How to stop procrastinating and get what you really want

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the article! Proof that you don’t actually procrastinate forever!

Ok, let’s rattle off some quick facts on why you should train yourself to stop procrastinating…(before you decide you can’t be bothered to ready anymore!)

  1. Completing tasks releases endorphins, which can become addictive. So, if you push yourself enough, you can actually become addicted to being productive. This means you can train yourself to the point that you never want to procrastinate.
  2. Completing the task you dread the most first thing in the morning gives you energy and can make you more effective all day!
  3. 1 minute of planning saves an average of 5-10 minutes in execution.
  4. If you write your list of tasks the night before, your subconscious will work on them all night, making you even more productive the following day.
  5. You will never ‘finish’ your tasks. There will always be more work to do. With this in mind, doesn’t it make sense to only work on the big valuable tasks? Because no matter how much time you spend on the small and insignificant tasks, you will never complete them. So, you are just wasting your own time.
  6.  Research shows that stopping and starting tasks can make them last up to 500% longer.

So how do you stop procrastinating so much?

One of the best books I have read on the topic of procrastination and time management is called ‘Eat the frog’

If you find my tips helpful and want to continue to improve, then I would highly recommend this book.

‘Eat the frog’ is the principle that in order to be most effective, the first thing you should do in the morning is eat a frog (metaphorically of course)

The idea being that if you eat a frog first thing in the morning, nothing that follows in your day could possibly be worse than this.

Which means, you will be more energised and far less likely to procrastinate.

So how do you establish what your ‘Frog’ is?

Your frog is usually the task you most dread doing…it is also the task that will likely bring you the most value once completed!

Identifying this task each day and doing it first thing in the morning is the cornerstone to productivity.

It is worth pointing out that you may have a number of frogs to eat during the course of a day. The idea in this situation is the pick the biggest, most disgusting frog and eat that first.

Eating the frog one bite at a time

Most tasks that people procrastinate on are usually quite large, (or the person sees them as large) and because they can’t be done quickly, or because it’s difficult to visualise every step of the plan, people will often not do them at all.

To combat this, we need to apply two principles:

  1. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
  2. Leap and the net will appear.

Let’s look at something simple that a lot of people procrastinate on (myself included). Going to the gym.

Often when people think about going to the gym it seems like a mountain to climb. You’ve got to get up of the sofa, change clothes, get your water bottle filled up, get in the car, drive to the gym, decide what exercises to do, and so on and so on.

Your brain sees it as one mammoth task, and so more often than not, you can easily convince yourself that you worked hard today, so you deserve a rest….and you stay sat on the sofa in your underpants watching mindless TV.

How do I apply the principles above to stop procrastinating?

A single step…

Break the task down to just the first step. In this case, get up off the sofa and put your gym clothes on. Easy right? This is all you need to concern yourself with. Don’t worry about the rest of the task.

If you can do this, I can guarantee you are 95% of the way there.

I’ve been using this trick for at least the last 3 years and not once have I put my gym clothes on and then gone and sat back down on the sofa and not gone to the gym.

Leap and the net will appear…

Essentially this phrase just means as soon as you start a task, the next step will become clear. In the example here, we might not know what to do when we get to the gym, but I can guarantee if you just turn up, you’ll work it out pretty quickly. So just don’t concern yourself with it. Go to the gym and see what happens. I didn’t know I was going to be writing this sentence when I started the blog, but I just took the first step (writing the title) and here I am! 828 words in!

Well done if you’re a self-confessed procrastinator by the way. You’re still reading when you could have easily said…’ah I’ll read the rest later’. You’re making progress already!

Be clear on what is most important and focus your attention accordingly

To be most effective in whatever you do, you must understand what brings you and your company the most value. Do find this out, complete the following task:

Break down your role within your company to all the key tasks you undertake.

Now ask yourself:

If I could only do one of these tasks from now on and forever, which would be the most important thing to do?

Now ask yourself that question again.

And once more.

You now have the 3 things that you can do that bring the most value to you and your company.

Studies show that these 3 tasks make up 90% of the total value you offer.

So now it’s time to start allocating the vast majority of your time to these tasks. As although everything else you do may be important, it is nowhere near as important as these 3 tasks.

So, if you are going to procrastinate, do it on everything except these 3 tasks!

Now you have broken down your ‘to do’ list to just 3 things. You should feel less overwhelmed and so less likely to procrastinate.

Make yourself earn small rewards

Something I’ve found very useful in my own life is to tell myself I can’t have something until I have completed XYZ tasks.

It only needs to be small things to work.

For example, if I want to write a blog, or edit a video, or make 5 phone calls. It would be all to easy to spend 5 minutes making myself a coffee before settling in to do it.

Instead, I set myself the reward of the coffee.

I must complete these phone calls before I can make the coffee.

I must edit that video before I can have my lunch.

And so on, and so on.

 Technology is a terrible master…but a brilliant servant.

If there is one sure fire way to distract you, or to make you procrastinate for even longer, it is a little ping from your phone.

One of the most valuable things you can do to stop procrastinating and start being more productive is to change your relationship with technology.

Technology is designed to make you more efficient and more productive, however, services that are technology based, such as social media have the sole purpose of stopping you from doing what you are doing and luring you in to see what’s new on their platform…and ultimately to show you adverts.

Every time you pick up your phone because you get a social media notification you are acting like a servant to technology.

I’m not asking you to turn your phone off, or even to stop looking at social media. There are very important and valid reasons to look at your phone.

What I’m trying to do is remind you that you are the master of your phone. Use it on your own terms!

Try it for one day.

Turn off all notifications except phone calls (I understand people will always need to be able to contact you in an emergency), and only pick up your phone when YOU NEED to. 

The average person checks their phone every 10-12 minutes.

If you reduce this to once every hour, or once every couple of hours a few things will start to happen.

Firstly, you’ll have a lot more time on your hands to do things that are actually important.

Secondly, you will find you concentration span improves rapidly.

And thirdly, you will stop using it to procrastinate!

I hope these tips help.

If you have any tips of your own, please leave them in the comments so that we can all learn to stop procrastinating together!

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