When it comes to productivity, most of us suffer from procrastination more often than we’d like to admit. And the thing is, it can get difficult to stop procrastinating and get stuff done once we get used to putting things off.
If you’re not familiar with this concept, procrastination is the art of postponing and delaying tasks.
After years of trying to improve my productivity, I got used to applying some practical time-management tips.
I also highly benefited from techniques that help me be more efficient and productive.
However, from time to time, I still find it very difficult to stop procrastinating.
Procrastination is a real productivity killer and can add a lot of stress to your life. But I’ve found that certain habits help me stop procrastinating and get stuff done.
They’ve made a huge difference in my life since I started applying them daily. That’s why I wanted to share them with you today!
Here are 10 ways to stop procrastinating and get stuff done!
1 – Understand why you are procrastinating
There can be many reasons why you are procrastinating when trying to get things done.
I think that to tackle the problem of procrastination, we need to know why we are doing it.
Are you afraid of doing something? Do you hate doing this task? Are you sad? Are you tired? Do you fear the consequences of you doing this task?
With time, I found that when we procrastinate, it’s mainly because of fear. You may be afraid of not succeeding in what you want to do.
For instance, you may want to start a business but keep putting it off because you’re too afraid that you’ll fail.
Or maybe, you fear that you won’t do the task perfectly and that you’ll make mistakes.
Another common reason why you might be procrastinating is that you’re afraid of experiencing discomfort.
Discomfort is not an enjoyable place to be. So you are putting things off because why would you go out of your comfort zone, right?
Fear can prevent us from doing things and achieving our goals.
Once you understand the reason why you are procrastinating, ask yourself whether it is a rational reason.
After reflection, you’ll probably realize that the reasons for your procrastination aren’t so rational.
And that it doesn’t make any sense to procrastinate any longer because of it.
2 – Ditch perfectionism
Sometimes, when we need to do something, we put it off because we fear that we’ll do it imperfectly.
The perfectionist in us can take over and prevent us from actually taking action.
Convincing yourself that you need to do your tasks perfectly is a good way to kill your motivation and productivity.
It can make the whole task overwhelming to start and to do. As a result, we tend to procrastinate, or worse, we might even never get to it.
So we need to ditch the perfectionists in ourselves and embrace our imperfections!
Accept that you are human and that if you make a mistake, it’s okay. It’s okay if your essay isn’t perfect.
It’s okay if your house isn’t 100% sparkling clean after you did your household chores.
And it doesn’t matter if the dinner you made for Christmas isn’t the best you’ve ever made.
Everybody makes mistakes and no one is perfect. Accepting that you’re allowed to do things imperfectly will take a lot of pressure off of you.
This will help you get to work more easily. I love the saying: Done is better than perfect. It is SO true!
I often used to fall into the perfectionism trap. But one day, I realized that it makes me procrastinate on way too many things.
It is more important to quickly accomplish the things we need to do than to do them perfectly someday.
As Janet Dailey said, “someday is not a day of the week“. So ditch perfectionism to stop procrastinating and get stuff done!
I also truly believe that ditching perfectionism is a habit that you should break if you want to live your best life!
3 – Stay away from short-term distractions
When you aren’t motivated to do a given task, having distractions around you is the best way for you to procrastinate.
If you have your phone around, you’ll easily find excuses to check social media or your emails.
Or you’ll suddenly want to watch a video or you’ll start a conversation with a friend. Every excuse works.
But, if you want to stop procrastinating and get stuff done, you have to force yourself to stay away from distractions.
Put your phone on airplane mode or let it in another room. Switch off your notifications. Turn off the TV or the music in the background.
Ask your family members to let you work on your tasks for a certain amount of time, without them interrupting you.
Have a calm environment to help you focus on the task, whatever it might be.
Having no distractions will force you to start working on your tasks because you won’t be able to find excuses to put things off.
4 – The 5-second rule
I found this rule online several years ago, and when I did, it clicked with me.
When we feel pulled to do something, our brain often finds excuses for us not to do it. So we need to act before our brain tells us not to.
The creator of the 5-second rule, Mel Robbins, explains it as follows.
“When you feel yourself hesitate before doing something that you know you should do, count 5-4-3-2-1-GO and move towards action. If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it”.
I love this rule because I find it to be super useful when I feel like procrastinating.
When you count 5-4-3-2-1, you don’t allow your brain to create excuses that prevent you from taking action.
It just doesn’t have the time and the focus to. And once you start the action, you easily gain momentum and keep working on the task.
When you gain momentum, you often find that the task isn’t so horrible to do. You may want to do more and complete it.
The great thing is that this rule makes you start without thinking too much about the task. It makes the process a lot easier.
I find it to be one of the best ways to stop procrastinating and get stuff done quickly and efficiently.
5 – Create short to-do lists
Writing down our tasks for the day is a necessary step for us to start doing things and to stop putting them off.
If we only rely on our memory to remember what needs to get done, we may forget about certain tasks. This situation easily results in procrastination.
Writing down what you need to do is a tangible way to help you decide what you need to accomplish.
Personally, crossing things off my lists is what excites me the most. It’s so satisfying and motivates me to do more!
So don’t forget to make lists of things to do every single day to make sure that you know your tasks.
Writing them down the night before is also a great way to be able to get to your tasks quickly the next day.
You’re not wasting time thinking too much about them and you’ll have a clearer vision. And there’s less chance for you to find excuses for not doing them.
However, try to create small to-do lists with only a few items on it.
Having lists that are way too long can quickly overwhelm and discourage you, and you’ll probably end up procrastinating.
On the other hand, if you only have 3 things on your list, you’ll find it easier to choose what to do. And you’ll actually get it done.
Long to-do lists can also make you choose the less important tasks first.
Because when you have too many choices, you are more likely to pick the easiest ones first. Which leads you to procrastinate on more important ones.
Short to-do lists are the way to go!
6 – Commit to working for only 10 minutes on a task
When you’re not motivated to do anything, allow yourself to work on the task for only 5 or 10 minutes. That’s all. It’s nothing, right?
No matter how hard the task is, knowing that you only need to work on it for 10 minutes will make it seem doable.
This will motivate you to start the task and stop procrastinating on it. And doing a task is often not as painful and difficult as we imagined it to be before starting.
The great thing is that once you start a task, chances are you’ll want to continue working on it after 5 or 10 minutes.
If you don’t, it’s okay, stop working. But I’m sure that you will enter a state of flow.
You’ll feel inspired and you will want to get the task complete because you already put the effort into getting into it.
And you might as well finish it since you started it.
7 – Break down long and hard tasks into smaller and easier ones
If you have a project that will take several hours or days to achieve, break it down into smaller tasks.
Knowing that you need to do long and hard tasks can discourage you from taking action on them.
It’s very daunting to know that you need to work for hours, if not days, to start observing the results of your work. Therefore, you are very likely to procrastinate on the task.
On the other hand, breaking it down into smaller tasks is way more motivating.
You’ll quickly realize that you are getting things done and you’ll have the impression that you are productive.
This will motivate you, and these tasks are way easier to start doing. I think that it is one of the best ways to finally stop procrastinating and get stuff done!
8 – If it takes less than 5 minutes to do, why don’t you do it now?
Sometimes, we may find ourselves procrastinating on small tasks that only require a few minutes of work.
When we think about it, it’s not rational to take more time waiting and thinking about doing a task, than actually doing it.
So, if a task takes less than 5 minutes to accomplish, force yourself to do it now.
It will only be several minutes of work and then, you’ll feel accomplished and it will be out of your mind. This tip helps me do everyday tasks around the house.
It is very effective because, throughout the day, we can accumulate a lot of small tasks that only require 5 minutes of our time.
By doing them immediately, you’re not wasting any more time thinking about them and planning when you’ll do them.
In the beginning, this tip can be hard to implement regularly.
But once it becomes a habit, your to-do list won’t be cluttered anymore by useless tasks that you can complete in no time.
They’re out of your head and it helps you focus on more important tasks instead, and stop procrastinating on these.
9 – Celebrate each major task that you accomplish
When you want to do an important task, I think that it is important to plan to reward yourself once it is complete.
For instance, if you need to clean your whole house but you’re dreading it, plan a reward that you’ll love at the end.
Allow yourself to eat your favorite dessert or watch your favorite TV show.
It can be very basic such as letting you take a nap or going on social media if that’s what you like to do.
Knowing that you’ll have a reward at the end of your task will make you look forward to the moment you’ll get the task complete.
So you’ll be more likely and more motivated to start the task and work on it. This is a great way to stop putting things off and to get tasks done faster!
Having a reward at the end of a task will make you work faster as well, which saves you time in the process.
It can be a very efficient time-management tip to implement in your daily life.
For smaller tasks you need to accomplish, you might not always reward yourself at the end. It’s not realistic to implement that after every task you finish.
But a great thing to do is to envision the outcome and the feeling of accomplishment you’ll have once the task is complete.
It can be very motivating and it’ll make you want to achieve the task and overcome procrastination.
10 – Set yourself non-negotiable deadlines
To stop putting things off indefinitely, set yourself a deadline for when you want to have a given task done. And try to be realistic about how long it takes to finish it.
For instance, if you’ve been procrastinating on writing an essay, choose a date by which you absolutely must have finished it.
You need to impose deadlines on yourself and force yourself to do the task before that date.
You can set a rule that if the task isn’t complete by this given date, you won’t be able to do something you like. It’s like the opposite method of the previous tip.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, but convince yourself that there is no other choice.
For instance, if you want to see your friends this weekend, you need to finish writing this essay by Friday night.
Planning self-imposed punishments if you don’t achieve a given task is an efficient way to prevent you from procrastinating. You’re actually more likely to get to the task!
The great thing is, once you finish it, you can do whatever you want and you’ll enjoy yourself even more.
If you want to see your friends, you’ll enjoy even more spending that time with them.
If you want to go on a weekend trip, you’ll appreciate your weekend even more. You’ll know that you were productive and that you deserved it.
There you have it! Those were 10 ways to stop procrastinating and get stuff done!
I hope that you found them helpful and that you will implement some of them in your daily life.
Now, tell us in the comments below, what are your tips to stop procrastinating and get stuff done?
On a final note, I’d like to finish this article with a quote about procrastination.
Roy T. Bennett once said: “Your life is happening right now: Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Be brave and take risks. Your life is happening right now.”