Looking to get stuff done and finally stop procrastinating? Then you’ve come to the right place! I am a master at postponing things but I have recently discovered some tricks that work really well for me, so I thought I’d share.
To say I am a procrastinator is an understatement. In all my many years of postponing things, I definitely believe I have reached expert levels by now. Don’t know about you, but I tend to postpone A LOT – either because things seem difficult (big projects, unknown territory) or because I simply do not feel like it at the time.
To give you an example, I love my soft cashmere sweaters, but I absolutely DREAD hand-washing them. To the point that I leave them on a chair for weeks in a row, waiting for a moment when I will feel like washing them. I sometimes move them closer to the “action” – near the bathroom sink, where they generally spend other several weeks before I actually wash them. Same story with my sports bras too.
Getting myself motivated to workout (and not postpone it) is another example. Very often I would have very good intentions the night before (I will wake up early and go for a run before work- awesome, right?!), but by morning, as soon as I see the slightest chance of rain or my Inbox filled with emails, I tend to postpone it for later in the day. And guess what? “later” never comes.
In my professional life, I would tend to postpone a difficult project very close to the deadline. But that’s ok, we procrastinators have one good thing in our favor – we work really well under pressure ;).
How to stop procrastinating
At the end of the day, procrastination is completely tied to your habits. There is some great knowledge out there from the field of neuroscience on how to form good habits and get rid of bad ones. I wholeheartedly recommend you to check out the books The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg and Atomic Habits, by James Clear. Or give Mel Robbins’ The 5 Second Rule a try. They are packed with great information and tips.
So, through my vast research on the topic and my own trial and error, I have discovered some insanely easy tricks that worked wonders for me. Here they are:
1. Make it Impossible to Avoid
This particular trick works incredibly. Whenever you catch yourself tempted to postpone a certain action (or knowing you always do so), at THAT moment do something to make it practically impossible to be postponed.
Here is what I do in my case of postponing hand-washing my Alo Yoga sports bras after a workout, or cashmere sweaters. I soak them in the sink right after I’ve finished the workout. Once I’ve showered, I would wash my sports bra right away. Since it’s already soaking, I won’t leave it there for hours or days anymore. Procrastination problem solved!
2. Make it Easy. Put On Your Workout Clothes (even if you won’t exercise right away)
As we are currently in the middle of a pandemic, many of us are working from home. And yes, I know what you are thinking – Olga, I’m already wearing my yoga pants 24/7! But hear me out: go one step further and put on that FULL gym outfit, especially the sports bra.
From my experience, I find that once I am fully dressed, I will definitely find the time to work out at some point during the day. This is perfect for those days when you simply can’t stick to your usual workout time slot.
3. Take Action – Use the 5 Second Rule
This is a great tip to stop procrastinating from Mel Robbins’ book and can be applied in SO many situations. In short, our brain is designed to keep us safe (and comfortable). Whenever a new thought (which requires action) comes up, it takes simply 5 seconds to be reconsidered and action is most likely stopped. That’s why, when that alarm goes off in the morning, you are so tempted to snooze it and stay longer between the warm and cozy sheets.
So whenever you feel like postponing things, stop. Count backward from 5, 4..3..2..1 (similar to a space ship launch as she describes it), and GO! Take action. Do that thing you wanted to leave for later. Don’t give your brain the opportunity to talk you out of it.
4. Do One Thing You Don’t Feel Like Doing, Every Single Day
As most of the time, we postpone things simply because we don’t feel like working on them, this tip helps build WILLPOWER. And we know that willpower is like a muscle, the more you train it the stronger it gets.
I tend to plan those sorts of things for the morning when I feel like my willpower cup is full. 🙂 This is when I schedule my workouts and any other important tasks that need to get done.
5. Take on a “Stop Procrastinating Challenge”
I’m not sure if such a thing even exists, but it doesn’t matter, we’ll make it up! 😀 How about for the next 10, 30, or even 90 days you will stop procrastinating and take action whenever your mind is telling you not to. How would you feel at the end of that week or month? How much would you have accomplished compared to the previous week? I’m sure A LOT more.
Taking on challenges has worked wonders for me. It’s very motivating to see the progress as you go by so I definitely recommend it. I have started a Sugar Challenge more than 6 months ago and I’m still continuing. I have managed to reduce substantially my sugar intake and eat a lot healthier.
So there you have it. I hope these tips will help you as much as they help me and let’s make 2021 the year when we finally stop procrastinating!