A few weeks ago, I shared 5 ways to swap procrastination for productivity. Since this is a huge topic, in today’s post, I want to share five more tools and strategies we can use to get started on those tasks and projects we’ve been putting off since forever.
1. Change your scene
In this post on generating creative ideas, I talked about how changing your scene can help you get out of an idea rut. When we’re in different environments, we think in different ways, so changing our setting can also be helpful for getting out of a procrastination cycle. When I need to do something I don’t particularly enjoy (like empty my inbox), I go to a cafe and make a deal with myself not to leave until I’ve reached the hallowed 0.
2. Remove it from your to-do list
Sometimes we procrastinate for a good reason. One reason is that the task at hand is something we think we should do rather than something we actually want or need to do.
If the object of your procrastination is something that’s necessary to do and you’ve been deferring it since forever, why is it still on your to-do list? Either find a good answer (and use that to spur you on), or take it off altogether and move on to something that’s more aligned with your priorities.
3. Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is one of my favourite ways to swap procrastination for productivity and kick-start a project into action. Alternate 25 minutes of focused time with 5 minutes of break. Every 4 rounds, take a 15-minute break and procrastinate to your heart’s content during that time. The beauty of this technique is that 25 minutes isn’t a painful amount of time, but it’s long enough to dive in and make good headway. Although the breaks come frequently, they aren’t so long they totally interrupt your flow. You can get plenty of apps that will time your “poms” for you, so all you need to do is put your head down and get to work until the timer sounds.
4. Rather than “being good”, focus on “getting better”
This tip comes from the book Succeed by Heidi Grant Halvorson (link to book summary). It’s a useful mindset shift if you suspect the root of your procrastination lies in perfectionism. One irony of perfectionism is we often get so caught up in needing to being perfect that our anxiety prevents us from starting in the first place.
There are a couple of ways we can shift this. The first is to prioritise “getting better” over “being good.” When we’re focused on being good, we’re comparing ourselves to others by default. When we’re focused on getting better, however, the only person we’re comparing ourselves to is who we were yesterday and before that. Being good keeps us focused on the outcome while getting better shifts our focus to the process.
Another question we can ask to shift perfectionism-induced procrastination is “What is good enough?” Again, this helps shift our focus away from being the best or having everything be perfect. It enables us to acknowledge there is a middle ground, and that is the realm of “good enough.”
5. JFDI (Just F***ing Do It)
One of the counter-intuitive truths about procrastination is that the experience of procrastinating is often way worse than just doing the thing we’re avoiding. Imagine how great it will feel when you have this thing out of the way and use that to motivate you onwards.
How do you swap procrastination for productivity? Leave a comment and share your suggestions.