9 Productivity Tricks for Procrastinators

Woman stressedIrony: As I started to write this article, I thought, “I’ll just go play one quick Sudoku game first.”

I caught myself in the act and marched myself to my laptop.

People who say that procrastination is about laziness are probably the same people who think that anorexia is about not eating enough.

Procrastination isn’t about laziness. It’s about fear. It’s about perfectionism. It’s about overwhelm. We all experience these things!

The good news is that there are ways to get moving again.

Here are 9 of my favorite tricks to help even the worst procrastinator break the habit:

1 – When you get an idea, do some little thing to begin.

When I read Stephen King’s book On Writing, I noticed something.  I noticed that when Stephen King gets an idea, he writes it.  Immediately and imperfectly.

Most people get an idea.

Then they sit there.

They wonder if it’s a good idea.

Then, they wonder if it’s a good idea some more.

Got an idea? Begin it now!

2 – All hail small chunks of time!

Lots of us complain about having no time. My guess is that we all have lots of time. It just doesn’t happen to be all at once.

Are you waiting for many hours of spare time to begin your idea, your project, or your taxes?   Stop waiting!  Learn to use the spare half hour that comes up here and there. (I gave myself 45 minutes to write this article just to take my own advice.)

3 – Agree to do it badly.

Set a goal to do it badly. Set a goal to show up.  Let go of doing it ALL, or doing it WELL.

Some of my coaching clients’ biggest victories have a lot more to do with getting over perfectionism and fear, than they do about getting it all done perfectly.

4 – Commit aloud.

Call a friend and say something like this: “I’m going to spend the next hour working on creating my new product.” Then go do it.

Call the friend after the half hour and make her congratulate you. Repeat daily.

5 – Define quantities.

Nebulous goals make for nebulous results.

“I’m gonna get my office organized” is a lot like saying, “We oughtta do something about Global Warming.”

Most procrastinators have a hard time defining quantities. We think everything needs to be done NOW.

When are you going to do it? For how long? Which part of your office? The file cabinet? Or your desk?

Define the goal and acknowledge its completion.

6 – Install this System Upgrade into your Mental Hard Drive: Less is More.

Have fewer goals. Have no more than three priorities for a week.

Why?

Because you’re not lazy. You’re just trying to do too much.

Find out what it feels like to accomplish one thing instead of not quite getting to everything.  Wow – what a difference this makes!

7 – Do it first.

My very first coach made me write first thing in the morning. He told me to schedule the 2-hour chunk as my first activity upon waking.

Why?

“Because you’re telling the universe that this is your priority. And then the universe lines up everything to align with your priority.”

Action grounds your priorities. It makes them real. It also makes your day easier because you’re not wasting energy thinking about this thing you’re supposed to be doing.

8 – Avoid “nose-bleed” activities.

Email, voicemail, web stats – any activity that bleeds itself into your whole day becomes a non-activity.  It becomes a nose-bleed.

When you do it all the time, you never complete it. You just let it slowly drain the very life force from you.  Define times for these activities. Then, turn off your email, your cell phone, your web stats, until that time comes.

9 – Don’t ask how you “feel” about doing the activity.

Have you ever committed to getting fit? And then when the alarm goes off, you lie in bed thinking, “Do I really feel like going to the gym?” (Like you even have to ask!)

Change this pattern. Make your decision the night before. Commit to getting up and going right to the gym, the computer, the blank canvas. Don’t have coffee and sigh and think, “I’ll probably feel more like it at lunch time.” You won’t!

If it’s a priority, don’t waste time asking yourself how you feel about doing it. Feelings are an easy out.

———————————

There. I did it.

I wrote this article.

And now I don’t even want to play Sudoku! How about that?

———————————

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…Because, it’s impossible to manage your time, but you can manage your SELF. And I’m going to teach you how to do that.

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Comments

  1. says

    Hi Christine,
    Love this post! I particularly like point #7. I’ve just started doing this and I feel it’s made a tremendous difference.
    Great tips overall!
    Jeannie

  2. Valanda says

    I, too, love this post as it very much describes me. You have provided some very attainable pointers that I will be including in my life. Thanks a bunch for writing this blog.

  3. says

    Wow! What a great list of tips. I particularly love #6: Have fewer goals. Have no more than three priorities for a week.
    Why?
    Because you’re not lazy. You’re just trying to do too much.
    It took me YEARS to figure this one out, but when I did, boy was that liberating!
    Thank you for providing me the opportunity to validate that I’m not crazy!
    Wishing you well-
    Nanette

    • says

      Right there with you Nanette! For some of my clients and students, the minute they set that bar just a little lower so they can actually COMPLETE something – their whole lives change!

  4. says

    Woah! Great inspiration and tips. I have had a non-procrastination week by coincidence and it has been far from perfect, but I’ve made a start and this article has really really helped. Thank you.

  5. says

    Wow. #7 really resonates. So, if there’s something I’d like to have as the priority in my life, I should make a point of doing it first? Cool! Tomorrow’s Saturday, perfect day to start on that (not procrastinating, it’s just… it’s 10PM now. Day’s over!). My nosebleed is FarmVille. “Just going to check my crops real quick—” Four hours later… Great tips, all of them! Thank you again, Christine!

  6. Alyson says

    It’s great to read this article, thank you. :) It’s also so very confirming, because I can see my progress over the last couple of years (of doing several things you mention). Besides perfectionism and overwhelm, my biggest obstacle used to be that I had trouble estimating time frames, so I would “schedule” about four hours worth of goals into a 2-hour window. Now THAT can lead to some serious anxiety. I have a book to recommend. It changed my life! :) Check out David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. Amazing book! Best of luck everyone. . . <3!

  7. says

    Thanks for sharing! You know, I want to practice life coaching for some time. But kept procrastinating.
    I finally did something these few days! That’s exactly achieved by applying #1-4! I started my own coaching project! It’s small now though. My idea has not yet been completely implemented. The idea might not be running very smoothly at the beginning for sometime! But I know these are what I should do:
    1 – When you get an idea, do some little thing to begin.
    2 – All hail small chunks of time!
    3 – Agree to do it badly.
    4 – Commit aloud.

    Hope everyone here would do something to fight your procrastination shortly too! Good luck~

  8. says

    Thank you, Christine, for this well written post. Exactly what I needed to begin my week with. :) You nailed the most important points, thanks!

  9. says

    I can’t thank you enough. #2~Take small chunks… baby steps. A little is better than nothing. #4~Commit out loud. Simple and progressive. #8~ Nose bleed. Now on to narrowing down all my ideas. Thanks for your time. I’m very grateful!

  10. says

    Love the tips, Christine, particularly #9. Telling myself I don’t really “feel like” walking / writing / finishing a job usually seems like all the permission I need not to do it. So I’m going to stop debating with myself how I feel and just do what I committed already I wanted to get done.

  11. says

    Ugh, I feel like you are in my head, particularly the point about perfectionism and fear – it’s been paralyzingly me! Thank you so much for these great strategies.

  12. says

    I am new to your blog and have really enjoyed reading through some of your posts so far. Though I don’t consider myself a procrastinator, It has been a problem lately as I try to take my business to the next level. I really appreciate reading these strategies and am inspired to put them into action. I can’t wait to read more!

    • says

      Welcome Wendy! And yes, this is a common occurrence! Right before you take your business to the next level, you will often meet the greatest amount of resistance. It’s subtle – but it’s all that mindset stuff (and fear) — and it’s worth taking the time to be aware of it and continue to move forward!

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