Effective methods and tools to boost your productivity for a healthier lifestyle
How to stop procrastinating at home, or simply find a way to make your life more productive?
Most of us have the tendency to bite off more than we can chew. The energy we burn NOT doing something is astonishing.
Whether you struggle with initiating or completing household management projects, your clean eating diet or some other more specific tasks, I’ve put together for you a suite of methods, attitudes and tools to defeat procrastination over time.
See it as a gentle but empowering guide for the path from procrastination to high productivity. It will answer your question on “how to stop procrastinating” and it will equip you with concrete strategies to move forward in a wide array of domains.
Five causes of procrastination
Before we can dig deeper into “how to stop procrastinating” we should first look at the five most important causes of this challenging habit. It turns out that, in this case, we are all different. It is important to recognize your unique set of causes and issues to effectively tackle procrastination.
Besides the already mentioned electronic distractions, the following hidden triggers and reasons all add up to sabotaging your best productive instincts. Once you realize this, you will certainly wonder how you let so much time go by without noticing them.
It is said that procrastination is the baby of perfectionism. They go hand in hand. Often, the inflexible mind of the perfectionist falls into procrastination rather than facing the unattainable goals he has set.
You set extremely unrealistic goals, and then brutally criticize yourself when the inevitable failure happens. The scariest part of this is how often you will see this in the world around you.
2) Fear of failure
You don’t need to be a perfectionist to live in fear of failure, self-doubt, and downright ego kicking. Many put off a task just because they are afraid of the consequences, or they don’t have enough information to complete it properly.
Anxiety and stress are real obstacles toward productivity. Just that realization alone makes it worth you staying here and continuing the reading!
3) Paralyzing Hurdles
Often, we procrastinate because we have to jump through a lot of hurdles before we start doing what we actually want to do.
For example, let’s say you want to prepare a healthy vegetable soup. So you need your cutlery, cutting board and pot. But what if those items are still unwashed and scattered over the kitchen countertops from preparing lunch?
There is no way to wash your vegetables – the kitchen sink is crowded too. That means before you can actually start cooking, you need to clean your kitchen first. That’s the moment when you will most likely procrastinate. You make it too hard for yourself to get started.
4) Unfavorable Environment Design
Another hurdle for you may be how your working area is organized. Let’s look again in your kitchen or pantry. If soda is easy available and the healthier choice, bottled water, is not visible, then most people tend to go for the instant solution.
The same is true for processed food if it is placed in front of healthier options. It takes much more willpower to fight your way to vegetables to prepare a healthy meal if fast food is barricading the way to it.
5) You are too optimistic
Do you tend to underestimate the time it will take you to complete a given task? Unexpected occurrences that are likely to come up aren’t taken into account.
For example: your daughter’s violin concert is actually this Friday instead of the following one. Your old school friend drops in out of the blue and wants to get coffee. Smooth weeks with no interruptions are an illusion. The earlier you realize this fact and include time buffers into your planning the better.
“Starting early” actually means “starting in time.” But be aware that with “starting in time” from a realistic point of view, you are actually “starting late.”
How to stop procrastinating
Eight strategies for unleashing your productivity
A major goal is to learn to think and act like a non-procrastinator, or a non-perfectionist (in case you think you are one).
1. Translate frustration into motivation.
Flip your mindset into a positive outlook on life. When I tend to excessively stress over something, I do five minutes of rope skipping just to let off some steam. Doing 20 jumping jacks does the trick too. If you are used to mediation, five minutes of meditating can do wonders too. It clears and sharpens the mind, and it relieves huge amounts of stress. From there, just start getting things done instead of struggling with getting started.
2. Set small weekly goals.
Start small and work your way up! The first step to overcoming an obstacle is to recognize that you have one. You need a simple, doable plan, that you can start working with immediately. Set attainable goals and do the work in steps.
This is something you should be used to now anyway through the 52-week clean eating habits challenge. Each week we will be setting a new small goal rather than making monthly goals. While these goals have to do with the overall idea of better health, you might want to improve other areas too where you find yourself underproductive.
Home improvement comes to my mind.
3. Breaking up big tasks into smaller pieces.
Let’s say you want to organize your pantry.
Focus on breaking the big task of pantry organizing into smaller, more manageable pieces to prevent procrastination. Tackle at least one of these tasks and check it off your list. If it still seems too overwhelming, break it into smaller parts. At the end of the week, take your calendar and schedule any remaining tasks.
4. Get help from others.
Everything is easier with the support of those around you. If you don’t have the time or energy to do it yourself, delegate. Ask family members or seek out mentors.
Often, making a positive change in your life is a team effort. When you know that someone else is accountable for your actions, you often develop a strong conviction. As you don’t want to lose face in front of those you care about, it drives you instead to exceed expectations.
5. Turn off electronics.
This includes smartphones, tablets, computers and TVs. For me, as someone who is working full time on the web, this is the hardest part. But I’m getting better…
The temptation to “just quickly check” something on my computer is often too great to combat, and within what feels like the blink of an eye, a whole hour of precious time has slipped away. Resist this temptation by consciously planning technology-free times for household management each day.
6. Clear to neutral to avoid hurdles.
Any time you finish your activity, for example, cooking, do a little routine that helps the future, like washing your dishes right away and cleaning the kitchen, so that the next time you start there are no hurdles.
The process of cleaning the kitchen is very important. It ensures the kitchen will be more inviting for preparing healthy meals, and you prevent any bacteria from growing.
7. Optimize environment design.
Make sure that your surroundings are organized in a way that clean food is in more visible spots around your kitchen, in your refrigerator or your freezer.
The same is true for your pantry. Hide sodas, treats, and other unhealthy choices down on the lower shelves or areas. That way, even when your willpower is fading, you make it more likely to grab healthy foods and beverages.
8. Give yourself a break.
Like all things in life, it’s about balance. Don’t get so caught up in your to-do list that you forget to take each moment as it comes. Over-regulating your life by attempting to switch every ”non-productive“ moment into something productive can be just as unhealthy as excessive procrastination.
A lot of things in life happen at lightning speed and you can’t do anything about it. A few relaxing moments each day can help you better understand the world.
How to stop procrastinating with 3 tools
Choose these procrastination-busting tools to approach your aspirations effectively.
1. Set the timer.
The timer is your friend mostly because it changes your perception of time. Like you might have done in our baby step challenge, setting the timer is the best way to motivate yourself to limit your time wasting activities.
When you know that you are working against the clock, you can usually focus and get a lot done during that time.
2. Use a planner/calendar.
Organize a simple planner or calendar for yourself without bells and whistles, or use an electronic planner. To stop procrastination, there are only two actions that are important:
1) When you decide to do something, immediately write it down in your planner on the day you intend to do it.
2) For an effective time management, open up your planner each morning.
I use a planner each day because it helps me stay focused in spite of the billion distractions I encounter each day. Whenever something comes up, I write it down and no longer feel like I have a million things to remember taking up space in my head.
3. Idea Book.
If you are creative type like me, then new ideas and inspirations pop up regularly in your head. Those sparks are not urgent enough to be done immediately and not important enough to be noted in your planner. And, yet, these ideas are too precious to let go.
Instead, write them down into a big idea book, set a date and forget about them. This is so relieving. In times when you think you are stuck, they are a great reminder and inspiration. Some ideas you will never put into practice, and this is ok…others you will tackle as soon as the right moment arrives.
Bottom line: This procrastination help is not a quick fix, but, rather, it is a life lesson in how to empower yourself step-by-step and how to keep from falling off and giving up.
Be realistic – not grandiose – in your thinking of “how to stop procrastinating”. Each day, find a way to make your days happier.
How to stop procrastinating – what is your approach?
Do you have any additional tips on how to stop procrastinating or any questions? I would love to read them from you. Share them with us in the comment section below!