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5 Tips to Trick Your Mind into Overcoming Procrastination

Updated 2 months ago.

Mind over matter, right? Sometimes, that’s easier said than done. When we’re faced with a laundry list of to-dos and with not enough time in the day, it can be easier to distract ourselves and push things off to the next day. And when more items get added to our list, it becomes overwhelming, and we continue to procrastinate even more. A vicious cycle, but one that can be overcome.

In order to overcome procrastination, we have to first understand it. Start with perspective—procrastination may not be something you can ever fully get rid of. And that’s okay. When you accept that it may be a part of your process, that’s the first step to figuring out how to work through it. The reason why many of us procrastinate is because we choose to do something that’s more immediately gratifying than something we know we need to do, but it is probably not as fun. Procrastination is an emotional reaction, and we put off necessary tasks in order to stay happy in the moment.

So, how do you overcome procrastination and move on to a mode of productivity? Here are 5 tips to trick your mind into overcoming procrastination.

1. Make It Super Easy to Get Started on Your Task

The hardest part of completing some tasks is getting started. Sometimes thinking about a task can snowball into feeling overwhelmed because of what the task entails. If you’re going into the task with a dreaded mindset, that will make it harder to get started. It’s much easier to get started if you don’t think about it as much.

For example, if the task at hand is getting out of bed to go work out, you might find yourself thinking about how you have to find your workout clothes, then you need to make sure you have clean socks, and by the time you work out, half your day will be over—before you know it, you’ve convinced yourself to stay in bed.

Set things up ahead of time so it’s super easy to get started. If your goal is to work out in the morning, make sure your clothes are laid out the night before. Then, when you wake up, just get out of bed. Don’t spend time thinking about whether or not you want to work out, or you’ll fall into the same pattern as before. Just get up, get dressed, and get out.

If the task at hand is making prospecting calls to potential clients, start with making a list of people to call and the script you will use for what to say. Once you have that list and script, set it next to your laptop (or open it in a notes document on your laptop) the day before you even start the task. Now that your prospect list and script are ready and waiting, all you need to do is pick up the phone and call! You can also open up any CRM you use ahead of time, so you’re ready to take notes on your calls. The less you need to think about it in the moment, the easier it will be to get started.

2. Remove All Distractions
Yes, I’m talking about your phone. That’s probably one of the biggest distractions from doing our work. Want to know a super-secret strategy for not being distracted by your phone?

Either flip your phone over, turn it off, or remove it completely from the room.

The simple act of not having your screen in front of you, with notifications popping up and noises sounding, can make a huge difference in making sure you are able to focus on the task at hand. If you wear a watch with notifications, the same suggestions apply to that.

Have a browser window open with dozens of tabs but need to get started on that blog post? Separate out one browser window and just focus on getting your writing done, so you’re not tempted to see the other sites you were browsing.

The bottom line is, simplify your environment and pare it down as much as possible to remove any and all distractions, as much as possible.

3. Think of a Reward for Completing the Task
If there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, of course you’ll want to push it off! Think of a reward for when you complete the task.

Maybe it’s a drink at your favorite smoothie place, or tacos for dinner. It could be something larger, like that shirt you’ve been eyeing. Having a reward gives you not only something to look forward to, but something to work towards.

When you think about how much you’re going to enjoy the reward once you complete the task at hand, it can help you make better decisions about getting started. Your reward could even be the completion of the task, especially if it’s something you’ve been putting off for a while. Think about the relief you’ll feel once it’s done!

4. Set a Timer to Work on the Task
Sometimes it’s not knowing how long a task is going to take that can deter you from even starting. What if it takes longer than you think? What if that keeps you from doing other, more important activities? Might as well push it to tomorrow.

Set a timer so you know exactly how long you’ll be working on the task. Start with 25 minutes and see how you feel, and if you’re in a good flow, set the timer for another 25 minutes. That way, there is an end in sight. The Pomodoro timer is a good one to check out to keep you focused on the task at hand for 25 minutes at a time before reminding you to take a break.

If you have a deadline the next day and absolutely need to finish today, try setting timers with breaks in between, if you can. That way, you’re at least breaking up your day, so there is an end in sight after each time the timer goes off.

You can even make a game out of it. Set a timer first for 10 minutes. If you “beat” that timer, try setting another timer for 15 minutes. Keep going for as long as you can, and before you know it, you’ll be done!

5. Give Yourself Permission to Try Again the Next Day
Some things are okay being put off, and it’s okay to give yourself permission to try again the next day. It’s easy to get into a cycle of feeling disappointed or discouraged because you didn’t get something done that you meant to get done. But if you forgive yourself and give yourself permission to try again, you’ll approach it with a better mindset the next day. You’ll have less negative feelings around what you’re putting off, and you’ll be less likely to procrastinate again with self-forgiveness.

Once you understand why you procrastinate and accept it as a natural part of the process, you can figure out the best way to deal with it. By practicing these 5 tips, you can go forth and conquer procrastination! To summarize, make it super easy to get started, remove all distractions, reward yourself for completing a task, set a timer so there’s an end in sight, and if you don’t get to something, give yourself permission to try again the next day (just don’t make a habit of this).

For more help on creating your ideal business and ideal life, reach out to me today and schedule your complimentary consultation.

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Aim for what you want each and every day!
Anne Bachrach
The Accountability Coach™
The Results Accelerator™

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Author of Excuses Don’t Count; Results Rule, Live Life with No Regrets, No Excuses, and the Work Life Balance Emergency Kit, The Roadmap To Success with Stephen Covey and Ken Blanchard, and more.