9 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get Things Done

My blog post this week for Lifehack.org was called How to Avoid the Butterfly Effect, the Supersauras and Procrastination. I love writing about productivity if I didn’t I don’t think I’d achieve much in life. I consider myself an intelligent women (well my mother regularly tells me I am!) and I would also consider myself a productivity expert, but sometimes I can’t get over my stupidity. I’ve read all the books, I have created training courses, I coach people, I’ve spoken about it in public, Hell I’ve even written my own book but as I wrote the article I realized I’ve been procrastination on two big projects.

My Procrastination

1. 6 Weeks to Happier, More Organized You

Yes, the course I promised you at the beginning of the year, I have been delaying the launch. My reason for delaying is that I keep getting better ideas about how I want to present it. I want to make a bigger impact with the learning experience and I want to add video. Unfortunately my own video camera’s microphone quality is not good enough.

Now here is a classic example of stagnation. I haven’t yet made the decision will I buy a new one or will I borrow one to get this course completed?

2. My next book
I have started writing it but I haven’t yet made it a regular habit.. As I mentioned over at Lifehack two of the biggest reasons people procrastinate are

  • They Fear the size of the project (The Supersaurus effect)
  • They haven’t clearly defined what it is.

In my case I’m not guilty of either of these reasons. I know exactly what I want to achieve I have a plan for both, (In fact the course content is complete) and for my new book I have a structure and I have an outline of chapters. The issue is I haven’t created a schedule for populating those chapters and unless I do I don’t know when the book would ever get done.

How I usually get things done

I usually dedicate an evening a week to a project. This is also how I managed to do my diploma in organizational psychology from home. In this way no matter how busy I was there was always time reserved for my course work. The other advantage of having a plan is that the rest of the family get used to the routine, and when they know your plans in advance they are much more likely to support and respect it.

Back to the plan or lack of it!

Why don’t I have a plan for writing? Rather a long Pause – yes my only answer is stupidity! Another long pause while I enter recurring appointment in my calendar Tuesday “New book writing” Another pause while I schedule time for course and create a task to borrow Video Camera.

Now that that is sorted, here are 9 more ways in which you can avoid Procrastination and Get Things done

1. Be Clear about your Vision.

If you are clear about what you want to achieve it will help motivate you towards achieving your goals, and it will also enable you to assess and plan what needs to get done.

2. Break down larger tasks

If the assessment uncovers a large task don’t panic, break it down into smaller tasks or milestones which don’t seem so overwhelming. Little by little the small tasks will get done and you will start to feel a sense of achievement.

3. Schedule & Set Reminders

Schedule time for all the tasks that need to get done and set reminders for the important ones or the ones you usually avoid.

4. Get up early

Rising early has been life changing for me, it has allowed me to do the tasks that I never seemed to fit in at a different time in the day. Exercise, meditation, yoga, journaling.

5. Commit to a little every day

Even ten minutes a day can achieve great things. This was how I started to write my first book. A friend suggested to me “Ten minutes a day can write a book” So I started, once I gained momentum it difficult to stop.

6. Stay Clutter-Free

Try and keep your work space clutter free. If there are papers and stuff lying around, they are more likely to distract you away from the task you should be focusing on.

7. Single Focus

Sometimes we have too many ideas and too many projects on the go at once. If possible put some of them on hold and focus on completing the most important one first.

8. Exercise

Exercise relaxes and energizes. It will improve your stamina and your mental capacity. It also helps to shift depression if that is what is causing your procrastination. (It is Branson’s number one Productivity Tip)

9. Eliminate Distractions
Give yourself time each day where you disconnect from the internet and all the noise and information overload. Switch off your phone and give yourself time to think and plan and then Do.

I would love to hear if you have any other ways you avoid procrastination

Photo Credit: Adapted from Procrastination by Offense

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Comments (12)

seriously! this is totally what I needed today. I am right there with you! I have a couple of big things on the go and yet I am sitting in this limbo land and nothing is getting done….


I do, have a bad habit of doing too many things at one time, so I am definitely going to make more of an effort to use ” Single Focus” to get me through the next few weeks.

*stands up, firmly plants feet and starts walking forward*

Thanks Ciara

Brilliant Lori, I’m glad the article gave you the gentle kick you needed ! Good Luck with all your projects

This is so timely for me too! I am struggling with how to balance productivity with down time to allow creativity to flow. You’ve reinforced an answer that I already knew (it’s on my to-do list but I haven’t done it, hee hee): Make a Schedule!

I love the idea of devoting a specific time/day each week to a big project – and getting family used to it that way. It could also create the habit in my own self and give me motivation to turn down other invitations and opportunities that come up on that scheduled ‘date with my project.’

I have a hard time with the focus and distractions. One thing I’ve found to help with this is to have a notepad handy to jot down any new ideas or urgent things that come to mind while I’m trying to work on a project. Then I can put my attention back to what’s at hand without worrying that I will forget the other thing.

Good tips. Simple but true.

Thanks Ciara for this post. A great reminder for me. I need to get better at most of them! I have changed from not being a morning person at all to regularly getting up at least an hour earlier. It has certainly made a difference.

That’s great to hear Claire, I was never a morning person either it doesn’t come naturally to me. But I know the benefits are so great I try and persist.

I love your spin on this! I’m a lot like you where I know exactly what I want to create, outline and all, but I’ve been procrastinating on it. I tend to want to get my smaller tasks out of the way before focusing on the big ones. Well, you know where that leaves the big ones.

I know a schedule is exactly what I need but I’ve been procrastinating on making one. 🙂

I’ve been an early riser most of my life, using the early morning hours for exercise (yoga), meditation and journaling. I truly treasure that quiet “me” time in the mornings. That went out the window (temporarily) when I had kids. At their young ages it seems impossible to get up early without one or more of them intuitively knowing that I’m up and finding me 15 minutes after I wake up. So I try to work everything in during the day which doesn’t lend itself well to consistency but I’m doing my best and I’m OK with that.

Thanks for some great ideas and different twist on the topic!

These are all great tips Ciara.
I know that #3, scheduling and setting reminders, and #5, committing to a little every day, are tips that I should definitely work on. Otherwise the days and weeks seem to pass and I feel I have very little to show for my efforts – aside from a host of Facebook posts and a bit of social media interaction!
#6, Stay clutter free, is one that’s made a massive difference to me just this week. I cleared three surfaces that had been driving me crazy, and have found myself to be incredibly more productive.
All I need now is a great tip on how to be working at the computer and not allow myself to be distracted every 2 minutes by whatever takes my attention from what I’m doing. If you have any suggestions, they’d be most appreciated!!!

Hi Bridgid,

The first thing is to get really clear about what you want to achieve when you start to work.

1.Use your calendar to schedule your time. When you have time allocated to a certain project you are much more likely to stay focused on it. Remind yourself how good it will feel to complete it.
2.If you get distracted try and come back to the task as quickly as possible.
3.Allocate separate time for social networking and digital marketing.
4. Close the internet if you are trying to write or do work that doesn’t need it.
5. Stay Clutter – Free get into the regular habit of clearing the space where you work then nothing can physically distract you and you will feel more relaxed knowing everything is under control.
I hope this helps, My book is available next month full of tips and techniques to stay focused 🙂

Hi Paige, I challenge you to dip your toe in the water and schedule a little time this week to one of those big projects you have been procrastinating on. Once you get started you will probably find it difficult to stop! Good Luck

Your nine steps look so simplistic, but sure needs a lot of discipline to get done.
Not doing these things is what has been holding me down. Will have to get going with its implementation.

Hi Aanuage, you are right there is too much there to implement at once and it does require discipline but if you are going to make a start I would recommend you start with clearing the clutter and scheduling in your calendar to get one important thing done. I always ask myself the question at the start of the day, what can I do today that will have the biggest impact? What one thing will make me feel satisfied at the end of the day?
Good Luck

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