our focus usually starts diminishing around that. For every 30 minutes, take 5 minutes off, and 10 minutes break is appropriate for more extended focus. Work diligently on a task until the timer goes off. Remove all distractions. Then, start the next Pomodoro again after the break. This works very well with bullet number 3 above.
6. Eliminate Distractions
Distractions are the number one enemy of productivity and often lead to procrastination. Identify your most common distractions and take proactive steps to minimize or eliminate them. Put your phone, close unnecessary tabs on your computer, and create a dedicated workspace free from distractions.
If you find yourself getting easily distracted, consider using productivity apps or browser extensions that block certain websites or limit your access to them during focused work
What this looks like: Set up a distraction-free environment where you can focus. If you find yourself reaching for your phone constantly, make it difficult for you to grab your phone like put it in another room or somewhere that is out of your reach.
7. Overcome Perfectionism
Perfectionism can be a major roadblock to productivity. The pursuit of perfection often leads to procrastination, as we fear that our work won’t meet impossibly high standards. It’s important to understand that perfection is unattainable, and striving for it only hinders progress. Embrace the concept of “good enough” and focus on completing tasks to the best of your ability within a reasonable timeframe.
Remember, done is better than perfect.
What this looks like: Don’t feel like you have to get something perfect the first time because that is almost impossible. Those whom you think are perfect started their journey being imperfect. Let go of the worries, judgments, and self-criticism and get to work.
8. Understand What Motivates You
Motivation plays a significant role in combating procrastination. Take some time to identify what truly motivates you. Why are you doing the work that you’re doing? Who are you doing it for?
Once you’ve discovered your motivation, visualize the benefits of completing the task and set meaningful rewards for yourself. What small wins can you find in completing the task? Do it often and you will be more motivated to do it.
What this looks like: Take the time to understand what motivates you. The power of “why” is often overlooked. With a driver that is powerful enough, you can push your limits beyond your imagination.
9. Seek Support and Accountability
Sometimes, tackling procrastination requires external support. Share your goals and challenges with a trusted friend, family member, or mentor who can provide guidance and hold you accountable. Having someone who checks in on your progress and provides encouragement can be incredibly motivating.
Additionally, consider joining online communities or support groups focused on productivity and personal development. Engaging with like-minded individuals can offer valuable insights and help you stay motivated on your journey. It may also be helpful to connect with someone who is working on the same task as you to keep you motivated.
What this looks like: First define your goal and what you want to accomplish. Then, share with someone with the specific things you will do by a certain time frame. Communicate the kind of support you hope to receive from them. If you’re bold enough, publically post your goal online so everyone in your circle sees it. You will be more inclined to push yourself to do it.
10. Train Your Focus by Meditating
Research shows that meditation helps improve our attention span tremendously. I’m a firm believer in meditation myself because I’ve noticed an improvement in my ability to focus on a task. Mindfulness meditation is about being mindful and present at the moment.
What this looks like: Practice mindfulness consistently, every day for at least a month. Then, notice the difference in how much better you’re able to improve.
Procrastination can be a persistent obstacle, but with the right strategies and mindset, you can overcome it and unlock your full productivity potential.
By setting clear goals, breaking tasks into manageable chunks, developing a structured schedule, and implementing techniques like the Pomodoro Technique, you’ll create an environment conducive to focused work. Embrace imperfection, find your motivation, and seek support when needed. Give meditation a try in helping you boost your focus and productivity.
Remember, conquering procrastination is a continuous process, but by implementing these strategies consistently, you’ll gradually build productive habits that lead to success.
Start implementing these techniques today, and watch as you break free from the chains of procrastination and embark on a journey of increased productivity and personal growth.
Last, but not least, remember to celebrate the little wins along the way.