5 Ways to Stop Procrastinating

I occasionally find myself putting off some task that I really need to accomplish. Often the task relates to housecleaning, though sometimes it relates to budgeting, yard work, or home maintenance. I’m a little embarrassed to say that sometimes days, weeks, or even months will pass before I finally buckle down and complete it. Does this ever happen to you?

Procrastination hampers our productivity and increases our stress. Thankfully, a number of easy strategies can help us stop procrastinating.

What I’ve just described is the common phenomenon of procrastination—when we put off or delay doing something because we don’t want to do it. Procrastination hampers our productivity, increases our stress, and often signals to us that we are struggling with laziness. Thankfully, a number of easy strategies can help us stop procrastinating.

Tips for overcoming procrastination

  • Call it what it is. Rather than face the reality that we are putting off important work, we often come up with a lot of excuses as to why we’re avoiding it. I’m too busy. I’m too stressed out. I’ve done enough work today already. It’s my husband’s turn. I’m not creative enough. I’m too inexperienced. Acknowledging that we’re procrastinating instead of justifying our inaction helps us put these excuses in their place so we can begin to work hard to complete the important tasks before us.
  • Break each task into small pieces and assign a deadline to each piece. It’s easy to keep pushing the small pieces of a large task back when the deadline for the task is far away. On the other hand, we feel a sense of urgency and make progress when we’re faced with periodic deadlines for the small pieces that comprise a larger task.
  • Eliminate physical and mental clutter. Whether it is having too many tabs open in our internet browsers or having papers strewn across our desks, clutter beckons us to take our eyes off of the important tasks we need to accomplish. If we take a little bit of time to eliminate clutter, then we’re often able to focus more easily and be more productive.
  • Learn to use to-do lists effectively. To-do lists can help us gain a comprehensive understanding of all we need to complete. Unfortunately, simply making these lists doesn’t mean we’ll get anything accomplished. In order to get the most out of to-do lists, we must learn to make them quickly, prioritize their contents, and focus on completing one task at a time. Click here to read additional tips on using to-do lists effectively.
  • Get accountability. Sometimes we just need the support, encouragement, and accountability that another person can provide. We can share about the areas in which we’ve been procrastinating and ask a trusted friend or family member to ask us about our progress in overcoming this procrastination. Knowing that we’ll have to give a report on our progress is a powerful motivator!

These are all useful strategies, but perhaps the single most important thing we can do is to keep in mind that we’re not just completing tasks for ourselves, our families, or an employer. We’re completing them for the Lord.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for man.” Colossians 3:23

When we work at our tasks with all of our hearts, there’s no room for procrastination!

In recent weeks, I’ve benefited most from this last strategy and from assigning deadlines to the small pieces of larger tasks. Do you ever struggle with procrastination? What things do you do to overcome it?

Shared at the following:

Grace and Truth, The Art of Homemaking, and Making Your Home Sing.

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Comments

  1. I like your tips!
    I am a to do list kinda gal and it really helps me!
    Thanks
    Michelle

  2. Very good suggestions as they are practical. I have found clutter to be the biggest deterrent in my life. Not that we save much, but two weeks ago, I began to sort through and throw things out. There are no words to even describe how wonderful it felt – lighter even – once I saw the progress. Thank you for confirming to me that I was on the right track when I started!

    • It does lift a weight, doesn’t it, Joanne? Clutter is an ongoing battle around here, but it’s worth it to address the issue because it does have such an impact on our productivity.

  3. Great practical advice! Decluttering is a big one for me; I just can’t focus when my space is cluttered. But perhaps the biggest help is changing my motivation – the reason I’m doing it or rather Who I’m doing it for. Just need to keep my focus there, as it is an unending struggle. Thanks for the encouragement to keep moving in the right direction.

  4. I think i need a mental decluttering. I actually was so good at keeping schedules and dates in my mind, but it started to be so cluttered, with all my kids doctors appointments, soccer games, school activities, that i was missing things. So i did start writing in a planner which is helping a little, but just need to get used to using it! thank you for these tips, visiting you from Grace and Truth Link Up.

    • Hi Sue,
      Great insight into the impact of mental clutter. Personally, I find a planner to be helpful. I hope you get in the grove of using yours!

  5. Oh, the clutter gets me every time!! I’ve started keeping a small notebook in my purse, on my nightstand, by my desk, so I can brain dump anything distracting me. That has been such a saving grace for me. Great tips here!

    • Hi Krystal,
      That’s a great idea! I need to do that (or perhaps utilize a notebook app on my smartphone that accomplishes the same thing). Thanks for giving us this suggestion!

  6. Shannon,

    I have to work at this all the time. I live by a to-do list, but I needed that reminder to break things into smaller tasks. I tend to wait until I have time for the whole project and that’s not usually helpful. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Donna,
      It’s definitely not helpful to me to try to complete things all at once. Smaller tasks are more doable with young kids in the house! 🙂

  7. These are all great ideas! I think it’s good that you point out decluttering-often, I’ve found it really easy to have 5+ internet browsers open as I try to get things done, but that makes it harder to focus and easier to procrastinate. Just the other day, I started trying to hold myself in check and only have a couple browsers open at a time so I can fully complete tasks before moving on to the next one.

    Something that has been really helpful to me, in light of my procrastination tendencies, is to keep a bullet journal. I just started it a few weeks ago, but it has been very good-I like being able to look at my month (or year) at a glance and schedule tasks or events; there’s something about writing tasks in my journal that makes me feel more accountability than just jotting it down on a scrap of paper or thinking about it.

    • Hi AnneMarie,
      I hear people talk about bullet journals, but I’m not all that familiar with them. I’ll have to take a closer look!

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