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Break Your Procrastination Habit: The Best Strategies I’ve Found from Unlikely Experts

by | Aug 16, 2021 | Life Hacks

Procrastination steals a lot of people’s dreams.

I often marvel at the fact we all have the same 24-hours in a day. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? Some people seem to continuously progress through the levels of their life with no worries. Others procrastinate and become envious of those who manage to take action.

Beating procrastination is possible.

I’ve done a tonne of research, so you don’t have to, on how to beat a procrastination habit. Each strategy doesn’t come from a productivity guru. Sorry. But these unlikely experts have achieved a helluva in life and nuked procrastination in the process. Borrow one of their strategies to experiment with if you’re addicted to a procrastination habit.

Make a bulletproof plan full of tiny steps

Every time you postpone your work, the chains of procrastination strengthen.

Writer Jari Roomer said in his newsletter that you’re not lazy when you procrastinate. No, you lack clarity. A lack of clarity leads to procrastination, and if the problem continues then the resistance to overcome it gets larger.

A bulletproof plan sounds great to most of you. It’s easy to get specific with dates, times, and the duration of each task. The problem I’ve found is the traditional plan that is supposed to slap procrastination in the face doesn’t work. Why? A plan full of hard steps is difficult to execute, so you go right back to the comfort of procrastination. Then you lie to yourself with an excuse like “I’ll do it later.”

A bulletproof plan that gives you clarity and prepares you for action needs to be made up of tinier steps than normal. A tiny step gets you taking action faster. Action leads to momentum. Momentum helps you forget about procrastination and reach the end of your plan so you can celebrate with food, Netflix, exercise, or whatever you do to relax.

Procrastination can often be a product of overwhelm

Ryan Holiday gave this advice. Bloody legend. I notice when I’m overwhelmed I start to procrastinate.

This leads me to doubt myself. Then I go an entire day without writing a single thing and feel like shit at 6 pm. The problem is I jam too many tasks into the day, so I can impress the productivity gods who look down at me from above with their make-believe judgments of my life.

Now I see procrastination as a secret hint of overwhelm. That leads me to do a clean-out of all the nonsense I feel I must get done.

Pay attention to the feeling of overwhelm. It’s often followed by procrastination.

“Always surprise”

Musician Derek Sivers uses this method. It’s easy to get bored with what you’re doing. You can notice boredom creep in as you work. When you become bored it’s often followed by procrastination. The solution is to do something outrageous.

As a writer, I surprise myself by sharing a piece of me I’d rather not.

Like when I told people about my hearing being destroyed. Would have been better for me to shut up and face the battle in silence, but the surprise factor helped lift me out of a deep hole on the day I found out. Turns out readers can benefit from the lessons too. And perhaps I’ve helped a few people rethink in-ear headphones as being gifts from god.

Surprise yourself by doing something outrageous to escape boredom.

Find a smaller task within the bigger task

James Altucher gave this advice and he is superhuman (probably because he still ghosts my emails). Every year he churns out books, blog posts, and podcast episodes. He’s hardly a productivity expert but he’s more vulnerable than anybody I’ve ever come across.

If you find yourself procrastinating then it might be time to measure the size of your tasks. Take the biggest task and see if it can be broken down into even smaller tasks.

Remember: you’re trying to fool your brain with tiny progress. Progress is addictive and enables you to get to the next task until the bigger task you were afraid of ends up complete. There’s always a smaller task inside of the task that’s causing you to procrastinate.

Find the smaller task and you find the cure for procrastination.

Track your time with an app

Often, we don’t realize we’re procrastinating. The people we lie to the most are ourselves — don’t forget that.

Amardeep Parmar and Zulie Rane both use time tracker apps. I’m about to follow their lead and do the same. An app that tracks your time forces you to see where all the hours are going. What’s measured can be seen. And what’s seen can be improved.

You can’t beat procrastination if you don’t know when it happens.

Throw a hissy fit and cry like a baby

A goal you procrastinate on could be stupid.

I’ve been trying to learn Twitter. I need to overhaul my account and have been procrastinating on it for two weeks. Then a thought hit me in the head like a brick. Do I really need to be on more writing platforms?

What I realized is, the source of my procrastination is when I overdo it as a writer. Instead, I threw a hissy fit like a giant adult baby and gave up the goal. The procrastination to start has vanished.

When you give up a stupid goal, you truly find the work that matters. You’re less likely to procrastinate then.

Do the most important task within one hour of waking up

This is a strategy I use when my week is a dumpster fire. Missed items on my to-do list aren’t as bad as *not* completing the most important task of the day.

I find if I do the most important task of the day within one hour of waking up, the rest of the day feels straightforward and the other tasks leftover are easier to get done.

Another hack is to allow yourself to only complete this one important task. Tell yourself, “I’m doing this one important task and then the rest of the day is mine to goof off.” I rarely use this technique and then waste the rest of the day. The fact my brain has permission to dream guilt-free gets my butt into action.

Complete your most important task to kill productivity guilt.

The more systems we put in place, the less we find ourselves procrastinating — Aytekin Tank

The Bizarre Benefit of Procrastination

Wait, what?

Stoic enthusiast Zat Rana has an entirely different view on procrastination. He says the time we waste brings us closer to death. Death as motivation is a good thing because it can limit how much you procrastinate.

0% procrastination is impossible, though. But the hidden benefit of procrastination is it reminds us to pay attention, so we do it less.

Procrastination makes life shorter. Beat procrastination to make life longer and full of experiences that make the time on this big rock worth it. That’s how you bend the limitations of time in your favor.

It all boils down to this

Bar Franek helps decrypt the procrastination puzzle that has spanned centuries with this thought I’ll leave you on: Spend your most valuable time on your most valuable activities and you’ll change the trajectory of your life.

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