How to Overcome Procrastination and be Productive

do it procrastination
(Photo: iStock) 

With the New Year here, there’s so much we need to do and get done. Productivity is one of the more common resolutions among Americans. However, as we all know, after a few weeks of hitting highs, resolutions don’t always stick and productivity slows down.

Start With Intention

After spending a year of his life performing experiments related to productivity, author Chris Bailey of The Productivity Project, say it all starts with intention. Noting that intention behind your actions is helpful in managing time, attention and energy, Bailey advises to take a step back and prioritize what’s essential. Accomplished through a practice called “The Rule of 3,” this powerful time management technique allows you to decipher key tasks and accomplish three goals by the day’s end.

Get Up Early

Sleeping in is a well-deserved activity. But if you get up earlier, you actually increase your willpower in the battle against procrastination. A 2008 Harvard study uncovered that early risers are more proactive and more likely to use morning time for setting goals, organizing, and planning out their schedules. If you need even more motivation, you're more likely to stick to your workout if you make it happen as soon as you get out of bed.

Make a Plan

After you’ve prioritized what matters most, analyze activities and focus on things that are essential for completion. Create a plan on how you want to accomplish these tasks. An adorable organizer can help you out, and consider "dream boards" or "vision boards" as well. Known as one of the more efficient ways of planning and helping you follow through, vision boards are not only empowering and excellent reminders, but they enhance your thought process for forward focus.

Clean Up

According to productivity researcher Jason Jennings, productivity starts with your environment. Think about your surroundings. Is the house a mess? Is the bed made? Are the kids’ toys lying around in clear view? Looking at a messy house can be overwhelming, stalls output, and leads to procrastination. There’s no motivation when things run amuck. Organized and clean spaces help maintain focus and complete the task. 

Start Small 

Done is far better than perfect. As psychologist Leslie Sherlin explains, repeating that four-letter word can actually help you accomplish more on your to-do list — so, how do you start? Start by doing small things and move to more next-level, challenging tasks. Often, we engage ourselves in the big projects and end up feeling distressed. However, by breaking them down into manageable steps, not only do you reduce anxiety and stress, but there’s actual movement on your goals.

Stop Multitasking

While effective on a general level -- on a moment-to-moment basis, studies report we can only work effectively if we provide a good deal of attention to our goals. As neuroscientist Earl Miller tells NPR, “People can’t multitask very well, and when people say they can, they’re deluding themselves. The brain is very good at deluding itself.”

Consider the Consequences 

Organization is the key to productivity and it’s important if you really want to make something out of yourself. With family, health, career, friends and happiness in mind, consider the consequences of procrastination and what it can do if you aren’t productive. By examining the penalties, you’ll be able to mark the most weighty tasks and rank actions accordingly. Not only can this method eliminate undesirable effects, but it can also influence productivity habits for the better.

Eliminate Distractions

Minor distractions might seem innocent, but studies have shown they put quite a dent in your quest for accomplishment. Did you know one interruption takes an average of 20 minutes to regain focus? That’s precious time lost. We have this idea that everything that buzzes through our phones is important, but it’s not. Minimize distractions by killing instant notifications on your smartphone, closing programs, and apps on your desktop, clearing visual clutter around you, and set ground rules for family and friends. If you’re truly desperate, DIY a “do not disturb” sign and keep it handy.