How to Stop Procrastinating Once and For All

procrastination productivity Jun 01, 2020

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"What I've found is that while everybody may procrastinate, not everybody is a procrastinator," APS fellow Joseph Ferrari, professor of psychology at DePaul University.

Some statistics

In 1978, 5% of people surveyed admitted to chronic procrastination. Today? 26%.

According to a Gura survey in 2008, 40% of people have experienced financial loss due to procrastination.

1 in 5 people procrastinates so badly that it may be jeopardizing their jobs, credit, relationships, and even their health.

In 2012, it was estimated that the cost per year for procrastination for businesses is $10,396 per employee.

Cost-benefit analysis

Make the benefits of whatever you need to do feel bigger and the costs of doing the action feel smaller to get you to move. The reward for doing a pestering task needs to feel larger than the immediate pain of tackling it.

Visualize how great it will be to get it done

How will it feel to get what you need to complete?

Vividly see yourself completing the task.

Researchers have discovered that people are more likely to save for their future retirement if they’re shown digitally aged photographs of themselves. Why? Because it makes their future self feel more real—making the future benefits of saving also feel more weighty.

Social accountability

Tell someone or someones about your struggle with procrastinating.

Write a blog or social media post.

Even better, create a video.

Ask people to hold you accountable.

Don't try to defeat procrastination alone.

Confront the downside of inaction

While we might weigh the pros and cons of doing something new, we far less often consider the pros and cons of not doing that thing. Known as omission bias, this often leads us to ignore some obvious benefits of getting stuff done.

List out on paper the consequences of not doing what you need to do.

Identify the first step

What is the first step (if you're just getting started) or the next step (if you were moving but are now stuck) you need to do?

Too often we look at how far the finish line is when we haven't even put our sneakers on yet!

Tie the first step to a treat

Create an appropriate reward for yourself for when you complete that first/next step.

Remove the hidden blockage

What's really going on?

Why don't you want to do the task?

Sit down with a notebook and list all the reasons that are blocking you from doing whatever it is you need to do.

Get real with yourself.

Getting organized

Begin to plan your time intentionally. At the beginning of your day or at the end of the previous day, sit down and think about your next day.

On Sundays, think about and plan for the week ahead.

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

Set yourself up for productive success

Create a bedtime routine so you're getting to bed at the same time each night. Turn off all screens at least one hour before lights out.

Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and comfortable (don't underestimate the importance of a quality mattress).

Get up at the same time every day (yes, 7 days a week). Your body loves consistency. 

Create a morning routine that allows you to start your day in a positive way.

  • Read a spiritual text, devotional or inspirational book
  • Plan for your day
  • Exercise 

Note I didn't say you should check email, social media or the news. Why would you want to start your day exposing yourself to these things?

Hang around productive people

Read their blogs, books, or follow them on social media. Listen to their podcasts. Purchase their courses, attend their webinars, or other training.

Schedule time for non-needle moving activities

Look: you're going to do these activities anyway so you might as well schedule them so you can stay productive and get these other things done as well. This will also prevent you from doing them when you should be doing other things.

It is possible to defeat or significantly reduce your procrastination with a little intentional effort.

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