Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How to Stop Procrastinating

This morning we talked about some tips on how to stop procrastinating that I found on Real Simple.  Here's a list of my favorites:

Do the Worst Thing First:   This isn't the easiest strategy, but there’s a good reason for starting your to-do list with the items you are dreading most. “We have a limited, depletable supply of willpower and resources,” says Piers Steel, Ph.D., a professor of human resources and organizational dynamics at the University of Calgary  Attack the hardest task when your energy is fresh and you give yourself the strongest chance of success.  Likewise, putting off the most dreaded items saps your strength because you spend so much time worrying about getting it done.

Start Your Day Over at 2:00 pm:  This is probably my favorite tip on the list.  Everyone has days when your morning schedule is out of balance causing your day to be less productive that you'd like.  Combat this by implementing a daily reboot: “At 2 p.m. every day, assess how much you’ve accomplished, remind yourself of what’s critical, and alter your plan so you can tackle the most important thing,” says Wisnik. Give yourself a second morning in the middle of the day.  If a new project that has become high priority, you still have the time and the energy to start it.. Whereas, if you wait until 5:00 pm to evaluate your day your stress level may be through the roof as you scramble about in crisis mode.

Make the Job Smaller:  Everything is easier to tackle if you divide it up into smaller portions.  Instead of being disheartened by how much you can’t do, look at how much you can.   Also, cut yourself some slack.  Let yourself off the hook on things that don't require perfection;  it's ok to do a good enough job on menial tasks.

10-minute Challenge:  I use this one with exercise, and it works.  So I was excited to see it on this list as well.  If you are having trouble even beginning a project, try setting a timer for 10 minutes. Work in a focused manner for that short stretch, and watch what happens. “Anyone can do 10 measly minutes,” says Debbie Mandel, a stress-management specialist in New York City.  In fact, most of the time, you will probably find yourself doing more than 10-minutes.  Sometimes it's beginning a project or workout session that is the hardest.  

Unprocrastination Day:  Schedule one day to devote to all of those things you've been putting off.

Be Accountable to Someone: It’s easy to put things off when you're only commitment to yourself. But make yourself accountable to a friend and suddenly potential embarrassment becomes a powerful motivator. It’s “positive pressure,” says life coach Cheryl Richardson

Get Rid of Tech Distractions: If the constant barrage of technological devices and being constantly "connected" is keeping you from being productive, try these apps.  There are lots of applications you can download to block electronic distractions. Here are a couple recommendation from Real Simple.  Freedom (, $10) disables all roads to the Internet for an allotted amount of time, and cheating isn’t easy.  To sneak back online early, you have to reboot your computer. You can also try RescueTime (free,; this app tracks your every online move and provides easy-to-read, painfully revealing charts that display your wasted time in pretty graphs.  (That’s how many hours I spent on Facebook yesterday?) 

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