Procrastination is the bane of our existence: we all strive to get things done but wind up perpetually putting them off until “later”, a mystic time that never arrives. Here are five simple tricks to stop constantly putting things off.
5 Tricks to Stop Procrastinating
1. Figure Out Your Priorities.
Do you have this big project due in three days? Are you putting off some paperwork that’s been on your mind for months? Make a list of your tasks and obligations. Just do a quick info-dump onto paper of everything that you know you have to get done. Don’t worry about the number of items or the order in which you are writing it. Now give each task 2 ratings (on a scale of 1-10), first is how important the task is, and the other is how urgent. Add these numbers up and then sort it out from highest sum to lowest sum. Start with the task with the highest sum first.
“It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?”
– Henry David Thoreau
2. Outsource Some Tasks
If you’re really swamped, chances are you’re just not going to get everything done by yourself, so you have to reclaim your time, however possible. Whether it’s by ordering food online so you can get your assignment completed by lunchtime or by hiring a helper for the weekend so you can have all your household tasks finished while you tend to more urgent matters, outsourcing means you don’t have an excuse to put off that thing you didn’t want to do in the first place.
3. Consider The Consequences
One great way to stop procrastinating is to simply think of what will happen if you don’t do this thing you’ve been putting off. If you keep waffling on your housework, you could fail this class and will have to repeat the semester. If you prolong doing your taxes, you will be paying penalties so you will lose money as a result. What are the consequences of your procrastination? Acquaint yourself with them so you can motivate yourself to avoid putting it for later.
4. Do Just One Thing At A Time (Avoid Multitasking)
In his best-selling book Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, Brian Tracy explains that it is better to be laser focused on one task at a time and not starting a new one until you’re totally done with the last task. The human brain can only handle so much and by tackling one task at a time, you’ll stop procrastinating on all those things you need to get done already. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a half-finished pile of paperwork at your desk while you’re frantically trying to book a flight and look after a toddler. You’ll prevent yourself from not finishing things you started and will develop a more efficient workflow to boot.
5. Do The Most Difficult Task First.
Once you’ve sorted out the most urgent things to be done, get the most arduous one out of the way. When you finish the most difficult task, the other tasks on your list won’t seem as bad. That feeling of accomplishment and pride you’ll feel will give you the power to conquer the rest of your tasks. The flipside to doing the hardest thing first is that it will tend to be more challenging to get started in the morning. In that case, it is important first to develop the motivation to tackle your first task (our motivational videos can help), so that the rest of the day becomes easier to complete.
I highly recommend you give Eat That Frog! a read. This best-selling book will not just give you tips on how to stop procrastinating, but also give you effective ways to manage your time better.