At least 20 percent of the U.S. population consider themselves to be chronic procrastinators.
Do you fall into this group? If so, we’re here to help.
Keep reading for 11 productivity hacks that will help procrastinators take control of their lives.
Negative Effects of Procrastination
Procrastination doesn’t just result in a lot of dirty looks and wasted time.
Several studies from the last few years have shown the procrastination has a negative effect on everything from our health to our finances.
Some of most troubling effects procrastination include:
Have you ever put off paying a credit card bill because you just weren’t feeling it? There’s a penalty for that.
Have you ever avoided regular maintenance on your car, only to have it completely break down on you? The repairs were probably a lot more expensive than the maintenance, right?
Procrastination also hurts businesses. It’s estimated that procrastination costs some companies over $10,000 per employee each year.
Procrastination can also have serious negative effects on your mental and emotional health.
When you wait until the last minute to turn in assignments, pay bills, or finish projects at work, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of unnecessary stress.
Increased stress can also wreak havoc on your health and immune system. Frequent procrastinators are more likely to experience colds, the flu, and gastrointestinal issues.
Procrastination also hurts all kinds of relationships.
If you’re constantly waiting until the last minute to finish projects, your coworkers and bosses will probably be less inclined to assign you to them.
Procrastination also puts extra pressure on your family members. If you can’t be bothered to help out around the house, someone else has to pick up the slack.
Our Best Productivity Hacks
Are you now feeling a little more motivated to kick procrastination to the curb?
These productivity hacks will help you take control of your life, at home and at work.
1. Create a Checklist
When you’re first assigned a task, take time to break it down into smaller chunks and create a checklist for each chunk.
If you’ve got to write a report, what are the smaller pieces it’s made of? Some pieces might be research, an outline, the introduction, etc.
Allowing yourself to check off each of these chunks as you accomplish them will give you the motivation to keep going.
2. Create a Schedule
When you’ve made a checklist, map out your day and create a timetable around all the tasks on it.
For example, let’s say you get to work at 8:30 a.m. and find out that you have to write a report by the end of the day.
Maybe you’ll do Internet research from 9:00 to 10:00, then outline the report from 10:00 to 11:00. Then you’ll take a short break from 11:00 to 11:15, then start writing until your lunch break and 1:00.
Deadlines are crucial here.
Your big deadline is at 5:00 p.m., but setting mini-deadlines throughout the day (have research done by 10:00, have the outline finished by 11:00, etc.) helps you stay on task.
3. Make Room for Breaks
As you saw in the example schedule, we allowed time for breaks. Breaks actually help you stay on task, as long as you stick to your schedule and don’t let a five-minute break turn into an hour-long one.
Haven’t we all fallen into the trap of saying we’re taking a five-minute break, only to emerge from a YouTube rabbit hole two hours later?
To avoid this, you can set a timer for the duration of your break so that you know when you need to get back to work.
4. Get Outside
Fresh air can be a lifesaver when you feel your productivity starting to fade.
When you’re taking a break, consider going outside for a quick walk around the block or parking lot. You’ll feel refreshed and energized after taking a break from the computer screen.
If you work from home, it can also be helpful to take your work elsewhere. Head to a library or coffee shop for a few hours.
You’ll be amazed at how much you can crank out when you’re not tempted by the TV or distracted by the mountain of laundry that needs to be folded.
5. Find an Accountability Partner
Another option is to find someone to hold you accountable for getting things done on time.
Whatever you have a tendency to procrastinate, whether it’s work, bills, or exercise, knowing that someone is going to reprimand you might be just what you need.
You’ll have to figure out what works best to hold yourself accountable. For some people, they just need a stern text or comment from a friend or coworker. Others need to up the ante a little bit.
One option is having to pay someone a dollar every time you procrastinate. A dollar might not seem like a lot, but what if you had to give one up every time you opened up your phone’s Facebook app?
You’d probably stop procrastinating pretty quickly, right?
6. Eliminate Distractions
It’s really hard to stay on task when your phone is ringing and your email notification keeps going off.
One of the easiest productivity hacks you can implement today is to simply get unnecessary gadgets out of your workspace. Put your cell phone in a drawer and turn off notifications for emails and group chats so there’s nothing to distract you.
If you have coworkers constantly coming in and out of your office, put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign or send a quick email telling them you’ll be busy for the next few hours.
7. Start the Night Before
If you catch yourself procrastinating on chores and tasks around the house because you just don’t have enough time, it helps to start preparing for a successful day the night before.
Set out your gym clothes so you don’t have to dig through the laundry early in the morning. Prepare your food at night, too so you don’t have to waste time making breakfast and lunch.
This will only take a few minutes, but it will make your life infinitely easier.
8. Establish a Morning Routine
A morning routine, especially one that includes some kind of exercise, has been proven to increase productivity.
Think about it. You’ll have already accomplished something (or multiple things) within the first hour of your day. If you can get up and go to the gym, do some meditation, or write in a journal first thing, what can’t you do?
9. Eat the Frog
This strange saying, coined by author Brian Tracy, will help you rethink the way you take on tasks throughout the day.
The idea is that, if you have to eat a frog, you’ll probably make it the first thing you do during the day so you can get the worst part behind you.
Take this same approach to work, or chores, or anything else you have to do.
Hate laundry? Eat the frog and make it the first chore you knock out. Then it’s done and you don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day!
10. Focus on Progress, Not Perfection
Many procrastinators are actually perfectionists who don’t want to start something until they’re totally sure that it will be perfect.
This mindset leads to a lot of unmet deadlines and unfinished projects, though.
Remind yourself that, often, done is better than perfect and progress is better than perfection.
This shouldn’t be an excuse to deliver a less-than-stellar finished product. But, if you’re waiting for the perfect situation before you get started, you’re going to end up waiting for a very long time
11. Know When to Say No
Sometimes, we end up procrastinating because we say yes to things that we really don’t want to (and don’t have to) do.
Maybe you’re afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, so you say yes to whatever they need and put off something more important.
To avoid this situation, work on saying no in a polite but firm way.
It’ll be scary at first. But, with practice, you’ll love the freedom that comes with refusing to do things that don’t help you reach your larger goals.
Give Our Hacks a Try Today
Don’t procrastinate implementing these productivity hacks.
We challenge you to try just one today and see if it makes a difference. What have you got to lose?
Let us know how it goes in the comments below!