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The Ultimate List of Tested and True Ways to Stop Procrastinating

Procrastination is a problem we’ve all faced at some point in our lives. Maybe you used to wait until the last minute to do your homework as a child. Or perhaps you tell yourself that you’ll do the dishes some other time, because right now it’s more important to rest after a long day’s work. Either way, I’m sure you’ve tried to stop at some point and realized how hard that is.

That’s because we don’t all procrastinate for the same reasons, and if you use a strategy that’s meant for a different reason, it may not work as well. So, if you’re unsure what style of procrastinator you are and you’d like to figure out which type of solution will work best for you, watch the video below. I warn you, it’s very old, so I look a little different. 

Hopefully you got a lot of value out of that little mini series about procrastination. Once you’re done, come back and watch my newest video on the subject, where I talk about the main reason people decide to put things off for later. I've embedded it below for your convenience. 

Now that you’re all caught up, read on to discover over two dozen tried and true techniques. I’m sure at least one of them can help you kick this nasty habit.

  1. Admit you have a problem

You can’t overcome procrastination, if you’re not aware it’s a problem. So it’s important to accept responsibility for the fact that you procrastinate, to admit that it’s getting in the way of the life you want to lead. Write a list of all the things you’re missing out on because of procrastination; all the problems it’s causing. Then think of how your life could be, if you didn’t procrastinate and write that down, too.

  1. Know your style

Ask yourself, “In what ways do I procrastinate? When do I do it and why?” Sit down with a pen and paper and describe your thought process as thoroughly as possible until you understand procrastination as a separate entity with its own goals and desires. The first video I embedded above can help, since your “Procrastination Style” is essentially a simplification of how, when and why you procrastinate anyway.

  1. Schedule difficult tasks when your energy is highest

Not all of us are at our most productive at the same time of day. Some of us are morning people, while others are night owls. And it’s not always consistent for everyone either. Maybe on Monday’s you do your best work around midmorning, whereas on Wednesdays you do better in the late afternoon. The best way to find out is to keep a detailed “Procrastination Journal” for at least two weeks, so you can see when you’re most likely to put things off. From there you can extrapolate and figure out which days and times are best for you to tackle your most taxing work.

  1. Start with the hardest task of the day

This is kind of similar to #3. Only you do it whether you’re a morning person or a night person. Always do the hardest thing first. If you get it out of the way early, you will feel tremendous relief and won’t be plagued with guilt for the rest of the day for not doing it earlier.

  1. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones

When your mind says you can’t do something, it brings up scary images of failure and pain. These are all imaginary and can frighten you out of trying your best. So refuse to listen to the negative thoughts. When you notice you’re thinking words like “can’t”, “failure”, “useless” and the like, use this technique to point your thoughts back to the bright side and cast away any fear that’s plaguing you.

  1. Focus your attention on solutions

Concentrating on all the potential problems that could arise may feel prudent, but it’s making things worse. You might tell yourself you’re making sure none of it will come to pass, because you’re being prepared, but your mind will always find more problems for you to tackle, if that’s what you’re looking for. Like I said in this video, it’s only a problem if you label it as such. The trick is to focus on the result you want to achieve, not on what you want to avoid. This video gives you more tips on how to develop a solution-focused mindset.

  1. Break things upinto smaller steps

This is called “chunking down” and it’s when you think of all the detailed stages involved in a larger project. That way you can focus on one part at a time and not feel overwhelmed. Feeling overwhelmed with the enormity of a project confuses us sometimes and can make us not want to tackle it at all. When you break things down into simpler components, you’ll find the motivation to do what you need to. This works really well with long-term goals. Completing short-term measurable tasks will eventually lead to your end result and feel way more manageable.

  1. Increase your energy

If you don’t have enough energy to tackle important tasks, of course you’re gonna want to put them off for a later time when you might feel more up for it. The best way to increase your energy level is to exercise regularly (click here for simple ways to trick yourself into working out more), but there are many ways to achieve the same result. Click here to discover which diet is perfect for you or click here to learn some sneaky ways to spend more time outdoors. Both are scientifically proven to give you more vitality.

  1. Find your purpose and have long-term goals 

When you know why you’re doing something, it helps motivate you from the inside. If your projects are in line with your ultimate purpose, which in turn is aligned with your core values, you will not have to push yourself to do any of them. It will feel effortless and procrastination will cease to be an issue. If you don’t know what you’re life purpose is, click here to identify it using a simple method. Long-term goals are also just as important as your purpose. They too need to be in line with your values in order to inspire you to accomplish them. So make sure you have a plan for the future that makes sense for who you are. If you’d like to discover what your values are, click here to take the test.

  1. Reward yourself for accomplishing tasks

Have you ever trained a dog to do something, like sit or stay? A common method of training animals (and what are humans, if not sophisticated animals?) is to reward them with a treat when they do what we want them to. Before long the task becomes imprinted as a habit and the treats are no longer necessary. This works remarkably well for humans of all ages.

Set yourself a specific reward and make sure you will not receive it until after you’ve done what you need to do. The moment you complete your task, it’s very important that you congratulate and reward yourself as soon as possible, so that your brain will associate good feelings with completing the task. A lot of us get so caught up ticking items off our to-do lists that we forget to congratulate ourselves when we do something right.

  1. Streamline unimportant decisions

There’s a thing called decision fatigue. It’s when you reach your decision quota for the day and from then on your brain refuses to make any more – at least not well. The problem is, we have to make so many decisions in an average day. From the moment we wake up, we have to decide what to wear, what to eat, and what to do. And that’s before we even reach the office!

So the trick is to differentiate between the important and the trivial decisions in order to set priorities. For example, deciding what to eat for breakfast is a small decision and doesn’t ultimately matter, while considering whether to leave your job is a large decision that requires a lot of concentration and brain power. But if you make too many small decisions before tackling the critical ones, you won’t have enough cognitive juice to actually make an informed decision.

If you plan ahead for the smaller details of your day, then you can think more clearly when it comes to big decisions. For example, always wear the same outfit and eat the same breakfast on Mondays. That’s two less decisions to waste glucose on, which can be saved for later in the day when you’ll need it the most.

  1. Let go of perfectionism

It’s easy to tell you that things don’t have to be perfect. Sometimes we’re so scared we’ll make the wrong choice that we don’t make any choice at all. Sometimes we don’t even start a project because we tell ourselves “it’s not the right time”, or that we “just need to get this one thing done” before we can start working towards our goal. But the perfect time doesn’t exist, because perfectionists are very good at finding the slightest thing wrong with the picture, no matter how close to perfect it might be.

If you keep waiting for the perfect moment, you will never even get started, let alone achieve your goal. And the longer you wait, the harder it becomes to start, because of the law of inertia. However, once you’ve started walking in any direction – even if it’s the wrong direction – it’s easier to course-correct along the way. Quit over-planning and trying to deal with all the possible problems before they even arise. Just make a decision – any decision – and when the obstacles come up, you can deal with them then.

Learning from your mistakes doesn’t have to be as scary as you make it out to be. It’s okay to notice that something wasn’t working and to fix it as you go. It’s easier to make corrections once you’ve already started going in a particular direction than to spend countless hours and days brooding over whether this is the right direction to take. The reason we feel so bad when we procrastinate is because natural human behaviour is to make a decision and run with it. Own it. You can fix any likely mistakes later down the road.

  1. Make up for the back-log

Some of us have been procrastinating for so long that there is a long list of backed up tasks that should have been done ages ago and this list is holding us back from getting more recent things done. It’s time to make a list of all the things you know you’ve been putting off and tackle the oldest thing first. Keep working your way forwards from there until you’re all caught up. Of course, make sure to make two lists: one of urgent tasks and one of important ones, so you can tackle the former before tackling the latter.

  1. Designate a daily “Anti-Procrastination” hour

Pick a time of day to work on your to-do list; one hour for each day of the week – it doesn’t have to be the same time every day, as long as you have 60 minutes a day every day that are set aside only for working on tasks you need to get done. Focus on one item at a time and don’t even think about the next one until the first gets completed. You don’t have to get them all done within that hour. Just make sure the one you’re concentrating on is done properly, so you don’t have to go back to it later down the track. Give your full attention to whatever you’re doing. A great way to learn how to do this is to start practicing mindfulness. Click here and here for more specific information on this kind of awareness with or without meditation.

  1. Involve others

Does whatever you’re putting off involve someone else? Do you need their input or assistance before moving forward? Then talk to them. Be open and honest about where you’re at and what you need. You might discover that your fears were unfounded, or they may even decide to do it for you – if you’re lucky.

  1. What’s the worst and best that could happen?

Ask yourself, “What's the worst thing that could happen if I did this right now?” and answer truthfully. What is it you’re afraid to face? Do you fear the consequences associated with the action you've been avoiding? Are you scared you might do it improperly or that people will think you’re a fool? The worst-case scenario most likely would be a minor inconvenience or a temporary setback. 

But even if it’s a horrible situation, it’s only a possibility and may not happen at all. To lessen the chances of your fears coming true, set yourself up for success by safe-guarding against what you’re scared of. Then, try asking yourself to imagine the best-case scenario in as much detail as you possibly can. Imagine how you'll feel once you do whatever it is you've been postponing. Freedom from anxiety, from external pressure and self-doubt. Envision the confidence and energy you’ll get once you’re done.

  1. Optimize your environment

Every environment has a different impact on your productivity. Does your work space inspire you to work or does it stress you out? Is it streamlined and clean or is it messy and smelly? You know yourself better than anyone. You know if you’re the kind of person who thrives in organized chaos or if you’re the kind of person who can only focus if everything around them is organized and shiny.

Of course, people change and what inspires us today might not work on us tomorrow, so make sure to keep spicing things up every now and then. If your workspace isn’t making you feel motivated, perhaps a short walk will clear your head, or you can add a pot plant to the room – the smallest, simplest change could make the biggest difference.

  1. Set specific deadlines

There’s a difference between urgent and important. You might value something a whole lot, but if you don’t get it right this second, it’s not the end of the world. Of course, context plays into this. Say you’re overweight and it’s putting a massive strain on your heart. This makes losing weight both important and urgent.

But maybe you’re just a couple pounds heavier than you’d like. In that case, losing weight may still be important to you, but it’s not really an urgent matter. It can wait. When something is urgent, it means something or someone is pushing you to do it by a certain time and there will be negative consequences, if you don’t get it done.

Things that are important, but not urgent, are the things that get put off the most and they usually don’t get done until they become urgent enough. So sometimes it helps to create a sense of artificial urgency by setting a deadline for it and making sure the task is simple enough that it would be ridiculous to make excuses not to do it.

In our losing weight example, set a deadline to go for a 5-minute walk by the end of the week. You could even spice things up by punishing yourself, if you don’t meet the deadline. And make sure someone you respect knows about this deadline, so they can ask you whether you’ve done what you said you would.

  1. Create a detailed timeline

An even better option would be to create multiple deadlines for each step of the broken down goal. This means that instead of having just one deadline for the ultimate goal of losing weight, for example, you can set yourself the smaller goal of losing 1 pound by the end of the month and then 2 more pounds by the end of the next month, etc. with specific deadlines.

When you have just one deadline for a vaguer and general goal you feel as though you have more time than you have and you are tempted to constantly push it back until you get closer to the deadline. Of course, by then you have more things to do in a smaller amount of time, so you get overwhelmed and might still avoid it, this time for a completely different reason.

If you really wanna get detailed with this, you can set a list of daily tasks that are so small you can’t create a reason not to do them and if you tell yourself you only have until the end of the day to do them, your overall goal will have more chances of being reached.

  1. Make it harder on yourself

There are certain things that trigger us to procrastinate. We get used to reaching for this low-hanging fruit whenever it’s available, so a great way to stop yourself from procrastinating is to track your actions. When you catch yourself procrastinating, retrace your steps and try to figure out where it began. What made you feel the need to procrastinate and what did you do first? Maybe you’ve bookmarked Facebook in your browser and it’s way too easy to simply see it and click it whenever you’re anxious.

You may have inadvertently trained yourself to consider Facebook a form of stress release, which will have hard-wired the actions into your brain, so that you automatically click it when you feel overwhelmed. Or maybe you have set up notifications to go off every time you receive a comment on social media. This pinging noise will also have become associated with feelings of pleasure. So make it harder for yourself to access these things that suck you in. Take social media sites off your bookmarks and turn off automatic notifications. Make it less accessible somehow and eliminate temptation.

  1. Hang out with people who inspire you to take action

We are the sum of the five people we hang around the most. If those people are downers who also procrastinate a lot, it won’t help you kick the habit. But some people are just naturally motivating. Imagine spending just 10 minutes with Tony Robbins! Boy, would that encourage you to stand up to the procrastination monster!

But you don’t have to be besties with the most exciting people on the planet to get this effect. Every person we’re with influences our behaviour, whether we realize it or not. Identify people who have a positive influence on you – people who are go-getters and don’t put their own goals off for any reason – and make an effort to spend more time with them. It won’t be long before you realize they’ve rubbed off on you.

If you don’t have anyone like this in your life, then try to follow inspiring people on social media, read their books, listen to their podcasts, watch their videos. There are countless ways these days to feel closer to other humans.

  1. Get an accountability buddy – or multiple

Having someone to hold you accountable makes the whole process much easier and sometimes way more fun. Ideally, your accountability buddy should have their own set of goals that you can hold them accountable for in return. They don’t have to have the same goals as you, but if they do, even better, coz then you can share what you learn along the way and have someone who really understands what you’re going through.

If you don’t have someone like this, tell some of your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family members about your project. Now whenever they see you, they’re bound to ask about the status of those projects. Another way to do this could be to announce your projects on your blog, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube, then your readers, followers, friends and subscribers might ask you about them on a regular basis. Making your intentions public like this adds pressure, and if you’re so inclined, the fear of appearing flimsy might keep you motivated to go through with your plans.

  1. Seek out a mentor

For most goals that we can conceive of, there is already someone out there who has achieved it. And today it’s easier than ever to connect with these people. You can reach out at any moment and email them, send them a Tweet, or even make an appointment with them, or invite them to be a guest on your podcast/video/blog, etc. These people have so much knowledge to share. They can speed up your process by helping you learn from their mistakes. But most importantly, they are living proof that your goals are very achievable, as long as you take action.

  1. Re-clarify your goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, this might mean you’ve grown out of your goals. Perhaps what you wanted a year ago is no longer in line with your values. If that occurs, it’s time to change your goals to match what you currently want. In order to do that, you first need to become intimately aware of who you are and what you want. See #8 for more information and links that can help. Most of the time you may need to take some time off work to spend some time alone and really contemplate who you’ve become. What exactly do you want to accomplish and why? If your current goals don’t align with that vision, it’s time to create new ones.

  1. Make your every goal SMART

When you create new goals or re-write your old ones, it’s important to make sure they are SMART, that’s to say: that they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Tangible. Click here to learn more about what this all means and exactly what steps to take to make sure your existing goals are SMART ones.

  1. Make a “common sense” to-do list

It’s common sense that if an item is easy enough, important enough or urgent enough, you will do it whether it’s on your to-do list or not. So why stress yourself out writing every last task down and creating a massive list that looks like it will take decades to complete? Make a new list and include only the items that you’re avoiding. When the only things on your list are things you’ve been procrastinating on, you can’t cheat by crossing off easier or more appealing tasks first.

  1. Use the “2-Minute Rule”

Most of the tasks that you procrastinate on aren’t actually difficult to do — you have the skills to accomplish them — you just avoid starting them for one reason or another. The 2–Minute Rule is very simple: commit to only doing something for two minutes. It may be a task that normally takes an hour, but you’re only going to do it for two minutes. Tell yourself that once those two minutes are up, you’re free to stop and walk away.

Sometimes we’re surprised to see that what we thought was going to take half an hour actually took less than two minutes. In those cases, congrats. You’re done. But in other cases, something even more amazing happens: once the two minutes are up, we don’t see the point in stopping. We’re already there and we’ve already started, so we feel compelled to see it through.

Maybe it helps us realize that it wasn’t as scary or difficult as we thought it would be – perhaps we even find it fun! Either way, all you have to commit to is those first two minutes, so even if you do 5 or 10, you’re free to stop whenever you want, because you’ve accomplished what you set out to do – and you’ve already done more than you needed to. It really helps improve your confidence, as well as motivating you to try it again soon, because you’ve demystified it and it’s no longer a scary monstrous thing.


Try out these tips and, if you’re still finding procrastination hard to stop, ask for help in the comments below, send me a message, or book a FREE breakthrough session to see how I can help you myself.

You can find more Happiness Strategy videos on my YouTube channel, so subscribe to make sure you never miss a strategy! I come out with a new one every Sunday.

Until next time, remember: Happiness doesn’t require energy. It requires Strategy.

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