What do you do to stop procrastinating?

This handy little resource was developed from contributions by a host of people across Linkedin, who happily contributed when I asked them the question “What do you do to stop procrastinating ?”  The question was prompted by our April 2014  magazine, when we published what proved to be a popular article by Paul Newton of Free Management e-Books all about procrastination in which Paul gives some tips about not giving into this all too common habit.

Stop Procrastinating!

We shared widely around Linkedin and a number of great members shared their tips and hints on stopping procrastination.  We hope that by sharing this free little resource you find some inspiration and are able to,  for once and for all:

As a lifelong procrastinator, I sometimes find it difficult to focus until the last minute. Leaving just enough time to get it done works – until it doesn’t. It doesn’t work when other things bubble up and usurp that small window of time you have allotted.  The solution? I have been able to change my definition of “the last minute” to allow for the likely (inevitable?) disruptions. I find I’m able to attain the focus I need while avoiding the stress that comes from slipping into crisis mode.   By Len Cavallaro

I tend to have two or three main areas I’m working on at a time, so tend to feel as long as I’m doing something in one of these areas, I’m not really procrastinating. As long as things balance out by the end of the week, I feel like I did ok overall. I guess put another way, I use what I have to do in one area to procrastinate when I don’t feel like doing something in another! By Meg Bertini

We quite often fall into this pit of “I have so many things going on right now” type of thought and with that end up procrastinating on many things. If that isn’t it then it’s procrastination based on miss-focus. What happens? We focus on the event and not on the result. Many things work well for procrastination, prayer, self-talk, focus, etc. but basically it all comes down to thought. Take note of what your thoughts are on what you’re procrastinating about. If it’s mostly negative then focus on the result and realize there is less stress with a result. It’s having that mental awareness that eludes us, it’s when we don’t think of putting ourselves in “the moment”.

Prayer and self-talk help me to come to the realization that while the couch looks great on a weekend afternoon or I cannot afford to miss out on a perfect day to play golf, what will make life better and more enjoyable on Easter weekend for my out-of-town and in-town visiting family is that I can bust out the tunes, grab a bucket and rags and clean the deck and gazebo. Fun? No, not so much but that’s not where my focus is. Yes, it would be easy to let the sprucing up go till next Saturday but then if the quality of life means anything and living on the high road matters then I won’t be procrastinating today.

Think of procrastination as a cause of stress. It’s always there. It’s something we have to do and will wait till we do it. Procrastination is patient and waits for everyone and it’s a perfect way of keeping our potential history in the future. Without history, there is no future. Life is a gift so if you like to receive, stop procrastinating, put your task to history so you can up wrap your next gift. And remember, if you live thinking you’re going to slide into home at death and yell out “WOW, WHAT A RIDE” then obviously you have no room for procrastination. My advice, take the High Road and don’t look back!  By David Matts

I like to think of it as prioritization I put more priority on some things than others. 🙂  By Carol S. Dougherty

Great idea. Should be a good list. COMMITMENT to 1st two key for me. Review list before starting any other work, and break down the BIG projects. By Robert Huggan ✓

I use “Stay Focused” APP on Google Chrome and my Smartphone. It blocks distracting websites and apps or can even cut off all access to anything that is not approved for a specified amount of time.  By Jonathan H. Sutton

I block my own access to Linked In to stop myself procrastinating… bother, failed again! By Paul Kaerger

I work best when I have a specific goal to achieve. By Paul Kaerger

Most people think I am the most productive person they know. I have projects that are winding their ways through the to-do list. I’ve noticed that some things get done very fast and some don’t. I have stopped negatively judging procrastination. Instead, I look to see why I want to do some things and why others languish. The procrastination is a valuable piece of information.  Is it that I really just don’t want to do this? Is this really a project that I ought to be doing? Should I delegate it to someone who will be excited about it?  What else is filling my time? Are those other tasks more aligned with my values? Or am I being reactive instead of responsive?

How can I arrange my time to do what is most valuable and important to me?  Do I need more information before I can move this forward?  I’ve arranged my life to do the things I love and to minimize the things I don’t. I say “No” often, so my plate doesn’t fill with activities that are not important.  By J. Kim Wright

I take the “lesser of evils” route, which sounds negative but works for me. In other words, I get around to the unpleasant tasks on my list when an even more undesirable task comes along. Also, I’m not beyond rewarding myself when I accomplish a tough “to-do” item; likewise, depriving myself of pleasure when I procrastinate. By Monica Bignelli

Kudos for doing this. I’m totally not a procrastinator (such a j on MBTI that the very act of crossing out the to-do items is rewarding) but for others, here’s a tip, its about giving oneself little rewards (I strongly suggest not making them food-related LOL) but when I get this done, I GET to do something I want to do for x amount of minutes e.g., make a call to a colleague; brainstorm on a fun project with a person I like to chat with; read a short article on a LinkedIn group for my own development.

You can remind folks that taking breaks actually makes people more productive (the managing energy body of literature) so we can get in the habit of taking breaks with rewards we plan for ourselves and we get the benefit of nurturing our bodies and minds at the same time.  By Amy Bladen Shatto, PhD.

Well…you choose. At any point in time, there be three choices you can make, Act sensibly, Act foolishly or just laze around. In any case, you can’t do anything about it unless you choose to avoid it…or then again…you could just choose to face the consequences of procrastination. At least you’ll not be going off half-cocked.  By Edwin Bozie

I often suggest making your “To Do List” before you leave the office and place it on your desk so you see it as you arrive. Put the item you are most likely to put off, first. Then do it. You will feel really accomplished and inspired to complete your list. At home, make your list the night before. You will sleep better!  By Dr Mimi Hull

I suspect that this thread could last a very long time. Meetings, always a good opportunity for procrastination, should have a clear agenda (Issued well in advance) and a clearly defined objective/purpose. By Robert Purse

Daily FOCUS: Make a list before going to bed at night and prioritize into three categories:   – Hot: Must get done immediately (no carry over to the next day). Things your team must get done to accomplish the mission. Unstoppable action  – Luke Warm: This that must get done in 2-3 days. Your routine tasks (ie time cards, leaves, family event at school or home) – Cold: Things that can wait until Fridays or the following week     Goal is to: FOCUS – On-one – Course of Action – Until you are – Successful.      By EmpowermentDoc Cita

Allocate yourself a reward for each completed task. The harder, or more unpleasant, the task the greater the reward.  By John Hodkinson MBA FEPS FCMI MoIEE

For me, it works best to have an accountability partner. Someone that’s asking the question: when do you think it will be ready? That really gets me going.  By Karin Karis

I set the alarm on the cooker for 90 minutes. I’ll work intensely until the alarm goes off, then I have to go downstairs to turn it off (and have a cup of tea, whatever). I’ll either have worked up enough steam to finish the project, or I’ll have a break and switch to a more enjoyable task for 90 minutes.  By Jakki Bendell MBA, CIPD

How about relabeling it “thinking/planning time”?   By Katie Thorpe

Quite often when I lay something aside, I see it much differently when I return to it. Often I realize it was never intended to be completed in the first place; it was a passing fancy, an ego exercise, retaliation, or a pander. So, indeed, the act of procrastination often provides the space to rise to a higher self, re-prioritize, and get on with things that are important and meaningful. By Bernie Nagle

My favourite technique for small stuff is David Allen’s two-minute rule: if it’s a task that can be done now and will take less than two minutes just do it. This works well in the mornings, less well in the afternoons. For the big stuff, I try to get still and ask what the universe wants and see what comes up. This helps me regain the plot, even intermittently.  By Nigel Linacre

Whenever you’re faced with a project that has a “due by date” be sure to frequently check-in with yourself by asking: “What’s the best use of my time right now?”… if you are not working on or spending time doing something more important than what you’re procrastinating on — shift gears, and get back on track. Simply distinguishing between what’s important, urgent or necessary right NOW, goes a long way in keeping you from being derailed by procrastination.  By Anna Marie Carter, M.A.

I really like the comments made so far. I would like to also add that you must first know where you want to go. If you don’t know where you want to go or what you want to achieve, you can still be very busy. You may eliminate your procrastination but you may be working on things that will not move you toward your goals, and as a result, you could end up being very busy wasting time.  By Jeff Goettl

I always keep my list of goals in front of me & refer to it throughout the day. Keeps me moving in the right direction, not forgetting what’s important.   By Paul LaRue

I try really hard to make the first task of each day the one I least want to do – then it’s out of the way and makes room for other (hopefully more enjoyable) tasks. It doesn’t always work though! I have to say, I find opening my email the worst procrastination of all – as soon as I look at my inbox, it steals an hour or two from what I planned to do.   By Mark Chapman

If you have any other ideas, pop them on a comment below, we’d love to add to the list!


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