3 ‘Stop Procrastinating’ Tips That Really Work | Jade Jemma

3 ‘Stop Procrastinating’ Tips That Really Work

Have you ever spent the evening scrolling through Facebook when you’ve got a load of invoices that really needed to be sent out 2 days ago?  Or maybe you started a Mrs Hinch style cleaning binge in your house rather than sitting down to schedule your content for tomorrow?  Maybe you even found this blog post because you were searching Google for stop procrastinating tips, rather than getting on with the work you were supposed to be doing!

We’ve all been there – procrastination steals our time and makes us feel guilty.  It impacts our productivity because we pause our work and then spend time worrying about it rather than just getting on with it, and it can affect our confidence in ourselves to get stuff done.  The 3 tips to stop procrastinating below will really help you halt procrastination in its tracks – so you can work on what is important to you instead.

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3 Top Stop Procrastinating Tips

Tip 1 – Crappy first draft

Sometimes getting started is the hardest step. The best tool I would recommend if you are having trouble getting started is the ‘Crappy first draft’ because it lowers the bar by reducing the initial expectation you have of your output. Here is how to do it:

1. Write ‘Crappy First Draft’ at the top of a piece of paper, or open a file and give it that name.

2. Set a timer for 5 minutes and just get started writing things down. You have absolute permission for the end product after 5 minutes NOT to be perfect, you are expecting it to be crappy, and for it just to be a draft, not the finished article.

3. Leave it for a couple of hours and then go back and have a look at what you have done. You will usually find it’s a pretty good start – and now you have got some momentum to build on!

Just getting started is really helpful – your unconscious mind will then help push you to complete it. It’s something called the Ovsiankina effect (named after it’s researcher Maria Ovsiankina) – if you have started a task and not finished it, your unconscious mind prompts you to pick it back up and complete it.

The other benefit is that your unconscious mind will be working on your task in the background even when you are not directly paying attention to it – once you have started a task, you will unconsciously look for opportunities and links back to that task which will likely be beneficial to the final outcome.

How to stop procrastinating and focus tip number two….

Tip 2 – Stop ‘gold plating’

This stop procrastinating tip is useful when you’ve got started on something, but you are putting off finishing it and sharing it with your clients. If you haven’t heard the phrase ‘gold plating,’ it’s when you work on a project or task beyond the point of diminishing returns – you tell yourself it just needs a little tweak here and there, or it needs to be reformatted, or maybe you need to go back and re-do bits of it?

When you notice yourself gold-plating – you need to O.W.N. your tasks: do ‘Only What’s Necessary’. Go back to first principles and ask what is the bare minimum you could do to get to the outcome you need and challenge everything else that your inner perfectionist might want to add! Some great challenge questions when you are O.W.N.ing your tasks are:

  • How much of your time is this task actually worth? Weigh up the effort vs the benefit you will get from completing it. Put a cap on the amount of time you are willing to invest in doing this particular piece of work.
  • Is this task highly important to achieving your long term goals? If not, why are you doing it at all?
  • Do you know whether speed or quality is most important for this task? (Sometimes a quick estimate is much more useful than an accurate answer that takes days). How much detail is actually required for this particular task?
  • Does the customer for the task really need everything you are planning to deliver? How do you know that to be true? Have you tested your approach with the customer to check it’s on the right track? Are you doing more than the customer asked for?
  • Do you know what the most important outcomes are for the task? Stick to doing only the most important outcomes then check if doing just those is enough.
  • Do you have a clear ‘definition of done’ for the task? How will you know when you have finished? Be very clear on this up front before you start the task.
  • Can you delegate all or part of the task? For example, you might be able to outsource the task to a Virtual Assistant or a Tech Assistant who could do it in a fraction of the time because it’s their zone of genius.
  • Are there other resources available to you that could make the task easier or quicker to do? Do a search on the internet – you will usually find that somebody, somewhere has done something similar that you could use as a guide or as inspiration.
  • Are you spending a lot of time on formatting and making it look perfect? Is that necessary, or if it is, could someone else do this?
  • Do you have to repeat this task regularly? Could you set up a system to automate it, or spend some time making it as efficient as possible?
  • Can this task be combined with any other tasks and managed in a batch? Completing similar tasks together is far more efficient than doing things one at a time.
  • Is the task itself absolutely necessary or something that you are doing because it is a ‘pet peeve’ or an interesting area for you? Be honest with yourself on this one – do you really need to do this, or do you want to do it?
  • Are the important parts of this task going to get enough time and attention if you spend time on all the elements you have decided you need to cover?
  • How much time can you afford to spend on this one task given everything else you have to deliver? How important is it in relation to other tasks on your list?
  • Does the task really still need to be done?

    Printing these questions out and keeping them handy when you are working through your task list could teach you how to manage time better and stop procrastinating, saving you hours each week!
    Stop procrastinating tip number 3 coming up…

Printing these questions out and keeping them handy when you are working through your task list could teach you how to manage time better and stop procrastinating, saving you hours each week!
Stop procrastinating tip number 3 coming up…

 

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Tip 3 – What’s stopping you?

The final tip is to really understand why you are procrastinating. Look for patterns in your procrastination – are there certain things that always languish at the bottom of your to-do list? If so, it’s useful to spend some time finding out why you are resisting doing them. Maybe you don’t really see the value in the task, or there is some training you need so you understand how to complete the project you are procrastinating on? Get to the bottom of why you are procrastinating by asking ‘What’s stopping me?’ and getting clear on whether the answers are barriers you can overcome. If you really don’t want to do a task you might be able to outsource or delegate it to someone else. When I looked into my procrastination patterns I found that I always procrastinate on making financial decisions – so I decided to bite the bullet and get a financial advisor to help me manage my money and provide me with expert input on all the decisions I had been putting off.

It may be that you are procrastinating on something related to your business that you believe you should be doing, but don’t actually want to do – if that is the case then just don’t do it! It’s your business after all, and if doing it doesn’t sit right with you then you absolutely get to choose to dump or delegate it! There is so much advice available free on the internet on setting up your own business that you can sometimes get yourself into a panic that you are not doing all the things.

But one of the key benefits of running your own business is that you can absolutely decide which bits of advice you want to listen to and which you will ignore. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to do everything! Deciding to stop procrastinating on a task by crossing that task off your to-do list completely is a victory!

How to Stop Procrastinating Now

So next time you find yourself reading random articles on the internet instead of writing a sales page, or clearing out your sock drawer instead of doing your tax return – try one of these stop procrastination tips to help you get stuff done!

Frances Robertson-Ritchie

About the Author

Sarah Herd is a mum, wife, HR Director and business owner dedicated to helping perfectionists do great (but not perfect!) work so that they can be more productive & successful without sacrificing their wellbeing.

> More blog posts by Sarah Herd

> Her website Mckenzieherd.com