How to Make Procrastination a Thing of the Past

Procrastination: everyone does it. It’s natural to put off work for something more fun instead, or avoid doing an unpleasant chore. But in the end, procrastinating just makes you more stressed out. I hear a lot of people say that they want to stop procrastinating but don’t know how, so here’s a few small changes to get you started on a procrastination-free lifestyle.

Two Minutes? Do It Now

I first heard about this tip a year ago, and I think it’s really helpful. Will the task you don’t want to do right now take two minutes or less? If the answer is yes, do it immediately, no excuses. Little chores accumulate and build into bigger chores that take a much longer time to handle. For example: after eating, don’t dump your dirty plate in the sink, just take the extra minute to wash it. If you wash everything right after you use it, you won’t end up with the dreaded mound of dirty dishes that looks gross and can take forever to clean. Other two minute tasks include: taking out the trash, washing your face before bed (especially important if you wear makeup!), putting things back where they belong instead of leaving them on the counter, throwing your clothes in the hamper instead of on the floor, doing a quick sweep of your room with the vacuum, making your bed in the morning, folding any errant sweaters, and texting someone back.

Make a To-Do List

This is my favorite way to bust procrastination. Every night I sit down and make a to-do list for the next day. I use a day planner with an eight-item to-do list included (you can get one on Amazon for $15) but you can make your own using anything: a pad of paper, the notes on your phone, your calendar, print out a to-do list template or download an app. It’s a lot harder to procrastinate when you have everything planned out and you’ve already decided to get it done that day. A to-do list made ahead of time also ensures that you don’t forget anything important in the rush of the day. I find it extremely rewarding to check off each task as I finish it! At the end of the day, it’s really satisfying to be able to look at a physical reminder of everything you accomplished. You can give yourself extra incentives to finish everything on your list each day such as resolving not to watch TV until everything is checked off.

What Does Procrastination Cost You?

I just recently read about a perspective on procrastination in a Reddit thread and it really hit a chord with me (unfortunately I cannot locate the comment anymore). Basically, someone said that they realized how much time they were spending thinking about unpleasant things that they did not want to have to do. If there was a phone call they had to make, they might spend six hours of their day trying not to think about it while procrastinating before finally just making the call, which would be over in ten minutes. Instead of spending ten minutes just doing the distasteful task, they spent six hours dreading and avoiding it instead… and still had to do it anyway. Their advice was to just rip off the band-aid and do it now. Don’t spend your whole day thinking about how horrible it’s going to be when you finally tackle the mound of dirty laundry or study for a difficult test, just get it over with so you can do something fun without all the guilt. Giving yourself anxiety and bad feelings isn’t productive and in the end you still have to do the thing you were avoiding.

Procrastination isn’t a fun feeling, though unfortunately most of us have experienced it. It can be really difficult to stop procrastinating when it’s become a habit, and lots of people don’t even know where to start. Hopefully these tips can help you begin your journey to a procrastination-free life. Just think of how productive you’ll be!