Procrastination is the enemy. An epidemic in our world. But all hope is not lost. It is possible to stop procrastinating.
Just as in life, when it comes to learning how to conquer procrastination, there’s a lot to be said about simplicity. The easier it is to understand a concept or strategy, the more likely are you to implement it.
Here are five ways you can stop procrastinating today.
Stop procrastinating method #1: don’t trust your memory
According to a 1956 article in Psychological Review written by George A. Miller, humans can retain around seven digits, six letters, and around five words. However, it depends on the complexity of the information being stored in our brains. For example, seven short words are easier to retain than seven long words.
Another study, found in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, discovered that while early research found that the memory’s cut off was seven items, “the true capacity is lower when people are not allowed to use tricks like repeating items over and over or grouping items together.”
To avoid having to try to remember what you need to do and therefore increase the odds of procrastinating, do this: record whatever you need to remember to do somewhere as soon as you think of it. This can be in an app (recommended and discussed later) or written down somewhere.
The takeaway: when you record what you need to do someplace, you free your mind from having to track it. This one strategy will vastly improve your odds of getting more done.
Stop procrastinating method #2: schedule it!
Most people use their calendars for meetings, lunch dates and maybe medical appointments. If they are on the cutting edge, they will even schedule vacation time. But this is missing the power of the calendar.
Here’s a truth: what gets scheduled, gets done.
Take the strategy from method #1, record it, and put those things that are events into your calendar. And not just the business or “real” appointments either. Things to consider adding to your schedule:
And when you schedule events in your calendar, be sure to set one or two alerts as well. Maybe at the time of the event and 30 minutes or an hour beforehand.
Stop procrastinating method #3: reminders!
Sometimes what you need to do is not an event. Items that need to be done but are not as time-consuming as an event get put on your reminders list. Things you might include on your reminders list:
Don’t forget to set an alert (date AND time) for the reminder (except shopping lists) or else you will have to remember to check your reminders. You can probably see a problem with that!
Stop procrastinating method #4: tell someone!
Let’s be honest. The first three methods are ones that you can manipulate (translation: lie to yourself). If you don’t record what you need to do in your calendar and reminders, who will know? If you do add them but delete them, again, who would know? But, if you told someone, someone who would hold you accountable, the chances of you doing whatever you said you were going to do would go up tremendously.
Accountability is one of your most powerful strategies for getting what you need to do DONE!
Of course, whoever is your accountability partner MUST give you tough love each and every time! If you tell them you’re going to do something and you don’t, they shouldn’t let you excuse your way out of it. They should ask you why. Give you tough love.
An effective accountability partner will be an incredible asset to your success. Unlike calendars and reminders, you don’t tell your accountability partner everything…just the major things you want to accomplish.
Stop procrastinating method #5: do what Nike says!
All this knowledge is utterly worthless if you don’t implement it! Nike has it right: just do it!
Stop making excuses. This is you I am talking about. Not anyone else. The one that cares the most whether or not you succeed is you.
Apps to help you stop procrastinating
I love apps. You might call me a crash test dummy for apps. But all apps are not created equal.
And what app you should use is the one thing I won't tell you. Why? Because I don't know you or your workflow.
But all hope is not lost. Here are some ideas.
Try to use what came with your smartphone, tablet, lap top or desktop. Maybe these will work for you.
If not, then head over to your App Store and read the 5- and 4-star reviews AND the 1- and 2-star reviews. Why? Perhaps the reason someone gave it a low rating is exactly what you are looking to avoid.
Ask your friends and/or colleagues what they use and why. Ask them to show you the apps. See if you like the layout and the way it works.
Finally, try it! For free apps, if you don't like them, just delete them. For paid apps, you can get a refund (I know this is true to Apple because I've done it not sure about Android).
If apps are not your thing, no worries. Just use a notebook. BUT...use a dedicated notebook. Not the back of an old envelope or a used Post-It!
Personally, I use Brendon Burchard's High Performance Planner. It's the best planner I've ever used. But you don't have to use that one. Find one that works for you.
DO THIS: PICK ONE STRATEGY from the five I gave you and not only begin to implement it but to master it. This means to get so good at it that it becomes second nature to you. Only then do you pick another one.