8 Simple Ways to Stop Procrastinating

by Sean Bryant on August 23, 2012

Procrastination is one of the single biggest things that hold most people back in their every day life. Procrastination can come in the form of not wanting to complete that unbearable task around the house or just getting yourself ready for an upcoming exam in school.

Don’t get me wrong there are certainly good outcomes when it comes to procrastination. If you found yourself putting off the process of buying a house in 2008 or 2009, you likely saved yourself the pain of buying at the peak of home prices.

However, in most situations procrastination is probably not one of your finest traits. If you struggle to finish some of your every day responsibilities then follow these eight steps to a more productive life.

1. Make a To-Do List – The easiest way to push yourself to complete tasks that need to be done is to make yourself a list. I am a huge fan of making lists, but I will admit that they are not always effective for me. For a to-do list to be most effective, you need to complete it top-to-bottom. Too many times I find myself skipping over items to do something else or I add items to the top and neglect the others. Start with the first item on your list and work straight down, even if you get to something you don’t want to do.

2.  Complete The Most Dreaded Tasks First – Each of us have a handful of things that we really dread having to do. For me it’s going to the dentist. For others, it might be a job at work that they dislike. Make these items the first things that you complete. By giving these a priority it will give you a sense of gratification and make the rest of your to-do list much easier.

3.  Set Deadlines – If you are anything like me you work much better when under pressure. By setting deadlines for items that you have on a t0-do list it will give you something to work towards. It takes away the ability to say, ” I will do this tomorrow.”

4.  Reward Yourself – Working towards a special incentive can be key for a lot of things in life. If you are going to starting working on an item on your to-do list give yourself a reward when you finish. As soon as I finish writing this article, I am going to reward myself with a couple pieces of chocolate.

5.  Take Away Distractions – One of this biggest reasons why it takes most of us longer than it should to get things done is because of distractions. You could have a co-worker who asks for your help on something or you could just get distracted by your kids at home. Make sure you set aside time to devote solely to your task. This disruption-free time will allow you to finish much more efficiently.

6.  Break Down Projects – Try turning larger projects into a bunch of small tasks. This will help maintain focus and reduce distractions. When you complete each task you can reward yourself or just take some time to do something fun.

A good example of this is getting yourself ready for a garage sale. Instead of sitting down and doing everything at once break it down. First, you can get everything out that you want to sell. Next, you can add prices to each item. Lastly, you can set up the garage or yard with everything in preparation for the sale.

7.  Hire it Done  – Running my own business involves having a lot of different tasks. A lot of them are fun, but some are far from it. That’s when I turn to the awesome group of freelancers who help me out. If you can’t stand doing your taxes each year, hire a CPA. If mowing your lawn just isn’t your thing, then hire a lawn service. Before hiring for these tasks, make sure the time/value of the expense is totally worth it.

8.  Tell Yourself to “Just Do It” – I will be the first to admit that there are days that I really don’t have a lot of motivation. It’s usually those days that I have the most on my plate to complete. If you have a lazy moments that you want to tell yourself, “I can just take care of it tomorrow,”  you need to push through the feeling and just do it. The feeling that you accomplished something will be much nicer than the feeling tomorrow that you still have the task to finish.

Does anyone have any other tips to stop procrastination?

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Sean Bryant

Sean Bryant created OneSmartDollar.com in 2011 to help pass along his knowledge of finance and economics to others. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in economics he worked as a construction superintendent before jumping into the world of finance. Sean has worked on the trade desk for a commodities brokerage firm, he was a project manager for an investment research company and was a CDO analyst at a big bank. That being said he brings a good understanding of the finance field to the One Smart Dollar community. When not working Sean and he wife are avid world travelers. He enjoys spending time with his daughter Colette and dog Charlie.
  • That list is so adorable!! I used to be really good at making lists. I need to get back into writing my tomorrow’s to-do list the night before on my kindle when I first lie down for bed. For a while, I was doing this and it was working great! I used it as a schedule the next day and pretended the list was my BOSS. Okay, Boss…what’s next? 🙂

  • I like #’s 1 & 2 the ones you dread the most need to be finished first. When I am working on the computer I use teuxdeux.com. It’s a digital list and you get to mark things off-great for keeping the desktop clean!

  • AverageJoe

    I also think about “just starting” the task. Generally I find that once I’ve gotten rolling the procrastination slides away and I get the train on track. Great tips!

  • I’m such a big procrastinator, things are always getting done at the last minute with me. Thanks for sharing all these tips, maybe I’ll try some of them out…eventually. LOL. 🙂

  • I use a ‘to-do’ list myself. I separate everything into two columns. The left side are the important things that I need to get done while the right side are things that aren’t a top priority. I make it point to focus on the left side before tackling the right.

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