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November 04, 2020 4 min read

Procrastination - it strikes us all at some point in our lives. Whether it be writing that major report, studying for an exam, or even just taking the trash out, many of us can be masters in the art of “I’ll do it later.” 

Procrastination leads to inefficiencies, to rushed work, and to a doomed juggling of different projects. Worse, it comes with a significant dose of guilt, which transforms the simple act of “putting things off” into intense feelings of guilt, self-hatred, and anxiety. Not ideal at all! 

The good news is that there are a number of tools you can use to turn your day around and get things done. Below we’ve listed our 6 best tips to manage procrastination effectively, so you can stop twiddling those thumbs and start feeling productive. Let’s get to it!

 

Ask Yourself Why

There’s a reason you are putting things off. What is it? Have a think about the root cause of your procrastination and see if acknowledging that issue can help you move forward with your task. 

Ask yourself: 
  • Am I procrastinating because the task is boring?
  • Am I procrastinating because the task seems insurmountable?
  • Am I procrastinating because I don’t believe I’ll do a good job? 
  • Am I procrastinating because there’s something else I’d rather be doing? 
  • Am I procrastinating because I’m annoyed at myself for procrastinating so long?!

If you take some time to acknowledge how you’re feeling and why, then you’re halfway toward fixing the problem and moving on. If you don’t take this step, you’ll just keep banging your head against that brick wall. Ouch.

Often, procrastination can stem from small, but stubborn bad habits - such as being too distracted by your phone, or going to make a coffee and then needing a full hour to settle back into work. If this is you, taking steps to acknowledge and break your bad habits is a great way to get renewed traction with your work. 

 

Eat the Frog

This advice comes to you from none other than Mark Twain, who wrote that “if the first thing you do in the morning is to eat the frog, then you can continue your day with the satisfaction of knowing that this is probably the worst thing that will happen to you all day.” 

What does that mean in practice? 

To Eat the Frog means to tackle your biggest, or most unpleasant task as early in your day as possible. Tip-toeing around a project, dwelling on it, and dipping in and out of it are all sure-fire ways to make the task seem that much bigger and more intimidating!

So switch things up a bit. Do a cursory check of your emails in the morning, then get straight into the greenest, nastiest frog of the day. Once that’s done, you’ll power through your other, easier tasks and probably have more time later to actually enjoy yourself!

 

Done is Better Than Perfect

Procrastination can be the curse of people with perfectionist tendencies. If you’re a perfectionist, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Starting can feel so, so difficult when you have huge expectations about how the task will turn out. In fact, sometimes your expectations are so high that you can’t even bear to get started for fear of not doing a good enough job. 

Sound familiar? If this is you then never fear - there’s a fix for your inertia. Repeat this mantra to yourself whenever your mind starts to look for hiding places from the task at hand: 

Done is better than perfect.

DONE is better than perfect. 

Most of the world’s most successful businesspeople are where they are in life not because they do things amazingly well, but because they actually get things done. All your best ideas mean nothing without a good dose of action. 

Break Things Down

Don’t know how to manage procrastination and actually move through your to-do list? One of the best tactics you can employ is to break your project down  into easy-to-achieve chunks. 

If your task is to ‘clean the kitchen’, for example, you might break it down like this:
  • Unpack the dishwasher
  • Mop the floors
  • Dust the counters
  • Wipe down the microwave
That way you’ve set yourself up with small, bite-sized pieces and when you achieve each one you’ll be able to enjoy the satisfaction of ticking them off the list!

Reset

Our brains don’t respond well to all work and no play. As much as you like to think you just need to ‘push through’, the opposite might actually be true. Listen to your mind and body and decide whether you’re ‘just procrastinating’ or if you actually need to step away and take a breath. 

Taking a walk, doing some yoga or meditation, or having a snack in the sun are all great ways of resetting your brain so you can better focus on the task at hand. 

So yes, I’m telling you to procrastinate in order to manage procrastination - but it’s good procrastination, I swear!

 

Keep a Planner

Last but not least, keeping a planner is one of the best things you can do to manage procrastination in your day-to-day life. 

By writing a daily planner and keeping it with you at all times - either in physical form or digitally on your tablet - you’ll have a written commitment to getting certain things done on certain days. There are so many ways a planner can help you stay motivated and organized in life - but managing procrastination is definitely one of the main ones! 

 

Manage Procrastination Your Way

I’ve covered 6 tips to manage procrastination effectively, but really you could get over this mental hurdle using just one or two of the tools above. At the end of the day, the reasons behind your procrastination are unique to you (or that dreaded task you’re facing), so take some time to discover the tactic that works best for you. Good luck, and happy frog munching!