The past few years have been all about hustle culture. And it was fun at first, but after a while, we all kinda got burnt out. Now, instead of being excited to work, we’re exhausted from it. Who wants to be connected to their boss 24/7? Not me. And probably not you either. And so procrastination is on the rise. After all, when you’re not excited to work, what else do you do? Delay it. Maybe you need a bit of a break, or maybe you realize the career or education path you’re on isn’t really for you. No worries. In this article, you’ll learn how to stop procrastinating (while making sure you’re living a balanced life).
How to stop procrastinating
1. Do things you enjoy
Typically, when you procrastinate it’s because you’re doing something you don’t enjoy. It’s like the red flag of life. Ding ding ding. You’re not happy doing this activity, so let’s put it off until later. It’s true that you can’t always do the things you enjoy. However, you have a ton of control over choosing what to focus on. For example, you can choose a career path that feels fun for you. Or you can make your work more fun by working with people you like or listening to some music while you do it. If you’re studying for an exam at school, you have choice in the electives you choose for the next semester. So, you can learn more about topics you have a genuine interest in. At home, if you don’t feel like cleaning up a mess, you can pour yourself a drink and listen to upbeat music to make the process of cleaning more laid back.
2. Make boring things more fun
Blending things you don’t like with things you like can help make boring things more fun. For example, if you’re studying for an exam but you’re struggling to focus or concentrate because the topic bores you, you can write songs about the topic at hand. You could change the lyrics of a song to make them about what you’re learning. I mean, who doesn’t like music? But that’s not the only thing you can do. You can study with people who are passionate about the topic and ask them to teach you to help them study. Sometimes, hearing another person explain something helps things resonate better. And with more people around, it might allow for more natural mental breaks. Another way to stop procrastinating, is by watching YouTube videos about the topic you’re learning about. Seeing an enthusiastic person with a lot of views sharing their expertise on a topic can be more enjoyable than reading.
3. Start with the easy aspects first
If you keep procrastinating on your workload, consider starting with the easy aspects first. There are two types of people, though: those who start with the hardest task and those who start with the easiest. If you’re procrastinating, starting with something hard isn’t going to push you along. So, start with the easiest. What’s a small step you can take to stop procrastinating. What’s step one of your to do list that still has big rewards? If there’s something on your list that’ll give you a quick win, do it. That way, you get to cross it off and make some good progress on it.
4. Acknowledge that you’re procrastinating
Often, those who procrastinate are called lazy or that’s how they describe themselves. Laziness and procrastination are not the same thing. Procrastination is a mental block people put on themselves because they’re afraid of failing or appearing stupid. It’s also a block people put on themselves when something just feels like a straight up drag. Having piles of work or exams to study for isn’t fun. You know what is fun? Turning off the brain and watching Netflix. When your brain is on 24/7, sometimes you just need to shut it off. It’s hard to be on all the time. So, acknowledge what this procrastination is really about. Is it burn out? Boring? Or is there just too much pressure to succeed? Then, focus on solving that problem. With burnout, add more time for fun and breaks. If it’s boring, add elements that allow you to make it more enjoyable like music. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and pressure to succeed, take a different route, such as YouTube videos to learn instead of text books.
5. Eat, exercise, and pour yourself a coffee
Whenever you feel like procrastinating, do the things that are causing the procrastination. For example, if you feel restless and want to exercise before working, then do that. Instead we end up working while feeling restless, so we end up accomplishing less. If you need some food for the stomach to fuel your brain before a study session, then eat. You don’t need to reward yourself with food. Otherwise, you’ll just be distracted thinking about it instead of prioritizing your studying. Also, don’t be afraid to pour yourself a cup of coffee before you start studying or working, it’ll help you concentrate better. Many workers need coffee by their side while they work to become productive. So, you can stop procrastinating, just by listening to your body to eliminate distractions for when it’s time to focus.
6. Doing something is better than nothing
One thing to remind yourself to help you figure out how to stop procrastinating is to do something, anything. It’s better to do something than nothing. If you’re juggling multiple tasks, pick one to work on first. You don’t have to sit down and examine which task should be prioritized. Sometimes, it’s better to work on the thing you want to work on first than the thing you’re dreading first. You’ll finish more things by finishing tasks on your to-do list. Eventually, you get around to the tasks that are more difficult or tedious to do. So, don’t overthink it. Just make progress on whatever is on your list. You can use Google Keep to create to do lists, so you can see how much progress you make as you cross things off.
7. Set a timer
As you work to figure out how to stop procrastinating, consider using a timer. Having blocks where you can have fun will make work and study more bearable. You can even set a start timer. You might say to yourself, “Okay, for the next hour, I’m going to play video games. Then when the timer goes off, I’ll start my first task.” Sometimes, people need to mentally prepare for work. It’s not as easy, as waking up and feeling gung-ho about working. So, a timer or a schedule that allows you to ease into your day a bit might work best for you. You could even set a timer for relaxation time. For example, you might say, “Okay I’ll study for an hour, then relax for thirty minutes.”
8. Take breaks
So, as we’ve casually hinted at a few times in this article about how to stop procrastinating, taking breaks is a key part of beating procrastination. Often, when we think of work or studying, our minds think about all the time we’ll miss out on fun and leisure. I mean, eight hours a day to spend on work, five days a week is a bit much, especially when you’re self-employed. But finding the motivation to work will require you to take a more balanced approach. If all you do is work for long periods of time, when you finally get a break, you won’t want it to end. Life is all about balance. There’s no need for an overwork or a hustle culture. You can be successful without working hard seven days a week. Life is meant to be spent living, not working. So, take breaks to enjoy life. Go for mindful walks, cook a delicious meal, spend time with friends, or play board games with family. There’s always time to deconnect with work and school and reconnect with people.
9. Use an anti-distraction tool
Anti-distraction tools and software can help you stop procrastinating. For example, the Freedom app blocks social media sites, apps, and sites you’re obsessed with like sports websites. You can even block the whole internet if it’s too distracting for you. If there’s a task that you need to focus on without any distractions at all, there’s a tool out there to block the distractions. While you might not want to block every website, especially if your work requires some research or internet use, you can choose to block the sites that you tend to check. Often, people check the same few websites multiple times sometimes mindlessly. So, block the sites that distract you, so you can stop procrastinating and get to work.
10. Find a good environment to work in
It can be hard to find the best place to focus or work. Everyone has a different preference on which environment works best for them. However, it’s not just about the best environment, it’s also about not overusing that environment. It’s easy to get restless in the same spot. Switching up your work environment to get a small boost of energy can help tremendously. For example, maybe your home office will be a good place to work, most of the time. But every now and then, try working on the couch or on the kitchen table or even in another room with a desk. That way, you don’t start dreading your workspace. You can mix up environments, so you can stay motivated and stop procrastinating.
11. Divide your tasks into chunks
As you learn how to stop procrastinating, try dividing your tasks into chunks or different groups. For example, in Google Keep, you can create multiple to do lists. If you’re a freelancer with multiple clients, you can create a to do list for every client. After you’ve seen all your tasks visually, you can start working on a task at a time. You might group tasks by ease of effort, or by client, or by pay rate. Whatever it is that motivates you, divide your to do list into groups that’ll make you excited to work on them.
12. Work during your peak hours
No one feels motivated to work or study at the same time as everyone else. While 9 to 5 tends to be the structure we’ve been allotted, that doesn’t mean that’s the best time for you to work. Some people might be less likely to procrastinate at night whereas others prefer the morning. Many people like easing into their days, whereas others like finishing everything early so they can have more free time in the evening. How you structure your day is up to you. Often, the people who procrastinate the most, are those without a solid routine, such as students and freelancers. So, instead of trying to live by someone else’s structure, set the hours that work best for you if this is something you can do.
13. Listen to focus music
Whenever you need to put your head down and concentrate on the task at hand, consider playing some focus music. You can listen to a 24/7 Deep Focus Music playlist on YouTube. Or play Hans Zimmer’s Time on repeat on Spotify. You can also listen to soft piano music if you’re looking for something that won’t snap you out of focus. This type of music blends into the background so you can study or work for a longer period of time. If you’re looking for something a bit more zen, meditation music may help you concentrate better so you can stop procrastinating. Avoid listening to music that makes you drowsy or is too upbeat so it doesn’t distract you. Good music can help you get into a flow state so you can concentrate for longer periods.
You can learn how to stop procrastinating once and for all. By listening to focus music, using anti-distraction tools, creating to-do lists and working on easy tasks first, or using a different combination of suggestions from this article, you can focus better so you can stick to the task you want while also building up your energy level to want to work in the first place. Life is all about balance. Do the things you enjoy, but mix it up every now and then by taking breaks or switching up your location. Live to play, laugh, and enjoy people’s companies. Work is part of life but shouldn’t take up the whole thing. By living a balanced life, you can stop procrastinating for good.