Do you ever find yourself putting off a dreaded task for weeks or even months or years? I have been known to procrastinate a 10-minute job for ten years. Thankfully, God is slowly changing me in this area. Here are ten tips I’ve been using to help me stop procrastinating. Hope they help you as well!
10 Tips to Help You Stop Procrastinating
- Find out why you’re procrastinating. When you feel like procrastinating, ask, “Why am I procrastinating?” Sometimes just hearing the answer to that question will help you stop procrastinating. For example, if the answer is “I don’t know how to do it,” then the first step is to ask someone how to do it or watch a YouTube video. When the reason for procrastination is hazy, we can’t find a solution to the problem because we don’t know what the problem is.
- Ask, “What’s the first step?” Often, we procrastinate because we see that huge project all at once the minute we think of it. It seems so overwhelming we don’t want to begin. When we only think of the first step, it seems more manageable and we’ll feel like doing it.
- Break your project into smaller tasks. Sometimes it helps to break the project into little steps before you even start. That way when you ask, “What’s the first step?” you’ll have a ready answer which will make it easier to start. You could even get a project notebook that contains steps for all your projects or use Todoist, Trello, or some other productivity app to create project task lists.
- Set up your project the night before. Sometimes the hardest thing is to just get the job started. It really helps to lay out everything you need the night before. Something about doing that just makes it easier to start the next morning. This could work for making dinner as well. Decide on what you’re having in the morning, take out some of the ingredients, and it will be easier to start the meal later.
- Start with an easy, non-threatening task. Sometimes it helps to do an easy task before you tackle your dreaded task just to get your work motors revved up. For example, you could sweep the kitchen or vacuum the floor or walk the dog around the block. Anything to tell your brain that, “Hey, we’re going into work-mode now.” If you do that, set a time to start your hard work. So for example, you might start sweeping at 7:00 and say, “From 7:30 to 8:30, I’ll work on that difficult project.” This will help you get it into your mind that yes, you are going to work on that dreaded project today!
- Give yourself a pep talk. While you’re doing that easy task, give yourself a pep talk about the hard task. Tell yourself how good it will feel to accomplish it. Tell yourself, “You can do this!” Maybe even picture yourself working cheerfully away at your task. Anything to get you in the mood to do it. When the set time comes to do it, resist the urge to wait “just another five minutes.” Instead, treat it like you’re going to a job outside your home and you have to get there on time!
- Try to make it as fun as possible. While you’re actually doing the job, try to make it as fun as possible. Put on some great music. Get a friend or family member to work alongside you. Or go to the bakery where it is at least a fun atmosphere and you can have a cup of coffee by your side if it’s something you can do at the bakery.
- Take advantage of momentum. Have you ever tried to push a car down the street? It’s hardest at the beginning. But once you get it rolling it doesn’t require that much effort. That’s also true of our most dreaded tasks. The hardest part is to get it rolling. Try to work on it every day but Sunday so you can take advantage of the momentum.
9. Be thankful. Do you ever catch yourself complaining when you’re working on a really hard job? Those negative thoughts sap our energy. Reverse them by being thankful. As you do your job say things like, “Thank you, God, for helping me work on this today. Thank you for what you’ll help me accomplish.”
10. Give yourself a reward for finishing the job. Remember the old days when the teacher would give you a sticker for completing your homework assignment? Rewards can motivate us to work, even if they’re small ones. You could give yourself a small reward for each step of the process if the steps themselves are huge, or just give yourself a reward when you finish the whole project. You could even use those cute little stickers and put them next to the tasks on your project list after you complete them!
It feels great to accomplish a dreaded project. If you have one of those projects hanging around the house or the office, see if some of these tips will help.
Resources Mentioned on the Podcast
- To-Doist App
- Freedom from Procrastination. God used the writing of this book to completely change me in the area of procrastination, and I’m hoping He’ll use it to help you as well. The book contains Bible studies as well as practical tips, project lists, weekly to-do charts, and questions and Bible verses to help you renew your mind when you don’t feel like doing the next thing on your to-do list.
How to Listen to the Podcast
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Discussion: Do you have any other tips for procrastination? Which tips would help you the most?