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Get Sh*t Done! 5 Ways To Stop Procrastinating

Last week, something unusual happened to me.

I came down with a severe case of procrastination.

For 3 days, every time I sat down to work, I felt an irresistible urge to check random websites, watch some videos on Youtube, or fire up a quick episode of How I Met Your Mother.

Getting myself to do any productive task was a struggle of epic proportions.

No matter what I tried, I just couldn’t stop procrastinating.

Ever felt like that? It sucks, doesn’t it?

The weird thing is, I almost never procrastinate. Focusing on the job at hand and getting sh*t done is something I take great pride in, so I usually do all in my power to get in the zone and be productive.

But last week, it just wasn’t happening.

Early Friday afternoon, I’d had enough. I made a deal with myself. I wouldn’t try to get any more work done that week, instead I’d take some time over the weekend to figure out why these uncontrollable bouts of procrastination had occurred, and how to prevent them in the future.

Come Sunday afternoon, I hiked up a mountaintop and spent several hours in deep meditation, asking for answers. I asked the divine force to guide me using several incantations and even chants in foreign tongues.

Ok I’m just kidding, I didn’t do that. But I did take some time to think and reflect on my productive meltdown. I came up with some solid solutions and strategies, and today I want to share them with you.

Here are 5 powerful strategies to help you stop procrastinating.

***

“Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” ~Lord Chesterfield

***

1.    Lose The Snooze

Snoozing is something I usually never do. Even back in my swimming days, when my alarm went off at the ungodly hour of 5:00am, I’d jump right out of bed.

But last week, I indulged in a few snoozes every morning (even though my alarm was only set for 9:00am). I figured it was harmless, that it wouldn’t really make a difference in my day. But it did. It really did.

Consider this: whenever your alarm goes off and you hit snooze, you’re making the very first decision of your day, and you’re choosing procrastination. Not a good start!

You’re telling your subconscious mind that it’s OK to procrastinate, and you’re likely to do it many more times later.

When your alarm goes off, don’t be weak- just GET UP! This inspired choice will set the tone for a productive day.

2.    Get Started Right Away

Ok so now that we’re out of bed and we’ve made it to work, we have 2 options:

1)   Get Started Right Away

2)   Mess Around For a Few Minutes

Last week, after getting to my workspace, I’d give myself permission to check out my favorite MMA news site for a few minutes, or maybe take a quick scroll down my Facebook Newsfeed to see what everyone was up to.

I figured…“a few minutes can’t hurt right?”

WRONG!

That decision has a HUGE impact on the rest of our day. I’ve realized that the moment we check a distracting website (news, Facebook, etc), the temptation to check it again later VASTLY increases.

It’s almost as though we’ve opened a little door in our head, and every few minutes we want to go back and hang out in that “room”. The key is to keep the door shut for as long as possible, that way the temptation will remain minimal.

When you sit down, don’t open that procrastination door, or else it’ll be tempting you all day! Get started. Go for it. Be ruthless!

3.    Commit to 15 minutes

Imagine there’s a task you have to do, and you REALLY don’t feel like doing it. Every time you think about starting it, you feel this incredible resistance inside. You’d pretty much rather do ANYTHING than start…

Here’s a trick I’ve used with great success this week to get back into “productive mode”: with any task I’m not really inspired to do, I commit to doing it for only 15 minutes.  After that, I get to decide if I want to continue or not.  

Guess what generally happens?

The first 5-10 minutes are awkward and uncomfortable… but by the time I hit the 15-minute mark, I’ve entered “the zone” and I’m feeling pretty good, so I just want to keep going.

The hardest parts of any task are usually the dreadful anticipation beforehand and the first few minutes. But once we’re past that, we’re rolling!

Smash through that resistance with the 15-minute strategy and you’ll be on your way to completing whatever needs to be done.

4.    Get An Accountability Partner

2 months ago, I joined what’s called a Mastermind Group. It’s a group of up & coming entrepreneurs who get together to support, coach, and challenge each other to become the best they can be.

Through the group, we were matched up with an accountability partner, someone with whom we shared our weekly objectives and how we were going to accomplish them.

The next week, we’d share how it went and what were able to accomplish. If we’d slacked, our partner had every right to call us out and challenge us to do better.

As you can imagine, something like can do wonders for our motivation.

Last week, interestingly enough, was the first week when I didn’t have a meeting with my accountability partner. Not only was I less organized, but I didn’t have this commitment to someone outside of me to stay focused.

To combat procrastination, find an accountability partner. It be one of your coworkers, a friend, or someone you study with. This partnership will help both you get clear on what needs to be done, stay on track, stay on track through the week, and ultimately creates the results you really want in your life.

Right now, take a second think of a person you could use as an accountability partner.

All right NOW take action! Give that person a call, send them a text/email immediately about this idea. Don’t procrastinate on that. An accountability partner will change everything, I promise.

5.    Give Yourself Deadlines

One of the most powerful motivators to avoid procrastination is a looming deadline. Haven’t we all at some point spent 2 days avoiding working on an assignment, only to go into superman mode a few hours before it was due?

When there is no formal deadline for something you’re working on, just give yourself one! And then share it with someone else (ie, your accountability partner!), so you can’t back out of it.

As I’m typing this, I have 19 minutes left before the deadline I gave myself for this post. I’m in superman mode. Procrastinating isn’t even an option right now!

Ok your turn: what’s one task you’ve been procrastinating on lately?

Ok  now DECIDE on a deadline for it. Commit to it.

All right, you’re on. Make it happen!!!

***

We all know it, procrastination sucks! It makes us feel lazy, wastes our precious time, and leads us nowhere. If we want to create our greatest life, it’s something we absolutely need to eliminate.

Now that you’ve got some strategies, there’s no excuse not to take back control of your time/life.

On this note,  let’s go get some sh*t done! :)

Cheers,
Phil

PS What are is YOUR strategy to stop procrastinating?

Please share this post, so more people can stop wasting time procrastinating!

*** 

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Posted on : 19, Apr 2012

33 Comments

  • Here’s my trick : http://e.ggtimer.com/30

    Let’s say I got 3 hours of work ahead of me (approx..) Well instead of looking at it like a 3 hour job, I look at 6 x 30 mins. Why ? let’s face it, no one actually keeps a 100 concentration mindset for ever. My limit is somewhere between 30 and 45 mins.
    By Splitting my work into 6 milestones, I force myself to get to a milestone everytime I work 30 mins. If I get to my milestone faster than expected, I reward myself with freetime until the next 30 mins rush(FB, here I come). This way, I get about everything done in a superman mode in 30 mins rushes, which allows me to be lazy as f*ck in between, I still need to figure out how to get more productive “in betweens”…!

    NB:Pretty sure I stole this trick from Tim Ferris…!

    • Great stuff Nik!! I’ve been using the Pomodoro method on and off as well and it’s great. Definitely good to have these shorter spans as it prevents us from going off track and also from focusing too much on the details (which I tend to do). One of my favourite teachers says to aim to complete your work at 80% and then move on.. (i.e., 80/20 principle). Aiming for perfection is a sure-fire way to not get a lot of sh*t done.

      PS Have you seen this: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2012/04/24/tim-ferriss-a-day-in-the-life/ ? I picked up a new trick.. work standing up! Tried it last night and it kicked ass!!

  • Haha like always, right on time!! :)) I have an exam on Monday and I can’t force myself to study as much as I need. I have a lot of calculations to do and I wander off every time I don’t understand how to solve a problem (and it’s often). Haven’t got much will power to do something I don’t understand a bit, especially when I don’t have all the materials.
    I found myself again on the web instead of trying to figure it out, and when I saw the title of your post I couldn’t not-smile xD
    Great tips, thanks again man ;)
    I’m off :)

    • Hahah nice, hope the exams went well!! Are you all done Uni for the years? What’s your plans summers? Are you going to be working?

      • The one I studied for at the time of the article went pretty good in the end, I managed to study properly :) The next is in 5 days so no time to rest.
        Not sure if I understood the second sentence exactly.. If you thought am I all done with College, not yet, still 2 years after this semester.
        For summer I really don’t have strict plans yet… I hope I could find a job so I can afford a week to the sea side at least finally. But every year I don’t know what to do, how to do it, how to find a decent job… not so good at that so I end up sitting home, and studying what I’m interested in so it doesn’t feel like a lost time :/

        • Hmm I don’t know how it works in your country as far as finding jobs.. but you’re a smart guy, if you really wanted to I’m sure you could figure it out. “If there’s a will, there’s a way!!”.

          And if that doesn’t work.. why not start a blog this summer? :) I could help you if you want.. That could be a great investment for your future..

        • true, I hope so.
          Well, maybe I even try to start a blog, will think about it. I’ll see how I will manage my time and what will the inspiration be like. But it would be fun, althought it’s a little hard for me to write in English, but I could give it a shot. Thanks :)

  • Good post as always! I ( and I know you do too ) love to put on music while completing tasks, and limiting myself to however long the song/playlist/set is.

    So if I have something quick to do, like clean up my room, i put one tune on and try to finish it before then.

    If I have an assignment or something longer to do, I put on a 1-2 hour set by Armin, Tiesto, Gareth or whoever ( a sick site for this is http://soundcloud.com/edmtunestv ) or a CD ( one CD = 74 hours of music or less )

    If I have a business to start or something major ;) I put on one of Armins legendary 8 hour sets :D

    Boom boom! Get shit done

  • Oh yea, and Iphone -> Turn it to airplane mode! No more distracting notifications. Get off facebook and skype on your computer as well.

  • This is timely, I’m just rushing through a last minute packing frenzy! I move tomorrow and only just started packing at noon today :D
    My number one strategy for fighting procrastination is deadlines, I always get things done when they need to be, due to being obsessively on time for everything. I have an accountability buddy as well, but we don’t see each other often enough. If I’m feeling lazy, a shower will always help me wake up and feel fresh and ready for a challenge :)

    • THanks for sharing CArina! Hahah I know exactly how you felt.. I’ve had so many instances of packing in the middle of the night for an early morning flight.. but somehow we always get it done!! Deadlines are totally the way to go.

      PS Shower… cold or hot?

      • I’ve been thinking of doing the cold shower challenge, but still only take those on hot days, though lukewarm I do often.

  • First off, that part about incantations and chants in different tongues had me scared for a minute. That was funny…really.
    Anyway, I have to say, you are spot on with that whole don’t snooze thing. On the mornings when I get right out of bed, I am far more productive.
    And, I really need to stop distracting myself with Facebook and other sites like that……
    In fact, I am procrastinating from going to bed right now…..does that count? :)

    • Hahah yeah I too struggle with getting to bed, there’s always interesting stuff to check out in the wee hours of the morning.. even though we know we’re f*cking over our morning self haha.

  • Love the dont snooze part – Not making the first decision of your day one of procrastination is huge!

    Another great article!

    Stay focused – and keep smilling!

    • Yessir :) big things popping for both of us, gotta get it done but remember that life is happening right now, not when this or that will be accomplished :)

  • This was motivating…I was in the middle of procrastinating by checking out this website! The internet is a big distractor for me, I like these rules, I’m now going to start 15 minutes of work. If I’m back on here in 15 minutes making more comments, than I really need to find an accountability buddy…

    • You didn’t come back… I guess that’s a good sign !!!

      A lot of us can be unstoppable.. granted that we actually START!! :)

  • 1. I look a the clock.
    2. I say to myself: Man, you’re so lazy!
    3. I divide the last few hours of the day in order to be more productive.
    4. I allow myself to take a break of at least an hour after going to bed (shower, movie, tv show, book, sex…) This makes me feel good and gives me time to relax after stress.
    5. The next day I feel happier.

    • Hey Carlos! Thanks for sharing, I appreciate it!

      I like your idea of taking time before bed to relax.. I like working at night and sometimes don’t do that..but I feel it in the morning.. Like everything is all about BALANCE :)

      Just one little thing, for #2 I would encourage you to say “Man, you’re BEING so lazy”.. don’t reinforce the fact that you as a person are lazy.. because you’re not :) you’re just choosing to be in that moment!!

  • Great tips!

    I have a problem with accurately scoping the effort required to do a task, so with #5 – give yourself deadlines – I don’t know how to approach that successfully. The deadline I’d give would end up arbitrary, and therefore easy to break (“oh, I must’ve underestimated that one, just like the last 10…”)

    • Haha yeah I hear you on that.. we always tend to underestimate how long a task is going to be. Maybe try to give you a little more time than you think is necessary… but then make that deadline non-negociable.

      We’re all capable of so much more than we think. That greatness is inside of us, it’s just a matter of pulling it out!!

  • omg it’s like you are talking about me .. even the same show HIMYM lol … this is happening to me and I have so much studying to be done these days .. I think one of the solutions is to set specific breaks and to empty the workplace from distractions … great articles and blog btw

    • Thanks buddy! Haha yeah HIMYM is amazing isn’t?

      Yes having a clean workspace has been shown to increase productivity (although I don’t apply it all the time.. there’s a bunch of crap on my desk as I write this haha) and yeah even if use the Pomodorro technique (25 minutes on, 5 minutes off) that should help you a lot. You can use this app http://www.focusboosterapp.com/ to time it for you.

      Good luck, get it done!!

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So, what do you think?