There’s a very good chance you’re reading this article to avoid doing your work. And that’s okay, I’ll let you off since the tips I’m about to share below will get you back on track!
I know how hard it can be to get things done when you’re a serial procrastinator (I too have struggled with this in the past).
So, I’ve put together what worked for me and will hopefully help you too! Here’s the ultimate guide to overcoming procrastination and achieving your goals.
1) Set clear goals
The very first thing you need to do to overcome procrastination and achieve your goals is to get clear on what they actually are!
Rather than being vague with statements such as:
“In 10 years I want to be rich.”
“I’m going to start eating healthier.”
You need to hone in on what you really want to achieve. By getting specific, it’ll be easier to create a plan of action and work towards these goals. So, using the examples above, specific goals would look like this:
“Each month/year I want to save X amount so in 10 years I have [insert desired number here] saved up”
“I’m going to eat healthier by cutting out my weekly fast food takeaway. My goal is to lose X amount of weight a month”
Once you’ve got your goals clear and written down somewhere, it’s time to move on to the next point:
2) Prioritize your tasks
Now you know what you’re working towards, you can start prioritizing your tasks.
If you’re starting a small business, for example, rather than focussing on unnecessary details like buying high-end equipment, first you should determine whether there’s a market for your business – before you go and shell out tons of money!
This is a priority task, something that’ll help you determine your next steps.
You see, most of us want to tackle the fun stuff first, the bits we’re really interested in.
But in doing this, we can overlook the foundations of a task. These parts are usually boring and laborious, but often make the difference between success and failure!
So underneath your written goals, now it’s time to list your tasks in order of priority, remembering that your life will be much easier down the line if you get the harder tasks out of the way first!
3) Create a schedule
Now, you’ve got your tasks listed in order of priority, so the next step is to create a schedule.
The truth is, there are tons of free downloadable schedules online that you can edit and adjust to suit your lifestyle and routine.
But one piece of advice that works great for me is to start each day with the three most important tasks you need to accomplish.
Well, you have more energy and time to get them done earlier in the day, leaving room in the afternoon to tackle smaller, easier tasks when you might be slowing down in energy and concentration.
Alternatively, you could divide your week up by spending four days on important, difficult tasks and then using the fifth day to get around to all the easy, smaller tasks!
The point is:
It’s completely up to you how you schedule your days and weeks.
But to overcome procrastination and achieve your goals, you do need to have some sort of routine in place – this will keep you focused and will make it easier to track your progress!
4) Remove distractions
I know how tempting the short reels on Youtube are, or fitting in one more episode of your favorite Netflix series before you start work, or playing with your dog or texting your best friend…
As you can see, there’s no shortage of distractions (and it gets worse if you work from home)!
So, if you want to truly overcome procrastination and achieve your goals, you MUST remove distractions.
I know you think willpower will be enough, but trust me, most of us are easily distracted and we need to physically shut ourselves away to get work done!
- Leaving your phone in another room until you’ve completed your most important tasks
- Setting limits on how long you can go on social media
- Closing your office door so people are less likely to stop by for a chat
- Scheduling “play time” so you can get your Netflix, Youtube, and pet fix at a time when it won’t impact your work
5) Break down large tasks
Want to know a secret?
The larger the task, the more overwhelming it can be. And when something feels overwhelming, it leads to procrastination!
It’s not that you intentionally don’t want to get things done. It could be that you simply don’t know where to start.
So, if you’ve got big tasks to tackle, break them down. As Desmond Tutu famously once said, “There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.”
Let me give you an example:
Your mission for the weekend is to clear out the garage. It’s full of junk and you’ve no idea where to begin.
Break the task down by identifying what needs to be done – some things will be kept, other stuff will be rubbish, and a final pile will be needed to take to the charity shop.
Now you’ve got the task broken down, choose one area to begin with.
Start with one pile, perhaps the rubbish so you can clear space, then move on to the next. Before you know it, you’ll be making progress and will be a lot closer to achieving your goal!
6) Try the Pomodoro technique
Now, in addition to the above, you might find that setting yourself a timer to achieve your tasks helps keep you focused and less prone to procrastinate.
One such technique which encourages this is the Pomodoro technique. Revolution Learning has listed the 6 key steps:
- Identify a task or tasks that you need to complete
- Set a timer for 25 minutes
- Work on a task with no distractions
- When the alarm sounds, take a 5-minute break
- Repeat the process 3 more times
- Take a longer 30-minute break and start again
The science behind it points to the fact that when we spend long periods of time concentrating, we can actually lose track of time, and in the end? We achieve less.
But, if we work in shorter bursts and allow for plenty of short breaks, not only can we be more efficient with our time, but we get more done in shorter bursts of energy!
7) Give yourself little rewards
It’s time for the fun part – when overcoming procrastination and achieving your goals, it’s important to treat yourself!
And this can vary massively – when completing smaller, insignificant tasks, you might reward yourself by spending 5 minutes playing with your pets or eating your favorite snack.
When completing bigger, important tasks or hitting those milestones, you might treat yourself to a weekend away, a nice dinner out, or a bit of retail therapy!
The truth is, when we have something to look forward to, it makes the hard work seem worth it. We may not be hitting our end goal straight away, but these little rewards keep us motivated and focused on the journey!
8) Practice self-care
All of the above sounds like a good plan, right?
Well, not if you don’t add self-care into the mix!
I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly not my most productive if I’m:
- Run down
And that’s why looking after yourself is just as important as the other steps I’ve listed.
The bottom line is, when you’re well-fed, rested, and relaxed, you’re more likely to concentrate and get more done.
If you’re exhausted with low energy levels, getting those small tasks done every day will likely take a back seat. Before you know it, they’ve built up and it feels like an impossible mission to accomplish.
So, if there’s one thing you do today, it should be to prioritize your mental and physical well-being. Know that by doing so, you’ll be one step closer to overcoming procrastination and smashing your goals!
9) Get support
“It takes a village to raise a child,” I say it also takes a village to help people achieve their dreams!
Especially if you have a problem with procrastination – you need the support of those around you.
That’s why you should seek friends who encourage you to work hard and will respect your boundaries; not friends who regularly pressure you to ditch work and hang out.
These friends are not looking out for you or your future!
The same goes for your immediate household, whether that’s your family or a partner, get them on board!
Let them know you want to focus more on achieving your goals, and that their support in not distracting you, or in picking up some of the slack around the house, would go a long way in helping.
For example, my partner and I switched up our routine to allow me to work in the evenings since I find I concentrate best then – he cooks dinner so I can utilize that extra time. It’s all about finding what works best for you and your household.
10) Start now
This wouldn’t be an ultimate guide to overcoming procrastination if I didn’t tell you…
It’s time to get off Google and get going!
The reality is:
You could waste the next hour reading more articles on how to stop procrastinating, or you could put the points above into action starting right now (and tick off your first task instead).
Ultimately, you just need to start.
It doesn’t matter how organized you are, if you’ve completed your schedule to perfection, if you’ve color-coded your priority list, just get going.
Don’t waste time trying to make things look pretty – keep your end goal in sight.
In fact, you could do what I did; I’ve drawn out my goals and stuck them on the wall in front of my desk. Whenever I’m tempted to look at my phone or scroll through social media, I’m reminded of what is at stake!
There’s no denying that procrastination can seriously affect how we achieve our goals – it slows us down and can become a vicious cycle if not kept under control.
But with that being said, the steps above are simple and easy to put into action. They just require sticking to consistently, and with time, you’ll notice just how much more productive you’ve become. Good luck!