5 Ways to Kill Procrastination


Procrastination is one of those topics that is written about all the time. I find that while the information is useful, the short term inspiration to change your habits dies out quickly.

In my experience, procrastination is usually a result of one of these 3 factors:

– Boredom

– Incompetence

– Laziness

I personally haven’t fully solved the procrastination problem yet but I have picked up a few tricks that have helped me immensely when I need to get something done.

1) Set a Time Limit

In Tim Ferris’s book, the The 4-Hour Workweek he talks a lot about productivity and efficiency. One concept he talks about is the idea that the task will swell to the proportion of time available. Basically this means that if you have a task that should take you 15 minutes and you have an hour available, it’ll take you an hour. Tim recommends 90 minute chunks of time. I’ve found that setting a timer for 30 minutes focuses me and gives me the option to continue on for another 30 min or to quickly have a social media break. This creates a day of 30 minute work sessions which are very easy to do.

2) Share Work Space

I’m one of those weird people who finds it easier to get things done when there is somebody in the same room/table as me. We don’t socialize or talk about our projects but instead just share a space to work. This has been incredibly helpful for me because I find that it increases my focus as the expectation is to get work done, not watch the latest episode of Mad Men.

3) Finish Tasks in Advance

Ever have one of those really daunting projects that you have three weeks to get done but just seems enormous? Whenever I have to do work like this, I sit down and create a work back schedule for two weeks instead. That way, if I can have the project done early, my stress is gone and I go into overdrive for two weeks which usually results in my best ideas. If you get the task done sooner, then you can reward yourself and have a stress free extra week.

4) Create some Discomfort

People always say that the key to hammering down work is to be comfortable. I disagree. If you are too comfortable, you are more likely to want to slack off or get distracted. Your physical posture and  body language are a key part of your effectiveness. One of the reasons why wearing a suit to work everyday is useful is because it puts me in the mindset of “work mode”.

5) Don’t Listen to Music

I love to listen to classical or jazz tunes while I work. But I noticed recently that it does hinder my ability to concentrate if I’m on a deadline or I’m doing very strategic work. Sure, music can spark creativity but if i’m writing or creating a marketing plan, I find that I need to pull all my focus into my task. Some people are just fine listening to music including music with lyrics but I can say that for myself, when I turn the music off for a short period of time, it boosts my productivity.

What are your tips for killing procrastination?

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  1. I notice when I just go through 30-45 minutes of straight productivity, it definitely works. But on the contrary, classical music for me is just awesome, something nice and light in the background. Then again I am someone who seems to full concentrate in a noisy place like a cafe as oppose to a library, it’s like my concentration goes out the window and I just stare around. Another great tip and kind of similar to yours is giving your own self an allotted time, after a certain time in the day your body just shuts down. This for me is hardest since I find my peak hours of concentration begin when the sun goes down. That’s just me.

  2. I totally agree with 1, 3 & 4. Deadlines and prioritising tasks definitely helps and I’m useless if I’m not “dressed for success”; unless there’s a fundraising motive, I don’t participate in Casual Fridays. I do like to get stuck into tasks and get them finished (especially the not-so-fun jobs) so that I can move onto more interesting work.

    I am a social person, so working in open plan or shared workspaces doesn’t work for me (especially if I’m working with other women) – too many distractions. That said, I do need music to concentrate. Unless I’m having a conversation, a bit of background music helps me to focus.

    Great post!

    1. Thanks for reading the post! I too am a social person so having a private office makes a big difference to my effectiveness throughout the day.

  3. Hi there! Great article you wrote here and very relevant.

    I have a question though. Do you mind elaborate more on tip number 1? I am particularly interested in the 30 minute work sessions, how to put it into action exactly? I’m a little bit lost there.

    1. Great question! In order to stay on task, I set a timer and work for blocks of 30 minutes. If I’m working on a comprehensive project, then I may set a longer clock of 60-90 minutes. The reason is because sometimes a small or simple project can inflate into a large amount of time if you allow it to. The timer works as a focus tool more than anything. When you know you only have 30-90 minutes to complete a project, you’ll use that time more efficiently.

      1. Understood!

        I have given it a try for a week now. Though not so much improvement so far, yet I do feel keeping my self on track with my work projects better. Totally agree with the concept of using the timer as a focus tool.

        Thanks for elaborating!

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