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November 5, 2014

Why Wait? How our Friends Banish Procrastination for Good!

Caroline Smith

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©©GettyImages/Paul Bradbury

When we asked people on Twitter and Facebook for their #mindtoolstips on beating procrastination a few weeks ago, we received some interesting responses: “I’ll tell you tomorrow!” was a popular one!

But – in all seriousness – we received some great suggestions, so thanks to all of our friends who contributed!

On Twitter, a good top tip from @LonsterBrau was to identify tasks that will take less than five minutes, and do those straight away. Similarly, @dawnieando said that as soon as you recognize that you're procrastinating, act upon it immediately, because it’s less stressful in the long term.

“Act as you go” was another popular message, which makes a lot of sense. So, rather than letting tasks build up, try to tackle them straight away. Splitting your time up into smaller, more manageable chunks so that tasks don’t become overwhelming was another great suggestion, made by @alsed.

One method that people use to avoid procrastinating is to limit common distractions. For example, @Hoodster42 said, “turn your Outlook off and finish the task you're working on,” which is a great point. Set times during the day to check your emails, such as once in the morning and once in the afternoon, to avoid getting sidetracked.

Another popular recommendation was to change the way you view the things that you’re putting off. Kingson Ekeh on Facebook recommended having a “do it now” attitude. Mary Humphrey uses the same approach, but tries to figure out why she is procrastinating, and then treats this as a challenge to address.

Thank you, Rossouw Nel, for recommending an app called "Trello," based on Kanban, which is a continuous improvement tool. This app is free and is a visual way to organize the important things in your life.

Rossouw Nel also mentioned a tool called “War on Procrastination.” When you use it, you press “play” every time you start working, and then press ‘pause’ when you stop. This helps you become more aware of decisions that were previously subconscious or habitual, and encourages you to modify your behavior.

Do you have any other good suggestions on how to banish procrastination? Let us know below! Then, see our article for more top tips!

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11 comments on “Why Wait? How our Friends Banish Procrastination for Good!”

  1. I read an interesting article the other day with the title, "Don't do email first thing in the morning". The person said you should give attention to the most important thing on your agenda first thing in the morning. If you open email first, your mails will often run your schedule on your behalf! And to be honest, I think many of us do emails because we procrastinate doing more important/more complex tasks.

  2. I am definitely guilty of doing emails first thing in the morning (probably to delay the regular tasks of the day!) I suppose I worry that if I don't check my email first thing, I may miss something important... I may experiment and see if this works. Thanks for sharing, Rebel!

  3. All the suggestions in this article illustrate how certain words or terms influence our behavior and attitudes in work and life. I often think of "be diligent, or giving all diligence" to set my mind to performing tasks in a timely fashion. What is especially interesting about these phrases is that they are found in the New Testament as instruction to excel in daily living.

  4. For those who procrastinate, and I was a big time procrastinator, my suggestion is to attack the work straight away. It is advisable that the work is broken down into bit sizes and then completed one piece at a time. Before starting the work, it seems to be a very difficult and hard work. But believe me once you start on the work, everything will fall in place. And it is a habit. If you can adopt this approach for a month or so on a daily basis - it should become your second nature.

    1. Thanks for your suggestion, Shivajyoti Pal.

      Personally, I like the two-minute rule. If you can do a task in that time, do it now. And even if you can't, you can make a start in two minutes. That gets you over the initial hurdle. There are countless examples from my life where I put off jobs, but as soon as I start, I wonder why I made such a fuss!

  5. Following in the same vein as other comments, I actually timed some tasks that I constantly put off by using the, "I don't have enough time" excuse. I found that cleaning out the dishwasher actually only took 4minutes. No more excuses.....

    1. That is such a good idea, Donna. I can't believe it when people complain about how emptying the dishwasher is a chore - it takes just a few minutes to do! Put the radio on, and it seems to take half the time. Same with most jobs, actually.

    2. GREAT point Donna! We do often procrastinate things that won't take much time at all. And the longer I think about doing something (as opposed to doing it), the bigger it seems to become in my head! 🙂 (blush)

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