You probably know this feeling too well. Your to-do list is getting longer, you want to stop procrastinating but simply don’t know what to do. Finishing your work would make you feel so much better BUT by some unknown force of nature, you’re suddenly doing all kinds of other things except of the things. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are watching Netflix or are scrolling through Instagram. You might even do productive things like cleaning your room, decluttering your closet or doing the laundry. This form of procrastination is called productive procrastination but where does it come from?
What is the cause of productive procrastination?
Since productive procrastination is a mindset “problem”, the underlying cause is psychological. When you procrastinate, you avoid feelings of shame and vulnerability. Instead of really tackling that ONE THING that would move you forward, you do things you’re already familiar with and good at anyways. If you choose to do the task that is really important, you could fail and your ego wants to protect you from that experience. The problem is: While doing productive things such as cleaning and doing the laundry might ease your guilty conscience for a short while, at the end of the day you will still be disappointed in yourself because you still haven’t done the important thing.
Why perfectionism is stopping you from getting things done:
In order to stop procrastinating, you also have to consider whether it might be perfectionism that is in your way. I want you to imagine the following scenario: What would happen if starting today, you wouldn’t focus so much on the outcome anymore and just enjoy the process? How much time would you save? How different would your life look like?
The truth is, most of us focus way too much on the outcome and lose ourselves in doing things the “perfect” way. It also happens to me. When I create a Pinterest graphic, I want it to look as beautiful as possible but at the same time, I always have to remind myself that editing a graphic for one hour and finding the perfect colour won’t help my overarching goal. By overthinking everything, you put a lot of pressure on yourself and even block creativity and workflow because you’re not operating from a place of joy, but from a place of worry and anxiety. In order to avoid this, I show you 5 amazing tools on how to stop procrastinating and finally get shit done.
5 Amazing Tools To Stop Procrastinating and Get Things done:
1. Change your internal dialogue
What we say to ourselves really matters. You probably often say “I must finish my project” or “I have to go to work” ; at least that’s what most people say. However, I challenge you to say “I intend..” or “I choose…” instead. These phrases are more positively connoted and I used this a lot while studying for my exams at university. When I told myself “I get to write this term paper” instead of saying “I have to write this term paper”, I was more motivated and it sounded less like a chore.
2. Set your intention the night before
It’s so helpful to already start planning what you get to do the next day the night before. Make sure to set a clear intention and to say out loud “I intend that.. ”. The next morning, after waking up, make sure to repeat this and write it down in your journal (if you don’t have a journal, I highly recommend getting one). This way, you always remind yourself what your focus is. If possible, only set one to three intentions. If there are too many, you might end up in decision fatigue.
3. Minimize distractions
In this day and age, distractions are literally everywhere and not only people want to get your attention but every app on your phone is competing for it. You probably get tons of push notifications on your screen and every time you pick up your phone, you get distracted from your focus. Did you know that it takes on average 23 minutes to refocus after you get distracted? That’s actually insane! So instead of letting your precious time go to waste, I’d recommend you turn all notifications off. You’ll usually find it under “settings” → “notifications”. What also helps is to declutter your phone. You probably have many apps you’re not even using. Only keep those that you really want and need.
4. Have a clean and decluttered environment
When thinking about how to stop procrastinating, your environment also plays an important factor. Do you want to work on a desk that is full of old files, letters and general clutter? The answer is probably no. However, when you see a desk that is sparkling clean, has lots of space and looks “inviting” enough to do productive work, you’re much more motivated. Also, make sure that your environment is quiet and you can even play around with positioning your work desk. I recently learned more about “feng shui”, which is about the art of placement. Since I decided to turn my work desk around and make it face the front door, I am somehow more productive. Just try around and see what works best for you.
5. Become aware of the cost of inaction
When you’re feeling completely unmotivated and want to do everything else but not what you should be doing, there is a simple mindset trick that can help you. In these moments, think about the opportunity cost of inaction: “If I don’t do XY, what will the cost be in one week from now/one month from now/two years from now?” We often underestimate the compound effect both action and inaction can have. It’s important to keep an eye on what you will be losing if you continue to procrastinate. It’s better to feel the pain of pushing yourself than to feel regret later on.
Finally, I want you to know that procrastination is a mindset that you can change with the right tools and habits. The more you fight procrastination and consciously choose to go through the pain and get things done, the easier it will get. One thing that I like to say to myself when I struggle with procrastination is “Better done than perfect”. In doing so, I remind myself of what really matters (my long-term goal) and it prevents me from losing myself in perfecting every single detail.
Now that you know how to stop procrastinating, let me know in the comments which tool worked best for you. I’d love to hear from you.
Love and light,