How to stop procrastinating in five simple steps

Do you put things off and find yourself getting easily distracted? Don’t beat yourself up… beat the procrastination instead by following these five simple steps!

You sit down to finish a piece of work and suddenly remember you need to take the dog for a walk, or halfway through cleaning the bathroom you check your Insta and the rest never gets done. We’ve all been there, but it can be really frustrating to feel as though nothing ever gets finished and you’re always on the back foot. You could always leave that boring task for tomorrow, but tomorrow will bring its own list of duties and distractions. Here’s a guide to overcoming procrastination once and for all!

  1. Work out what you procrastinate about and why. Which tasks do you routinely put off? What do you never end up finishing? What stops you getting things done? Some people try to do five jobs at once and never quite finish any of them, while others sit and daydream for hours rather than starting a new task. Some feel totally overburdened, while others are so afraid of doing a bad job they don’t even attempt it. Try to get to the root cause of your procrastination so you can tackle the deep-rooted issues behind it. If you’re afraid of failure, for example, remind yourself that doing a less than perfect job is better than doing nothing at all, and that once you’ve made a start you’re likely to feel more inspired and motivated, and you still have the ability to make refinements down the line.
  2. Write a detailed to-do list. Think about all the things you need to do today and write them down. All of them! This may feel overwhelming, but it’s easier to tackle the tasks head-on if you know exactly what you’re dealing with. Work out what the absolute priorities are, for example picking the kids up from school or making a doctor’s appointment. Allocate an estimated time for each job, and number them in priority order. Then start working your way through them one by one, ticking them off as you go along. You can even add tasks you’d forgotten to write down but carried out anyway to remind yourself how well you’re doing!
  3. Ditch the distractions. Most of us have a whole load of things that can throw us of course, and some are even things we need to do – just not in the middle of something else! If you’re easily distracted by your phone, the radio, social media notifications, the doorbell, the coffee machine or a good book, keep these things out of sight/sound until the job is done. Most distractions can wait, and it’s much easier to focus on one thing at a time than crowding your mind trying to multitask.
  4. Reward yourself for achievements big and small. You finally managed to fill in that form. Hurrah! Why not treat yourself to something sweet or a power nap? Even small achievements should be celebrated. If you manage to get to the end of your to-do list before the day is out, give yourself an even bigger pat on the back. You could meet a friend for coffee, take a long walk or even book a mini-break if you have the time and budget. If all you ever do is task after task there will be very little joy in life and almost no incentive to keep up the good work.
  5. Keep the momentum going. Don’t let up once you’ve started to overcome the procrastination bug and got yourself into a healthy rhythm. If you can stay on top of everything the pressure will be off and you will feel more motivated. This is especially important when Monday morning rolls around, or after a holiday where your routine has gone out of the window. It’s OK if it takes you a little longer than you’d like to find your stride again, but don’t give up and go back to your old distracted ways where nothing ever got done. Make a non-procrastination pledge and stick it somewhere you will see it often (the fridge is quite handy). Visualise it every time you start thinking about putting something off, and get that tricky task ticked off your to-do list so you can start enjoying your rewards!