Don’t let things or people distract you into procrastinating

You wake up in the morning motivated and ready to tackle whatever it is you’ve been procrastinating on. Or maybe you’re excited about a new project. You drink your coffee, get dressed, and get ready to get to work. Then something happens.

Maybe you open your email, or worse Facebook and get sucked into spending the next few hours on your computer. Or maybe a good friend calls and asks you to go shopping. Or you get an alert that your favorite TV show dropped on Netflix. It doesn’t matter what it is, the point is that there are people and things that will try to distract you into procrastinating. If you let them.

Strategy – plan the night before

There’s a simple strategy you can use to keep this from happening. It’s to make the important project you’ve been procrastinating on a priority and working on it first thing every morning. The whole process starts the night before. Before you call it a day, sit down and make a simple plan for what you want to get done the next day. Identify the three most important tasks. This will be things that start to move the needle. Maybe they are all focused on one main project, maybe it’s several things you know you should be getting done.

Write 3 things down

Write these three things down. They don’t have to be anything big. In fact, I find it helpful if they are all items I can take care of in an hour or less. When you get up in the morning or get to your office, look at your list and work on these three most important tasks before you do anything else. Don’t look at the email. Don’t start playing on your phone. If possible don’t even answer the phone or attend meetings before these three tasks are taken care of. Make them your number one priority.

Don’t leave it to the end of the day

This alone will make a huge difference in how your day goes, how productive you are, and it of course keeps you from procrastinating on those projects. Putting them off until the end of the day when you’re too tired to do anything is no longer an option. Stop procrastinating: strategize, write 3 tasks down, complete them first thing in the morning and beware of things that derail your plan. Click To Tweet

Pinpoint what caused you to procrastinate

Aside from that, simply being more aware of what things, devices, and people tempt you to procrastinate is helpful. When you find yourself putting something off, look back and see if you can pinpoint what caused it. Then take action towards preventing it from happening in the future.

If you’re having trouble changing your habits, book a complimentary 30 minute coaching appointment to discuss how to increase your productivity and reduce your procrastination.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She has been working with clients since 2006 to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She uses her love of physical activity to reduce clutter, in your home, office, mind and time. Get started by downloading Tips for Reorganizing 9 Rooms.

Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

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Comments

  1. I’m really connecting with your idea about pinpointing why you are procrastinating. I find this is perhaps more helpful than anything else. Is it because I have no idea how to proceed? Am I overwhelmed? Do I think it will be unpleasant? Do I not want to spend money? There can be many reasons, and often it is possible to come up with a plan to alleviate the source of the stress. Wonderful tip!

    • A big step for me was when I realized that procrastination is caused by not knowing how to solve the problem. It might be one small step in the entire process that stops everything from getting started or it might be understanding the big picture and how to manage it. Now when I procrastinate I figure out what is the problem I need more information or help to solve, find the answer and it is amazing how easy it is to get it done.

  2. Great tips! Making things you need to do a priority helps tasks get done and shows that you care about yourself. Prioritizing helps you not feel out of control, so keeping the tasks you do inline will allow you to practice self-care as well. It’s a win-win. =)

    • You raise a good point. If we don’t see our own value we lose sight of why we need to do certain things. We are worth treating ourselves well. I just spoke with a client about using an internal motivation to get things accomplished instead of external motivation. For example, declutter your basement so you can enjoy it and have a nice space rather than I need to declutter it for the company.

  3. I’m not a procrastinator. At least, USUALLY I’m not a procrastinator. But when I am going in that direction, I stop to tease out why. That’s an important step because I see it as an indicator. Is it that something else is a priority at that moment? Is it that the thing I thought I wanted really needs to be deleted from my list all together? Is it that I said “yes” to something I would have prefered to say “no” to? Or, am I too tired, hungry, antsy at this particular moment to focus on that thing? Once I find my answer, I can move forward- whatever “forward” means for that choice.

    • Thanks for sharing those questions that you consider when you don’t want to do something. Making this into a tool that can be posted in a prominent spot could be very helpful for some people.

  4. Such excellent advice, Julie. I know what distracts me (the news!) and what causes me to procrastinate (avoiding a project where I can’t yet visualize completion). Really identifying your priorities and hitting them first is, in the end, the only way to get things done. You are so, so right.

    (But I will admit, I work best at night, 11p-3a, so I do often put things off until the end of the day…but maybe I can count those accomplishments as really, really early the next day?) 😉

    • Fear of failure is what causes me to procrastinate on big projects. It takes a while to talk myself out of that mindset and start working on the project and figuring out a solution to the things I am having trouble handling. Once I get the plan success is on the way. I used to work from 12- midnight and have things accomplished in the morning too.lol.

  5. Oh Julie, this is soooo me! I usually plan ahead what I need to focus on the next day. I mess up when I open email first. That messes up my whole morning. I’m trying to reform myself.

  6. I find the same thing is true for me. I will take a quick scan of my email to see if a client has booked or cancelled and then turn off the email app or I will never get out for my morning walk.

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