Here are the top productivity tips to show you how to avoid procrastination and get more done.

Do you find yourself switching from task to task and before you know, an hour has gone by and you’re wondering where all the time went?

You haven’t done anything tangible, yet you feel like you’ve been busy all day.

You are not alone.

Procrastination is something that we all do at some point in our lives. It can seem pretty harmless at first, but if you’re not careful it can eat away at your time and get in the way of achieving your goals.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

In this post, we’ll discuss how to avoid procrastinating, stop wasting your time and get more done in less time.

how to avoid procrastination, stop wasting time and get more done. Black woman casually sitting at her desk

What Is Procrastination?

If you want to learn how to avoid procrastination, I think it’s important to have a good understanding of what procrastination is.

Let’s start by defining what procrastination is (and what it’s not).

Procrastination is a word that comes from the latin word ‘procrastinare’ which means ‘to put off until tomorrow’. In essence, procrastination is the habit of avoiding tasks.

Procrastination can take on many forms, so it’s important that we’re able to identify it if were going to be able to overcome and do anything about this habit.

Procrastination is NOT the same as laziness
It's really important to make this clear distinction because the two are often confused.

Laziness is when someone has a lack of motivation or interest in doing something, while procrastination is when someone knows they should do something, but actively avoids doing it.

It’s likely that you have experienced both at some point in your life, but it’s important to be able to differentiate between the two.

Why do We Procrastinate?

It’s also important that we understand why we procrastinate.

In my experience, the reasons why we procrastinate fall into 4 major categories:

  1. Fear of failure– the idea of doing something and failing at it is enough to keep some people from even trying.
  2. Overwhelm– sometimes, you just have way too many things on your plate. They all seem important and you don’t know what to do, so you avoid doing anything at all.
  3. Perfectionism– the need to have everything perfect before you even start can be paralyzing. This can keep you from ever starting
  4. Learned helplessness aka the belief that nothing you do matters. If nothing you do matters, there’s no point trying.

Once you have identified which one (or more) is the cause of your procrastination, it’s much easier to move forward and find a solution to it.

It’s important to recognize that procrastinating is a habit. It’s something you do because on some level, you derive a benefit from it. For the vast majority, that benefit is stress relief.

Think about it- when you procrastinate, you’re avoiding something you believe will cause you stress. You procrastinate and avoid that task to get into a state you perceive will be less stressful.

To deal with the habit of procrastination, you cannot expect to succeed by removing the stressful stimulus. Your only hope in dealing with procrastination is change your pattern of behaviour.

The stress will always be there. The hard task will still need to be done. You just have to react differently, and keep reacting differently to train your brain to overcome procrastinating.

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12 Ways To Avoid Procrastination

Next time you’re faced with the temptation to put something off, here are a few ways to avoid procrastination.

  • Discover why you are procrastinating
  • Stop overcomplicating things
  • Do the hard thing first
  • Set deadlines
  • Just start (If you can start, research shows that 80% of people will keep going)
  • Make boring tasks more attractive
  • Reward yourself at the end
  • Limit distractions
  • Get an accountability partner
  • Get clear on your goals
  • Get mentorship
  • Give yourself grace

These practices can be applied to your career, business and also your personal life.

Understand Why You Are Procrastinating

As discussed earlier, people procrastinate for different reasons. As such, the first step to overcoming procrastination is to be honest and figure out why you are putting things off.

You won’t be able to come up with an effective solution for your procrastination habit unless you identify the root cause and how it affects you.

Once you discover why, it’s much easier to come up with a plan of action and you can start to develop healthy strategies to tackle procrastination.

Stop Overcomplicating Things

One of the reasons we procrastinate is because we overcomplicate things to the point that it all seems too much. We get overwhelmed by the amount of work that they have to do and freeze.

You know that feeling when you have a big project coming up. You know you need to work on it, but there are too many things to do and you don’t know where to start.

In these situations, it can help to break the big tasks into smaller more manageable tasks. Think of all the steps and all the tasks you need to do to get from point A to point B. Put them in order as well and assign a deadline for each task.

Psychologically, it’s much easier to focus on a single small piece of a large project than to focus on everything at once.

By focusing on only on the tasks in front of you, it becomes a lot more manageable. When the task is manageable, you’re a lot less likely to procrastinate on it.

When you start and finish the small task, you feel motivated to start and finish another part, and then another, and so on.

how to avoid procrastination and burnout

Eat That Frog

In the book ‘Eat That Frog’ by Brian Tracy, he states that ” It has been said for many years that if the first thing you do each morning is eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day with the satisfaction of knowing that it’s probably the worst thing you’ll have to do all day.”

Your frog is the biggest and most important task of the day. This is the task that most of us will procrastinate if given the opportunity.

The frog is also the task that has the biggest impact on our life. In essence, he’s saying that we should start each day by doing the biggest, hardest and most important task. When you make it a habit to eat that frog early in your day, you greatly reduce the chances procrastination.

Just Start

Sometimes all you need to do is just start.

“The hardest part of any important task is getting started on it in the first place. Once you actually begin work on a valuable task, you seem to be naturally motivated to continue.” – Brian Tracy

When you start something, it seems much more manageable and achievable than when it was just a thought in your head. Once you get going, chances are that you will be able to keep going on the task until it’s finished.

Set Deadlines

Many times it’s not just the task itself that can be daunting but simply how much time we have to do it. When the deadline is too far way, you lack motivation to take action toward the goal.

Setting milestones and deadlines that are closer is a great way to add a sense of urgency to the task, increase motivation and reduce procrastination.

When you create concrete deadlines, they help you focus on the task at hand and make sure that you stay on track.

Make Boring Tasks More Attractive

If you’re procrastinating because the task you have to do is boring, you can find ways to make it more interesting.

For instance, if you’re writing a report that requires a lot of research, allow yourself to take breaks and browse the internet for interesting facts related to your research topic. This will help keep you interested in the task at hand and motivated to finish it .

Reward yourself at the end

This is an oldie but a goodie. At the end of completing a task, give yourself a reward for your hard work. It can be as simple as giving yourself 10 minutes of free time or taking yourself out for coffee and dessert.

The goal here is to show yourself how it feels when you finish a task and how rewarding it is to accomplish something. This will reinforce the idea that finishing tasks is a good thing, and help you to stop procrastinating in the future.

Limit Distractions

One of the biggest causes of procrastination is getting distracted by other things. Our environments are full of distractions. From social media to notifications on your phone to checking emails every 30 minutes, theres no shortage of things to distract you.

The solution here is to limit your distractions as much as possible. Turn off notifications, put your phone on silent, and turn off the TV while you’re working.

You can also set a timer for how long you want to stay focused on one task and take frequent breaks to help keep you motivated throughout the day.

Get an accountability partner

Having someone to hold you accountable for your tasks can be a great way to stay on top of things and avoid procrastination. It helps to have someone who will encourage you and provide positive reinforcement when you’re feeling unmotivated or stuck.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be an in-person partner, but could also be an online community or group where you can share your progress and get feedback from other people.

By having someone you report to, you’ll be more likely to stay focused and finish tasks on time.

Get mentorship

Getting help from someone who has been there and done that can be incredibly valuable. Talk to people you admire and ask how they handle procrastination.

Learn from their struggles and successes, take what works for you and create your own system. This is a great way to stay focused, motivated, and avoid procrastinating on the tasks that are important to you.

Get clear on your goals

Clarity is the cure for overwhelm.

When you’re clear on our goals, you’re clear about whats most important.

When you know what’s important, it’s easy put first things first and to say no to the things that aren’t priority.

Getting clear on your goals is an important step to beating procrastination. Write down your vision and refer to it often. Take time to also reflect on how you want to feel. Adding emotions to this process will give you even more motivation and drive to move forward with your tasks.

Give yourself grace

Lastly, I believe that it’s crucial that you give yourself grace.

Procrastination is something that we all do at some point. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you find yourself slipping into old habits.

Focus on how far you’ve come and how much knowledge you have gained since then. The most important thing is to be kind to yourself, learn from your mistakes and keep going!

The keep going part is so important. You may fall, but get back up and keep working at it.

These tips can help you avoid procrastination and stop wasting time. It’s all about finding the right system that works for you and staying consistent. With a bit of practice, you’ll be well on your way to being more productive!

Good luck!

Books on how to Avoid Procrastination

Below are some recommendations for further readings on the topic of procrastination.

12 ways to avoid procrastination and stop wasting time and get more done.

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