HOW TO BEAT PROCRASTINATION AND STAY PRODUCTIVE

Kathrinbody + mind20 Comments

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Procrastination is a common problem nowadays. Especially when you work online as a freelancer, you are faced with many distractions. Social media platforms like Facebook, a distracting environment or a lack of passion for the task let us become procrastinators. If you are one of them and frustrated by it, let me help and inspire you. Here are my top tips to stay productive:

Procrastination is everywhere

I’m confronted almost daily with this problem. Either friends tell me that they lose plenty of time due to procrastination. Or I randomly find Facebook posts from people who don’t know how to remain on track.

That you get easily distracted can have many reasons.

It’s important that you take the time to reflect yourself and your habits to find out what your exact problem is.

Ask yourself the following questions

Are you overwhelmed by your tasks and goals?

Many people feel overwhelmed because they see their crazy long to-do lists and think it’s impossible to finish all. But who said, you have to complete everything in one day?

Break your big tasks and goals down into smaller, manageable pieces and set realistic due dates. Don’t forget to calculate enough time for interruptions (which you can’t control) and breaks throughout the day including meals.

Only focus on the next little steps, don’t think about all the future tasks.

Do you set priorities?

Another common mistake is to have long to-do lists without priorities. Are you aware that there is a difference between “important” and “urgent”? Since I discovered the so-called Eisenhower Box, my work life and productivity improved! How to be More Productive and Eliminate Time Wasting Activities by Using the Eisenhower Box is a must-read article. It helps you to define “important” and “urgent” tasks.

Do you make enough breaks during the day?

If you don’t, you easily lose your focus and energy. Our brains are just not made for working non-stop. There are many studies which prove that the human brain has a limited attention span. And you should not ignore it.

If you implement more breaks, you create free moments in which you can do whatever you want without feeling guilty.

The best technique I can’t live without anymore is called Pomodoro. It helps you to manage time in a smart way, eliminate distractions and avoid burnout. Pomodoro is easy to learn – find out how it works here.

Since I follow Pomodoro, I scroll regularly and happily through Facebook in my little breaks, because I deserve it – haha! I enjoy those mini Facebook moments and I feel no longer guilty. After my five to ten minute breaks – I dive into work again fully focused and motivated.

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Before you work, set priorities and realistic goals

Do you multitask?

Stop now. Don’t do that. Multiple studies show that multitasking damages our brains and destroys productivity.

Do you turn off push notifications or your phone Wifi to not get distracted?

No extra comment needed, right?

Do you have a dedicated workspace?

How does your workspace make you feel? Is it inspiring or rather inviting you to take a nap? Do you work in the sleeping room? That’s a bad idea.

A dedicated workspace, tidy table, and calm environment help you to focus. Find a room where nobody talks to you unexpectedly. If you get interrupted, again and again, you will easily lose motivation and focus on finishing your tasks.

In case you can’t escape people who distract you, use headphones and a motivating or calming music. I like to listen to rain sounds for example.

Do you regularly take a few days off to recharge your batteries?

I know many freelancers who work constantly – up to seven days a week. They think they get things done but sooner or later they lose energy and focus and experience exhaustion. We are no robots, but humans. We need breaks. Regular.

Try a digital detox and feel the difference! Read my article 5 Steps To Master Your Digital Detox.

Are you a perfectionist?

I have to admit, I tend to be one. But I learned to take things easier. For good reasons. I prefer to get things done instead of making myself crazy with too many little details. We lose so much time with perfection. And who cares in the end about it?

It’s all about learning by doing. Give your best, but don’t try to be perfect. Take action and keep moving.

Do you have an accountability buddy?

Working alone and at home can be quite isolating and often it leads to procrastination. For the simple reason that nobody controls us. Don’t get me wrong, I like freedom, but I figured out that an accountability buddy is awesome to stay on track. Have a regular chat, talk about your goals and check out how your buddy is doing during the week. Support along the way makes us feel good and motivated.

Do you need help with your tasks?

Sometimes we want to do it all, but we simply can’t for different reasons. Often it’s a skill that is missing. There are two options to deal with it. Either get help from a professional. Or, simply learn that skill. Don’t just sit there being frustrated.

Share this graphic on Pinterest!

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Procrastination is your enemy – Share these tips on Pinterest!

Are you convinced of your goals?

When we do our best but we just can’t motivate ourselves to work and accomplish anything, it’s time to reflect our goals. Be honest with yourself. If you procrastinate for a long period, it could be that you work on something which is not worth your time and effort.

Goals can change over time. Reflect on them. Adjust them.

Do you visualize your future?

Even so, I recommend to focus on the next small steps and tasks, don’t forget to remind yourself where you want to be in one week, one month and one year.

Our work is helping us to accomplish dreams. See the positive side. Imagine how your finished tasks and projects will make you feel. Imagine how proud you will be. Visualize your success.

Do you celebrate your progress?

We tend to forget about how important it is to be proud of ourselves when we accomplish tasks. Take the time to honor your work. Go and eat an ice cream, meet friends to have a fun time, go shopping or book a massage.

And don’t forget to remind yourself of those rewards while procrastinating!

BONUS TIP

Follow the Two Minute Rule by David Allen. He is the author of the bestselling book Getting Things Done. Get inspired by his interview 1-on-1: David Allen’s Two-Minute Rule to learn more about it and get super productive.

To summarize his two-minute rule quickly: If a task takes lass than two minutes, do it NOW.

Summary

I hope, my article inspires you to take action. Whenever you feel lost, take a few minutes and reflect your behaviour.

Ask yourself regularly if you follow these twelve rules:

1. Reflect your goals
2. Set priorities
3. Make enough breaks (daily and weekly)
4. Don’t multitask
5. Turn of push notifications
6. Create a dedicated workspace
7. Don’t try to be perfect
8. Get an accountability buddy
9. Get professional help
10. Visualize your future
11. Take action – don’t overthink
12. Celebrate your success

Stay productive and balanced, Kathrin

What makes you procrastinating? Do you have other helpful tips to share how to get productive?
Leave a comment below!

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20 Comments on “HOW TO BEAT PROCRASTINATION AND STAY PRODUCTIVE”

  1. Fantastic tips.

    I’m a self-proclaimed Lazy Perfectionist, meaning that if I don’t think I can get something done exactly right, I put off doing it. This is the root of my procrastination. I’ve taken to the Pomodoro Method as well, and it’s really helped me a lot.

    I’ll have to make a note of some of your other suggestions, such as learning the difference between “important” and “urgent”. I tend to start with whatever I don’t hate doing as much, but that leaves all the bad stuff for the end :/

    1. Hi Melissa,
      that’s funny, I never heard of a lazy perfectionist but I know what you mean! I think this is even a problem which many people have. Good that you discovered Pomodoro already, I can’t live without anymore.

      And you’re right, the difference between important and urgent is so essential for productivity. If you don’t learn it then
      you end up overwhelmed daily.

      Thank you for your comment and feedback!
      Have a great productivity 🙂

      Kathrin

  2. Thank you dear Kathrin for this summary. I already knew most of your rules – but as always it is really good to be reminded and yes, I didn’t know about Pomodoro before 🙂 Now I do, and I’ll try. I was thinking this week, while being alone in my 3 person office due to holidays, that I really need to change something in my working habits. So your Newsletter came just in the right moment. And I’ll start after finishing these lines 🙂

    I’ll start with putting my mobile away, back into my bag – not only putting it aside!

    I’ll close all computer programmes which I won’t need for that specific task – avoid distraction!

    I’ll schedule undisturbed working hours. I’ll inform my colleagues about it and ask them to wait until this working hour is finished.

    And did you know, that due to some studies we’re nowadays only able to work focussed and concentrated for 11 minutes? After these 11 minutes, something/someone will distract us from work. This will take 25 minutes until we’ll continue our work… for another 11 minutes and than the vicious circle will start again…

    Let’s break through that circle. It’s up to us and it’s completely and really ok to say:
    I know that I used to react like a Pavlovian dog immediatly to everything and everyone. But as from now I’ll answer due to a schedule. So it might take up to 30 minutes until you’ll hear something from me. Please don’t think that I ignore you. I only try to follow my work more focussed and concentrated. (it’s a quote from here: http://www.businessinsider.de/psychologe-erklrt-den-wichtigsten-tipp-die-konzentrierte-arbeit-2016-5 – only in German)

    1. Thank you for reading my article, Claudia! I have to say, Pomodoro changed my work life a lot. Since then I recommend it to everybody who has trouble with focus and doing enough breaks. It requires a lot of discipline to establish new habits. But when you remind yourself of the positive outcome, it should be motivating to stay on track.

      Your feedback regarding my newsletter is worth gold! Thank you! I always try to inspire as much a I can and give valuable tips. Your new set of goals to get distracted is awesome. That sounds like a successful strategy.

      This 11-minute-cycle is pretty horrifying but reality, yes. Like the person which you were quoting I ignore most of the day messages. Often enough I pay attention on the next day. Otherwise I can’t accomplish everything I wanted to do. And honestly, most of the messages can wait. They are not urgent.

      I’m curious to hear from you how your new strategy will work out!
      Let me know,
      Kathrin

    1. Hi Kate,
      thank you for your compliment! I’m so glad the read was worth your time and helps you to improve your work style!
      Have a great productivity and week 🙂
      Kathrin

    1. Hi Sarah,
      oh, haha, I admit that in the past I was checking my phone too often as well! But I wasn’t really productive – no wonder. I hope you feel highly motivated now. All the best, Kathrin

  3. this is the only blog article i ever need because i’m the absolute worst at being productive and fighting procrastination! thanks for the tips <3

    1. Hi Crystal,
      oh, you make me proud! I’m very happy that this post is useful for you. I wish you a big motivation boost! All the best, Kathrin

  4. This is a great post! I think if I had my own designated work space I’d be much more prepared for the day. Usually I find myself writing up my next blog post hours before it’s due.. doesn’t help that I have two kids either lol.

    1. Hi Courtney,
      thank you for your great feedback! I’m always happy to hear my tips help or at least inspire to take action. Having two kids is for sure a challenge while running a blog. I send you a lot of energy! All the best, Kathrin

    1. Hi Suanlian,
      thank you for reading my post. I love that you feel motivated to change your habits and stop multitasking. Stay productive! All the best, Kathrin

    1. Hi Ivanna,
      thank your for reading and your nice feedback! We all fall easily into the trap, right? But with a bit of discipline, we all can manage so much more! Have a productive time, Kathrin

  5. Procrastination was a major issue for me too, but keep working and focus is the only thing to be productive. 🙂 nice post though , Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Sonali,
      you’re right! Keep working and focus are essential and all you need to do. But exactly this is what seems to be the big challenge for many people. They need to reflect their habits and find solutions how to replace them. Thank you for your attention! Kathrin

  6. I am not a fan of procrastination it drives me insane. I definitely need to be in a workspace where I am not easily distracted and usually that means outside of my home. I love having a schedule keeps me focus on completed what I need to get done.

    1. I agree with you, a workspace where you can focus is so important. I can get easily distracted by other people. You seem to have a good time management method as well. Sounds great!

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