How to Reduce Procrastination

procrastination productivity self improvement Feb 15, 2021
Woman playing on your phone

If you’re a human being alive on this planet, you procrastinate.

And just so we’re on the same page, according to Google, procrastination is defined as “delay or postpone action; put off doing something.”

Have you ever delayed doing something? Put off what you really needed to do?

Of course, you have.

We all have.

Even me, Mister Productivity.

The question then becomes: how much do you do procrastinate?

High performers and those naturally productive tend to procrastinate far less than others and usually on minor things.

But it’s still procrastination.

Whether you are an infrequent or every day (all day?) procrastinator, here are three ways to reduce how much you procrastinate.

I believe if you’re still breathing, you won’t ever completely stop procrastinating. There will always be things you don’t want to do. That’s life. But there is plenty that you can do to help reduce it.

DON’T DO IT

Not everything needs to be done.

Be honest: have you ever moved a task from one day to the next? And to the next. And the next?

At some point, you have to ask yourself, “am I ever really going to do this?” Or, “does this even need to be done now?”

This is the challenge with apps. It’s so easy to move a task you’d rather not do to another day.

That’s why I’ve all but stopped using a to-do app in favor of a bullet journal.

To move a task from one day to another with the bullet journal, you have to write it again on the next day. And then the next day. And so on.

It won’t take you long after writing the same task repeatedly before you ask yourself these two questions:

  1. “Am I ever really going to do this?”
  2. “Does this even need to be done now?”

CHALLENGE: the next time you look at your to-do list and see a task that you didn’t do today for whatever reason and are tempted to move it to another day, ask yourself the two questions above.

Then think about this question:

WHAT WOULD HAPPEN if you ignored the task?

If you’ve been moving it for several days (or weeks!) already, the answer is probably nothing.

So, stop moving the task or tasks!

Don’t do it and move on to something you should do.

And if, for some reason, someone asks you why you didn’t do a specific task, play dumb. Kindly ask them to remind you of the task.

SCHEDULE IT

There’s a reason the phrase, “what gets scheduled, gets done,” is said so often by productivity coaches.

Because it’s true.

A blank spot on your calendar is one of the worst things for your productivity.

Tell your time where to go instead of wondering where it went. ~ Mark Struczewski

Many people only put so-called real events on their calendars:

  • medical appointments
  • interviews
  • coaching calls

But what about:

  • exercising
  • meditation/prayer/quiet time
  • personal development/reading
  • social media (yes, social media, but only be on it when it’s scheduled)
  • chores (for those who work from home)
  • walking the dog

When you proactively tell your time where to go, you are far less likely to procrastinate.

THE ODAE EXERCISE

This is an exercise I created that helps you get rid of the stuff you should. ODAE stands for outsource, delegate, automate, and eliminate.

The chances are good that you’re doing too much.

So, do this.

  • over the course of 2–5 days, write down everything you do along with how long it took. No editing. No judging. Just write.
  • when you’re finished, put your list away for a full day.
  • on the next day, schedule at least an hour on your calendar, set your phone to do not disturb or turn it off, and review your list.
  • anything that you can outsource, place an O next to it
  • anything that you can delegate, put a D next to it
  • anything that you can automate, put an A next to it
  • anything that you can eliminate, place an E next to it
  • now, here’s the fun part: actually outsource, delegate, automate, and eliminate those things. Need help? Go google, “how do I outsource <whatever you want to outsource>”

When you do this exercise, you’ll be amazed by how much stuff you can take off of your plate and mind, freeing you up to do things that 1) you want to do and 2) that you’re good at.

BEWARE! Nature abhors a vacuum! As you make space in your life, you’ll be tempted to fill it with utter nonsense. Don’t do this.

Use this new-found space to focus on what truly needs to be done.

Even the most productive people I’ve coached have received value from doing the ODAE exercise.

YOU CAN’T ELIMINATE ALL PROCRASTINATING BUT…

Your productivity is your responsibility.

You must own up to that.

If you’re struggling with procrastinating, maybe you have other issues.

Maybe you’re not living the life you want, and that’s why you’re procrastinating.

Figure out the life you want to live and begin to make the transition. Don’t quit your job or move to another city today. That probably won’t solve your problem.

It all starts with self-awareness.

Take time to think about where you are, how you feel, and where you want to go in life.

Even better: schedule time on your calendar to do this. Write your thoughts out in a bullet journal or any notebook.

This will help you gain clarity.

Which will reduce how much you procrastinate.

Good luck. I’m cheering you on.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Thank you for reading it.

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