I’m a procrastinator. But I’m on the road to recovery. Here are a few things I’ve done to help me beat procrastination:
The first and greatest tool in helping me overcome procrastination has been making to-do lists. I have daily, weekly, yearly, and even longer term (lifely?) lists.
This reminds me what I have to do, when I have to do it, and what I should be working towards.
Having a list of things to do keeps me focused, plus it feels good ticking things off.
Do this however suits you best. I have previously kept a list in the Notes app on my phone, but have recently changed to jotting them down in a little notepad as I find I can text in my phone quite absentmindedly, but when I write them down they tend to ingrain better in my head. Plus, when going to my phone with the intention of looking at my list and then getting to work, it’s easy to get sidetracked and end up 50 deep in Instagram comments reading people argue over whether Donald Trump is indeed the love child of Pol Pot and Cruella De Vil. (I never participate in these senseless discussions FYI, but do sometimes find myself engrossed in them for 20 decadent minutes and then needing a shower and a cry afterwards.)
Be Less Indulgent
In the spirit of Brick: I love naps.
If I have time I will find myself just curling up and closing my eyes and drifting away to a world of blessed tranquility. This is perfectly fine once or twice a week, maybe on a Sunday. But when I find myself at lunchtime on a Tuesday waking up from my third nap since arising, it becomes a problem.
See, I do a lot of my work from home. Writing, planning, programming, emails, texts, check-ins, social media, this is all stuff that I will often do either before I go to, or after I return from the gym. It becomes so much easier to procrastinate when you’re at home. I mean the couch is right there, seducing me with her cushion-y bosom. And oh, there’s Friends reruns on from 10am through to 2pm!? That’ll do nicely. Sure, I’ve only seen them 5 million times before.
If I think I have nothing to do (even though I always have things to do) you bet your ass I will nap. It’s like a default setting, like how your laptop goes to sleep if you don’t use it in a couple of minutes.
Having a list keeps me focused and means that I don’t indulge those naps and old 90s/00s comedy repeats. Which leads me to my next point:
Have A Designated Workspace
We have just recently set up a little office space in our house. It’s upstairs, away from the couch and away from the tv, for both me and my wife to retreat to when we have a project to work on. This is where I now go to get shit done.
And you know what, I’m so much more productive when I’m there. When I sit down at the desk, I’m there to work, I don’t sit there for any other reason. Unlike the dining table or the couch or the porch or wherever, all these places have other functions. The desk is where I work.
The same goes for the gym. It’s easy when I have some time between clients to sit in the kitchen where there is food and often other colleagues to chat with. But I like to use this time productively when I have it, as I then have less work to do at home. So I make a conscious decision to sit in the office and work on programming or whatever has to be done. Antisocial? Maybe. Productive? Definitely.
There is an expression: Time is our most valuable resource. I honestly believe this. It’s the one thing you can’t recover once you’ve lost it, but you can spend it and invest it wisely.
I still struggle with procrastination from time to time, but I have gotten a helluva lot better these past few years. Hopefully these tips can help you too.
Life Performance Training