If you have always wondered about how to stop procrastinating, here are the 10 best procrastination hacks to beat that unhappy habit of yours. But first, let’s explore a few questions before letting out those hacks. Still, you may jump over to the last part of this post to read them.
The first thing to remember is that procrastination is a voluntary activity. It’s something that you do on purpose, and not something that happens by chance. You may define it as an intentional delay in taking action.
How Does Procrastination Make You Unhappy?
- Procrastination can harm your relationships — personal and professional. If you’re habitually late at a date with your friend, or mostly show up late at office meetings, you are definitely causing yourself to settle into a quicksand of bad reputation. It will be an open secret that you do not care about other people in your life.
- Apart from the reason that procrastinators lose their social connections, which are our greatest source of happiness, they also suffer from regret. The regret comes in at a point when they recognize they can’t mend it by any Herculean means at all.
- Most chronic procrastinators become liars as well, cooking up elaborate excuses to justify their being late. Nevertheless, sooner than later, they start getting caught. Initially, people see through the lies and choose not to mention them. Later on, when they know they are hearing another lie, they show what they believe about it — with just a sly smile or a full-on verbal rap. Still later, they stop caring about you and your work.
- Procrastinators have a strange relationship with time — they often believe the time is always up against them, and they have to outpace it somehow. This constant fight against time takes a toll on their energy and willpower.
How To Stop Procrastinating?
Remember, all the best hacks in the world won’t make you get off your seat and get over your procrastination unless you take action.
And right now, even if your monkey mind is telling you that these won’t work for you, please go ahead and give these a fair try. Remember, they won’t work unless you work. So, get going as soon as you finish this.
10 Hacks To Overcome The Procrastination Habit
Here are 10 highly effective strategies to overcome the procrastination habit:
1. Acknowledge The Problem
• Recognize and admit that you have a problem with delaying things deliberately and needlessly. Know that it’s you who is subverting your own plans. This is the first step.
2. Start To Work On It Now
• Get started now. Whatsoever it is, you just get started on it. Don’t pass on yourself any chance to wait for a better mood or a better circumstance. No one is assured a future. Your body cells are dying, and new cells are being created all the time. Even your own brain treats your future self as a stranger.
3. Stop Overthinking It
• Do not overthink. Do not worry about how would you fare with the task or how will your final task look like. It will wear you out and whittle away your willpower. Read this in-depth article on how to stop overthinking.
4. Break it Down Into Mini-Tasks
• Break down your task into small bites. Fix timelines for completing each of these sub-tasks. And be kind to yourself, to forgive yourself when you fault on meeting a timeline.
5. Use The Pomodoro Technique
• Adopt the Pomodoro technique. It’s a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo, in which you specify a timer for 25 minutes (or more, or less), and keep your nose down at the task till the timer bell rings. This lets you work without distractions. When you’re done, take a break.
6. Make It Interesting
• Make the task interesting. At least make the most boring parts of it interesting by turning it into a game you’d enjoy. Ask for help on how can you make it interesting.
7. Remove Social Media Distractions
• Log out of your online social media accounts. Virtually everything that has a continuously updating feed, disconnect from them. Mute your emails and smartphones too.
8. “You’re Not A Last-Minute Hero”
• Forget telling yourself that you work best under pressure. It’s a lie. In all your past experiences, all the jobs that you finished in the eleventh hour were results of not having them done when you had enough time, and not because you were given that small window of time.Forget telling yourself that you work best under pressure. It's a lie. It's always been a lie. Click To Tweet
9. Stop Trying To Multi-Task
• Don’t attempt to multitask. Plenty of us have got ourselves hooked to multitasking, a trendy, attractive, but fatally deceptive addiction. However, it’s a myth that multitasking makes you more productive.
You can’t achieve more by trying to do several things at once; believing otherwise is only an illusion.
Multitasking is shifting your attention back and forth from one task to another. This on-and-off focus-switching makes you inefficient, and lowers the quality of your work.
Devora Zack explains in her amazing book Singletasking: Get More Done-One Thing At A Time how doing one thing at a time decreases stress, enhances productivity, and creates higher-quality output.
10. Practice Mindfulness
• Practice mindfulness. It can help you observe the present moment non-judgmentally, without fear or anxiety. Once your anxiety about the present is gone, you find it easy to start working on your project. Mindfulness can help us overcome procrastination by paring down our instant gratification urges regulated by the brain’s limbic system.
As Dr. Timothy Pychyl says: “Really what we want to do is downregulate the limbic system and upregulate the prefrontal cortex. And mindfulness meditation is a path to that.”
3 Quick Hacks To Stop Procrastination
Just for you, our unhappy procrastinator, we pull out the three main key techniques from the ten above:
- Break tasks into small parts,
- Set a timer, and
- Begin straightaway.
20 Procrastination Hacks By A Zen Guy
- Form A Do It Now Habit
- Do Your Most Important Task First
- Do It For Just 10 Minutes
- Break The Work Into Tinier Tasks
- Love Your Work, or Find Work You Love
- 30-10: Work For 30 Minutes, Take Break For 10 Minutes, Repeat
- Set A Deadline
- Put Public Pressure On Yourself
- Reward Yourself
- Consider Not Doing It
- Think About Positive Aspects of The Task
- Clear Away The Distractions
- Merlin Mann’s Hack: 10 minutes Work, 2-minute Break, Repeat
- Procrastination Dash
- Track Your Time
- Overcome Your Fear
- Get A Task Master
- Pre-Schedule It
- Structured Procrastination
- Prepare Yourself
Why do you procrastinate, and how does it impact your happiness? Find out here in this Lifehack article by the same author.
Does Procrastination Make You Unhappy?
Yes, procrastination can make a person unhappy. Not while they are doing it, but usually later on. A chronic procrastination habit can reduce one’s overall happiness. Research shows one major reason for this to be regret.
Indeed, procrastination more often than not leaves you unhappy in the end. Many people, including quite a few researchers, have found this to be true.
The Procrastination Research Group, run by Timothy A. Pychyl, Associate Professor of Psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, and an international authority on procrastination, interviewed over 10,000 people in a survey. They found that 94% of the participants confessed procrastination indeed takes away some piece of their happiness.
Apart from the 10-hacks-cheat-sheet to beat procrastination above, three more science-proven techniques to get better of this unhappy habit of yours are:
- Goal Setting: Set goals for yourself. Make these goals SMART or HARD.
- Growth Mindset: You can and should develop a growth mindset.
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): This helps, as experts say.
Find out how to fix a related problem: Always Late To Every Meeting? A 5-Step Solution!
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy—a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes on mental health, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).