tips for conquering procrastination

By this time, I think we all know that I am a notorious procrastinator. If it can be put off just one minute longer, I will find a way to do it. The problem with this is that it makes everything more difficult. Stalling just makes whatever it is you’re avoiding seem bigger and less manageable.

I’m a busy, hustling momma with way too many tasks to keep track of in the course of any given week—from my kids’ social schedules to my freelance projects and assorted appointments to remembering to do laundry and clean my house (which is what I forget about most often). Life can seem overwhelming. Unable to run away or just sit in the closet eating chocolate all day, I’ve figured out a few ways to break my nasty procrastination habit. Now, I don’t always live by them (um, I wouldn’t have a procrastination problem if I did), but when I do it really, really helps.

tips for conquering procrastination

Set a timer

It sounds silly and like something I’d do for my kids, but setting a timer is really good for making sure you don’t get caught down a rabbit hole “researching” (which I talked about in my post on procrastination techniques) or performing other tasks that you have a tendency to spend way too much time on.

For me, these time sucks generally involve Facebook, Pinterest, or my email. I start off with good intentions: scheduling a post for my Facebook page, looking up something I pinned or trying to clear a bit of my inbox. But I inevitably get sucked into some alternate universe, look up and realize that 45 minutes have passed and nothing has been accomplished.

If you set a timer for say 20 minutes, you’re jolted out of that other dimension and back to reality, where you realize you have a million other things you should be spending your time doing.

Close all other windows in your browser

Again, this is very simple but makes a big difference. You don’t need to know you have a new email the second one comes in and you don’t have to watch your Facebook notifications or know that there are 54 new Twitter updates. None of this has anything to do with completing whatever task is at hand. Closing all other windows helps you stay in the zone.

And if it helps you, tell yourself that when you’re done with what it is you’re doing you’ll set that timer for 15 minutes and let yourself get sucked into the places you had open before you move on to your next task.

procrastinator

Set goals. Being paralyzed leads straight to procrastination.

Setting goals is so incredibly important. It keeps you focused on what you’re working towards, which in turn keeps you motivated and less likely to procrastinate. When you write these goals down, it keeps them right in your face so that you’re confronted with them when you’re trying to make a decision. You can then ask yourself if what you plan to do brings you closer to your goal.

Without knowing what your goals are (or at least mapping them out clearly), it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and say Screw it! I’m binge-watching Gilmore Girls instead.

Break it down

After you set clear goals, the next step is to break them into smaller actions that will help you achieve them. This goes a long way in making daunting tasks seem smaller.

I bought a new planner this year that has changed my life. I realize that sounds ridiculous. But I got one of those yearly planners that has a monthly page and then is broken down into weeks, which I’ve never done before. I use the monthly calendar to write down important due dates and schedule out my month so that I can see what’s coming up at a glance. But being able to plot out my week has been so. freaking. helpful.

I like to write down three major things I want to accomplish each day. Having too many can make me feel like a failure, but three is enough to set me on track and keep me from being overwhelmed. There’s no agonizing over what needs to get done because I break it down by the day, prioritizing what needs to be accomplished first for any given week. I also like to write a couple of little to-dos on the side to get to if I finish everything (notice I said if—too many tasks is paralyzing).

Go for a walk

If you’ve done all of these things and you’re still feeling really overwhelmed, step away and take a brain break to get a change in perspective. Sometimes a little bit of space from the project at hand is the best medicine. You can suddenly see things in a new light or be revived by a little fresh air. And sometimes just knowing you can get away is enough to make you feel better.

Reward yourself.

Sometimes, no matter what steps you try to take, you still can’t stop yourself from avoiding something. This is when you have to turn to straight up bribery. Depending on the size of the task, come up with a little prize to dangle in front of yourself when you get to the finish line as an added incentive. The trick is making sure the incentive is worthy. If it’s too small it won’t be helpful. If it’s too big it can cause bigger problems. Sometimes a deliciously unhealthy dessert will do it. Other times it might take a pair of shoes. You just have to figure out the magic formula.

Do you have any tips for conquering procrastination? Let us know what works for you in the comments!

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Written by Jennifer Garry

Jen is a freelance writer and girl mom from New York. When she’s not knee-deep in glittery crafts and girl talk, you can probably find her sprawled across her couch in the middle of a Netflix marathon with dark chocolate smeared on her face. The struggle is real.