6 Tips to Stop Procrastination (and Get Things Done)

Productivity Time Management

Maximize productivity and stop procrastination by utilizing these six tips. Work past what you dread and trick yourself into being more productive!

The desire to stop procrastination and actually stopping are two different things entirely. People procrastinate because they don’t want to do the task at hand for any number of reasons, but the time and effort it takes to avoid completing that task only makes a stressful situation even worse.

“The cost of putting something off might include new business we could have done or earnings we could have made had we got on with the task immediately,” notes Frances Booth at Forbes. The longer something gets put off, “the more time we also waste on things like deliberating with ourselves over whether to get on with it or not.”

Here are some tips to help you overcome procrastination and to become measurably more productive:

1. Tackle the Hardest Part First

This may sound counterintuitive at first, but for most of us, it makes sense to tackle the most challenging task when our energy level is at its highest, rather than expending our resources on incidental things and having no willpower left afterwards. In addition, checking off the hard part first adds immeasurably to our sense of achievement.

2. Observe the Two-Minute Rule

Challenge yourself to see how much you can get done in a focused, intensive two-minute period. Determine what part of a larger project can be achieved in two minutes and do it now. Then pinpoint the next two-minute task, and repeat the process. “If you have a big assignment pending, just tell yourself to work on it for two minutes,” says Janet Miller at Fast Company. “You may be surprised to find yourself still plugging away after an hour.”

3. Complete a Rough Draft

If you have a message to deliver to employees or a proposal to review and comment on, take time right now to do a first draft (without worrying about how good the writing is, whether it all makes initial sense, etc.). The key is getting something down on paper so you can push beyond the procrastinating, non-achieving stage. Come back to the draft the next day and finish it up.

4. Forget About Perfection

Following that last point, completing 80 percent or 90 percent of a task can be enough to move on to the next challenge. We often fall back on the notion that something must be perfect before we can consider it done, but for the most part, perfection is just another excuse to do nothing. Once the biggest part of any task is completed, it may be easier to sweep in and finish the rest at a later time.

5. Try a Change of Scenery

Being stuck behind a desk or some other familiar setting often facilitates more, rather than less, procrastination. Relocate to a different venue ā€” a local coffee shop, the library, or another part of your company’s physical location ā€” with the intended purpose of focusing solely on the task at hand. With the right level of determination, this can help get you moving forward.

6. Enlist an Accountability Partner

Look into your professional network and identify an individual whom you trust and respect to become your accountability partner. Once he or she agrees to help out, schedule regular check-ins during the day (or every other day) in order to report on your progress and accept that person’s gentle push to work harder. This person can remind you about why you asked for their support in the first place and help keep you on track.

You can also stop procrastination through the use of time management apps. Using the power of your smartphone, tablet or computer, these apps can help you note how your time is spent, track your calendar and to-do list and reduce unwanted distractions. With the right app, you can start making note of where your time goes and begin using it more wisely.

From tracking time spent on projects and monitoring scheduled check-ins with employees and reducing distractions, take a look at four highly praised time management apps that can stop procrastination dead in its tracks.

Lee Polevoi
Lee Polevoi

Lee Polevoi is an award-winning business writer who specializes in the challenges and opportunities facing small businesses in the U.S.A former senior writer at Vistage International (a global membership organization of CEOs), Lee regularly contributes articles, white papers and blog posts to a variety of small business websites, including Paychex, Intuit Small Business, ADP, Hewlett Packard'sā„¢ The Pulse of IT, Catapult Groups, Avalara TrustFile and many others.