Top 10 Anti-procrastination tips to kick your lazy bucket
Procrastination arises from the conflict between our desire to seek instant gratification vs. long term value.
Here are Top-10 anti-procrastinating tips to get you started on whatever you know you should be working on.
1. Create artificial Deadlines for projects or goals that don’t have one
You don’t need me to tell you that procrastination isn’t good for you. You may be aware that you’re procrastinating on projects that HAVE a deadline, but are you also aware of the things you’re unconsciously procrastinating on? Those that lack an implicit deadline?
Perhaps you’ve been putting off starting a business, implementing a fitness plan, starting an art project…
Without deadlines, we end up indefinitely procrastinating on these life goals. Need a real kicker to shock you into starting things? Map out your life calendar. At 33-years old, here’s mine:
When setting deadlines, be aware of Parkinson’s Law = “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. Set deadlines that are close enough to motivate you to get started, yet not too close such that it causes unnecessary stress.
2. Seek Accountability
Deadlines keep you personally accountable. Further strengthen it by putting it out into the world and sharing it with others. To take it a step further, find someone specific who is motivated to check-in and follow-up with you regularly on your progress.
Here are relevant resources related to accountability:
- Setting up an Accountability Buddy system.
- How to find a good mentor/advisor.
- Mastermind Groups: The Good, Bad, and Ugly
Here are entrepreneur specific tips:
- Taking on investment is one way to light this fire under your butt. Nothing like having an investor breathing down your neck!
- Start a personal newsletter to share updates, challenges, and asks with your network. Here’s an example of my own.
3. Big Rocks First
The things we put off, we’ll never get around to doing. If it’s truly important to you, build it into your schedule and tackle them first.
This exercise isn’t something that you only do at the beginning of the year. Practice it on a daily basis. Tackle the 3-biggest tasks of your day during the time when you have the most energy (which is also usually, but not always, close to the start of your day).
4. Just Start
The biggest challenge is often taking that simple first step. Once you’ve started, finishing becomes a lot easier.
Most people don’t start because they claim that they want to develop capability and confidence before taking the leap. Realize that capability and confidence only comes AFTER you have attempted something and developed competency in that area. You need to first commit to doing something, then follow-up that commitment with the courage to take action and wade through uncertainty.
More on the 4C framework by Dan Sullivan here:
The next 3 points will help you with overcoming the initial hurdle of getting started:
5. Commit 100% by Burning all Bridges
And if you missed it or didn’t watch the video — Start your transformation by shifting your personal identity to that of one that aligns with your goals.
6. Perfect is the enemy of progress
- Learn to recognize the Impostor Syndrome, embrace it, and function in spite of it. Here’s a more detailed article on Overcoming the Impostor Syndrome.
- How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
- Break down daunting goals or projects into smaller more easily accomplished initiatives.
- Create a step-by-step roadmap with those initiatives and assign deadlines to them.
- Start projects you dread with the pieces that you enjoy.
7. Understand if there is a fear of rejection that’s holding you back
8. Automate or Delegate the things you don’t want to be doing
If you’re procrastinating on a task because you dislike it, explore if it’s possible to automate/delegate it so that you no longer have to deal with it! Filter your to-do list through a Focus Funnel to help you identify what you should personally work on:
As Rory says in his talk, if it doesn’t need to be done now, it’s absolutely OK to procrastinate on purpose. Don’t feel guilty putting things off for a more opportune time in the future. That’s not procrastination, that’s patience, and it’s a virtue.
9. Eliminate/reduce triggers that feed your habit of procrastinating
You’re not a procrastinator, you have a habit of procrastinating. It’s not an identity. If it’s a habit, there are proven ways to change habitual behaviours.
- Be mindful and make yourself aware of the triggers that prompt impulsive behaviours e.g. That new message notification on your phone.
- Eliminate, reduce, or substitute those triggers to prompt alternative action/behaviours.
- Reinforce that loop by rewarding a new positive habit.
10. Build and ride momentum
Getting started is one thing, staying on track is another.
This tip is closely related to some of the ones we’ve already covered: Change your perspective of identifying projects as singular momentous goals and instead craft a roadmap with smaller recurrent milestones that help you visualize progress and keep you continuously motivated.
Misc. tips that didn’t quite make the Top-10
The 2-minute rule:
If something takes less than 2-minutes to accomplish, don’t put it off and JUST DO IT.
Don’t wait for flow to come, make it come to you:
You can prime yourself to more readily experience a state of flow.
It’s counter intuitive, but to do this, you need to create a schedule. A schedule helps by:
- Freeing up mental space so that you are focused on the task instead of being distracted by other things that you need to do.
- Priming you to experience flow at the same time, in the same environment, regularly.