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10 Techniques to Successfully Overcome Procrastination

Techniques to Successfully Overcome Procrastination

I am an information addict. My nemesis: blogs full of productivity systems that claim to make you do more today than ever before. Of course, I fall right into the trap and read these articles for hours at a time (and feel quite studious because I’m “learning”), but then I look at the clock and realize that there is no way that today will be my most productive. It’s a vicious cycle for an information addict.

I recently realized that what has helped me to be most productive has never really changed. In particular, there are 10 key methods that work for me and have been working all along. I just like the fancy productivity system names and thought something better may exist in the internet abyss.

1. Link Filtering
Don’t click on the links! Once you start clicking and digging deeper into a topic, you lose focus and energy. If you feel a link is incredibly valuable, bookmark it. I find that I rarely go back to most of the links that I bookmark, which means lots of time saved!

2. E-Mail Naps
Take care of your e-mail program — turn off its constant buzzing and even the number that appears on your desktop of unread messages. Let your email rest. When I am working, I quit my e-mail program and write e-mails that I would like to send in plain text documents saved with the subject of the e-mail. Then, I send the e-mails all at once when I complete a chunk of my work.

3. Focus
Focus on one task at a time. If the task you are working on is part of a larger project, define a specific goal for that period of time (e.g., read 10 pages or brainstorm ideas for book title). I write the goal on a post-it note and leave it next to me while I’m working.

4. Clear your Desktop
Clearing your desktop allows you to focus on one project without distraction from piles of papers or other nicknacks.

5. Take Mini-Breaks
When you begin to lose focus, take a 5-15 minute break away from your work area. Do something totally unrelated to work (e.g., take a quick walk, create a cute label, eat some fruit, listen to music, stretch).

6. Do what you DON’T want to do FIRST
It’s yucky — I know. But afterwards the feeling of success is enough to energize you through the rest of your day.

7. Be Enthusiastic
When you were in school, did you learn the most from teachers who were enthusiastic about the subject matter or the teachers who fell asleep while talking about the same math concept for the 4th time that day? Even if you are counting pennies, bring positive energy to the task. Use positive self-talk and convince yourself that what you are doing is fun. If you’re writing, use a favorite pen. I use a bright colored sharpie when I’m writing and it does the trick! The key is to cognitively trick yourself into thinking what you’re doing is just wonderful. (Now you can see why I want to go into psychology!)

8. Reward Yourself
Sounds wonderful, but most of us probably don’t do it on a consistent basis. It’s a great incentive to push forward with a project. Create a reward system and you’ll be a bit more motivated to put one foot in front of the other.

9. Relabel “Procrastination
We all find ourselves procrastinating and it makes most people pretty upset with themselves. It’s important to switch your mindset to something more positive. For example, you’ve been surfing the internet and browsing different online bookstores. You went online to find one book and then an hour later you haven’t found the book and feel as if you’ve been roaming aimlessly. You can get upset with yourself OR you can label that time as a break that you needed so that you can reenergize and move forward. You have the power to take control of the negative emotions you feel brewing and re-assess the situation from a positive mindset.

10. Let go of Perfection
Embracing imperfection is a struggle. We often delay acting on something because we want to do it perfectly. Rationally, we know nothing is perfect; however, it’s difficult to find the balance between doing something perfectly and not doing something at all. We need to leave our comfort zone and be okay doing something “good enough.” That in of itself is probably the largest hurdle to overcome.

What techniques work for you? Do you have difficulty doing something that you know is not going to be “perfect?” Or…. do you never procrastinate and do everything perfectly– oh goodness I hope no one like that exists!


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--> P.S. The links above do not count towards link filtering :)! Please click away on those links!!

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