How to stop procrastinating? You’ve tried every single technique found on Google and still nothing. But there IS a way and the following procrastination tips will show you just that.
I bet if you opened this article you don’t know what else to do. Will you ever find the secret, or will you keep putting things off forever?
I don’t know a single person who has overcome this problem completely. And still, I’m confident you already know what to do and how to stop procrastination.
But ironically, you procrastinate on that as well.
Today you’ll learn how to stop this vicious cycle.
Note: Don’t discard the techniques you’ve already heard about because you “already know them.” If you can’t use them consistently, you didn’t really learn it.
If you’re in a rut, you’ll find this invaluable.
It’s time to stop thinking of work and get it done. These methods will prove to you that it’s easier than you thought.
You feel intimidated by work because of a lack of clarity, high complexity, or something you have never done before. You also tend to overthink everything.
But there’s a way to keep track of your tasks and stay organized.
Picture the best way to complete your task with detail by creating a checklist.
Start working according to the list for testing. If you find you missed some points after you finish, add them too.
Now, you can get work done without thinking or worrying about forgotten details.
2. The 2-Minute Rule
You encounter too much friction to start working. Just thinking of it incites boredom/stress/dread.
Example: If you procrastinate for 2 minutes, it extends to hours.
Here’s another procrastination tip for you.
Also known as the “Do Something Principle”, you want to take enough 2-minute tasks to create momentum, whatever they are. After a dozen of them, work feels much lighter.
Start with anything (e.g., brushing your teeth). But end with the tasks that relate the most to your intended work (e.g., if you’re writing, start by adding 50 words to your paper in two minutes).
Avoid taking more than one hour per session, though, because then you could consider it procrastination.
3. The Non-Negotiable Hour
It becomes harder to re-prioritize tasks as your day goes on.
How can you solve this?
Force yourself to work on your project for the first hour of the day, which is a piece of cake after a restful night of sleep.
This hour is never negotiable.
The more “loyal” you are to this rule, the easier it feels to do it. You won’t get much done in one hour, but it will become a catalyst for more productivity throughout the day. Why? You set the right priorities.
Fun fact: this is the whole idea behind the book Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy.
4. The Celebration/Resting Day
Your work isn’t very stimulating, and the small pleasures of your comfort zone are distracting you.
Here’s one more tip:
Plan a day where you allow yourself to do anything you enjoy doing, productive or not.
Think of yourself now: you might be procrastinating with little distractions. Compared to that big celebration, they feel like a waste of time, and therefore less attractive.
Wait. Then what is stopping us from taking the celebration treat right now?
It’s much easier to resist big distractions because they are extravagant and exaggerated. We’re more likely to accept innocent, two-minute distractions, which later turn into hours anyway.
Taking days off work has become the most overlooked productivity technique.
5. Habit Bunching
You can’t find a way to build good habits without taking months. You want it NOW.
Do you like to drink coffee? Listen to music? Walk outdoors?
Using this strategy you can combine enjoyable, passive tasks with work. This way, working on things you don’t like so much will be more bearable.
Although their effect decreases over time, it will help you build the habit of working. Later, try removing those support habits. You will be able to stay productive without them.
6. Personalized Timeframes (aka Mini-Days)
You’re reactive to deadlines. You convince yourself you’re skilled, and you have enough time in the day to do it later.
If your sense of urgency depends on the deadline distance, a small (yet realistic) one will make you achieve as much as possible.
If you feel like the day is too dull, break it down into mini-days: one for working, another for learning skills, and relaxation.
The difference with time-blocking is that you will aim to achieve the whole day’s work in each mini day, achieving 3-4x more results.
Sounds impossible? It works better than you think. At least, it will force you to get creative and think of how to do it.
Like the Non-Negotiable Hour, this technique depends on your level of consistency. The more you do it, the easier it is to believe your rules.
7. The Hourly Challenge
You don’t mind wasting time between hours as long as the overall day is a success.
Make a shift from daily to hourly reviews.
Run a script where you plan to give your best work every single hour. Define how much work you need to do in one hour to consider it a personal record.
Ask yourself: “Am I ready to do my best work session at this hour?” If so, start!
If not, take the next hour to rest so that you’re ready for the next one. Eat, take cold showers, do mini-tasks to gain momentum, take a nap, walk.
If you’re still not prepared by the second hour, you did the preparation wrong. Rethink your strategy.
Looking to go beyond your limits can be motivating but also creates a perfectionist tendency. Here’s how to get more done:
- Before thinking of personal records, have a minimum work requirement for your hour (about 40% below your capacity). If you’re ready to achieve that, start. Give yourself 5-10 minimum sessions for conditioning
- If you optimized your marks to the point where improvements are tiny, increase your “work-tier” to two hours. When you reach the exhaustion point again, move it to three (go as low or as high as you want)
If you ever optimize eight work hours (wow!), then it may be time to work smarter instead and do something different.
This great procrastination tip comes from “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown.
Your estimations are too optimistic and wrong over 90% of the time.
How can you fix this?
Allow yourself 30-50% as a margin of error for all your expectations. If something goes wrong, you lose nothing. If not, you got extra time to get the job done earlier and have free time later (stress-free!).
- One more week to complete the two-week project
- Instead of starting the week before, give yourself ten days
- Spend that extra time spotting problems and preventing mistakes
9. OKR Goal-Setting System
When setting goals, you use results as metrics — not actions. Because this binary thinking doesn’t give you any control of the outcome, you find expectation gaps and lose motivation.
OKR stands for Objective Keyword Result. Here’s how it works:
- Set a binary goal (you either achieved it or you didn’t), either monthly or quarterly
- Give yourself three actionable metrics that rely on numbers, percentages, or binary outputs (e.g., Make 500 sales calls in three months, Follow up on 100% of the clients who respond, Don’t skip a single workday [YES/NO])
I recommend combining the OKR method with the 10X Rule.
You have a sales pitch that closes one of every ten people who respond. But you may need to message 10X more to get responses.
If you want 100 clients this quarter, that’s 1000 responses coming from 10K messages or less.
It may take less than that, but at least you set your expectations right. Maybe you don’t get the 100 clients until you’re writing the message Nº9500 (or you get them before the first thousand).
You’re no longer thinking about results but actions.
Did I mention Google invented the OKR Method? Now you can set goals as the Internet giants do.
10. Done Is Better Than Perfect
Are you so perfectionist that you don’t even start?
Create a system that prevents perfectionism and rewards action:
- Set goals based on quantity, and leave quality when you refine later. Allow yourself to create “garbage”
- Limit the tools you have to avoid distractions (and get resourceful). Set deadlines so that you don’t take forever
- Limit your ability to undo work (don’t edit as you produce). Disable the Ctrl+Z shortcut or work on paper
- Start working in non-ideal places, like your notebook, a note-taking app, even a napkin (anything but the format you’ll use to publish your final work). It will be less intimidating to start
11. Optimize Your Environment
Your workspace doesn’t let you focus. You get low-quality work done because you can’t get into the zone.
- Set a neutral environment. Whenever you finish using a room, let it ready to use for the next time (not only your workspace). Your virtual desktops should already have opened all the apps and pages you’ll need (there are tab saving extensions for that)
- Set the local environment. Within a one-meter radius, you should have NOTHING except your work tools. Your distractions should be in another room, out of sight, and hard to reach (probably your phone)
12. Intentional Procrastination
You never feel like it’s the right moment to work.
But there’s a procrastination technique you can use to help you with that feeling.
Organize work based on your energy level. Start with the hardest task, reserving the most entertaining work for the hardest moments of the day.
When you have many important projects, where should you start? The answer will vary depending on their urgency and relevance.
You can classify most work as logical/creative thinking, talking to others, or making decisions. If you’ve wondered about the right time to start each task, the answer is in your energy levels.
Now, you may think that all tasks need high energy (true except for creative tasks).
In other words:
You don’t need to feel energized/motivated all the time to be productive.
- Low energy = creative work
- High energy = everything else
This creates a predictable routine because our energy levels follow the same patterns every day. Some enjoy working at night while others have more focus in the morning.
You can find your chronotype with three questions:
- When would you like to wake up if you took a day off tomorrow?
- At what time would you go to sleep in the same situation?
- When do you feel the most focused/ when do you want to work?
Based on your answers, you may fit in the pattern of the dolphin, lion, bear, or wolf.
Do the right work at the right time, and you’ll be performing at 100% efficiency.
13. Weekly Events
Even though you have clear goals, it’s hard to motivate as weeks go on. You start to see every day as if it were the same as yesterday.
To avoid this, have events on your calendar to make the week more exciting.
I don’t always review my progress at the end of the week. But I do have deadlines.
It doesn’t need to be related to work. Any event works as long as it’s close enough (about 7-14 days).
That includes vacations, birthdays, the end/beginning of the month, meetings, anything you can schedule. It works better when it’s an event you’re looking forward to.
Have you ever felt like waiting for that date is more exciting than the event itself? That’s why we can use them as motivation.
I found an old friend of mine online last week, and haven’t talked in years. We agreed to meet next to talk about life and stuff.
In secret, I now have a deadline. I want to get done as much work as possible before that meeting happens.
Does the friend have anything to do with my work? Nothing at all.
But I want to make sure I get as much work done as possible. So when we meet, I could be present at the experience.
If you don’t have any events, create one. Most entrepreneurs take one day off per week: make it memorable.
How to Stop Procrastinating? (Avoid The Worst Mistake)
Imagine you’re procrastinating for the whole day (it should be easy).
You know you’re living below your potential. When the day ends, you feel deception because you didn’t get enough value from the day.
So you stay up late, try to work but get no results.
If you wake up anxious and tired, it’s harder to stop procrastinating, so you waste your day again. That’s the procrastination cycle.
You can see similar behaviors in other examples:
- Traders who don’t accept they’re losing end up losing more because they’re too attached to the trade
- If you buy an expensive television, you’re going to be distracted. You paid so much that if you don’t watch it, it feels like you’re not getting the value
If you find yourself here and don’t know how to stop procrastinating, it’s better to accept a losing day and immediately prepare for the next one.