8 Best Tips for Avoiding Procrastination (Un-Blogging, Day 5)

“Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.”
Spanish Proverb

Leo Babuata says that the best procrastination tip ever is to just get started now, and he describes what will happen next:

Pay attention to your mind, as it starts to have urges to switch to another task. You will have urges to check email or Facebook or Twitter or your favorite website. You will want to play a game or make a call or do another task. Notice these urges.

But don’t move. Notice the urges, but sit still, and let them pass. Urges build up in intensity, then pass, like a wave. Let each one pass.

Now I’m gonna get personal here. I mean, um, embarrassingly honest.

In between that quotation and the above sentence… I went on facebook for longer than I care to admit, checked and responded to emails, and clicked around on Leo’s site at a few things that caught my eye. Then at the exact second that I was typing two lines above here, my husband came by and asked if I was done yet. Clearly, I have a problem with procrastination!

I’ve known about it long enough, and I’ve always made excuses (some more valid than others). Now it’s time to make a real effort.

Here are my favorite tips to avoid procrastination:

1. Just Start.

When you take the first step, you change your mindset from “This is so overwhelming” to “Heck yeah, I’m doing it!”, and taking the next step after that is infinitely easier. Then celebrate the small successes, as Jo-Ann wisely added in the comments yesterday.

2. Eat the Frog.

Tsh from Simple Mom wrote several years ago about eating your frog first thing in the morning, and it has stuck with me ever since.

3. Stay Accountable.

It’s always a good idea to find someone who can keep you accountable in your goals (someone who will actually challenge you and ask you about them).

4. Write it Down.

Whether it’s on a whiteboard, in a notebook, on an iphone. Writing it down helps solidify your intentions. Doodle it, make a list, whatever works. Plus? You get the satisfaction of checking/crossing something off, which is immensely rewarding for some people.

5. Make a Conscious Choice.

Kristen at She Who Delights reminded me that we all make choices every day. The key is to make decisions purposefully. So many of our procrastination habits are done on auto-drive. If we  find ourselves procrastinating on facebook, for example, then have a little self narrative: “Hey self! I see you’re on Facebook at the moment. Is social networking one of your goals for the day? Would you rather be doing something else?”

I can tell you right now – my answer, 95% of the time, will be “what the heck am I doing here… I’d far rather be ____ right now”.

6. Trick yourself.

I am giddy at the thought of implementing Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret, because I really believe it will actually work.

7. Reward yourself.

A classic tool for conditioning behaviour. Marissa shares that it really works for her, and I tend to think I should try it. The question is how to make a large enough cupcake supply to last through the whole day…

8. Be prepared.

If I want to make sure I get my blog post done first thing after the kids are in bed, then I should have my blank screen open and ready, other tabs closed down and saved, and an outline and/or title all ready (on paper or in my head).

If I want to take up running, I should have my running clothes and shoes laid out, my ipod ready and loaded, and a (healthy) reward snack waiting in the fridge for when I get back. And so on…

I’m planning to make some fresh goals for my days, and putting these tips to the test… I’ll keep you posted!

Which of these tips do you think would be most helpful to you? Are there any you haven’t tried before?

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Comments

  1. Marissa @becomingkindred.com says

    Great tips, I especially liked the frog analogy…it has been the thing that I have been trying to do lately with my least favorite tasks…dishes and laundry!
    And just remember rewards don’t always have to be in the form of food…although now that you mention it, I should start buying chocolate for that purpose;).
    PS. just a little house keeping note, maybe you meant to, but the link with my name goes back to your post from yesterday…yeah I had to click it just cause it was fun to click on my own name:)

  2. Jo-Ann says

    I’m going to keep this comment really short because I’m currently procrastinating (lol) but I loved reading this post. Thanks!

  3. josee says

    thank you for this blog, i needed to read this really badly. Especially that i am in school now. It is so easy to get distracted, especially that I feel out of the loop with friends because of being so busy with school. I gotta stay focus.

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