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Productive Procrastination: How to Get Things Done by Putting Off Other Things

Take a Walk or Exercise

Any kind of exercise works. 

Use the time that you're stuck to get up and do something physical for a bit. It's good for you, and research shows that regular physical activity can also help with your cognition.

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Productive Procrastination: How to Get Things Done by Putting Off Other Things

Productive Procrastination: How to Get Things Done by Putting Off Other Things

https://zapier.com/blog/productive-procrastination/

zapier.com

6

Key Ideas

Plan the Rest of Your Day

When you don't feel like working on your tasks, take a few moments to plan your day.

Even if you do it as a form of procrastination, to postpone doing the actual work, it will help you by keeping you on track for the rest of the day.

Smaller Manageable Parts

Break the project you don't want to start into smaller pieces.

Breaking it down into small tasks and adding those to your to-do list isn't exactly fun, but it is less overwhelming than working. And it's also useful: When you finally do get around to starting, you've got a strategy.

Clean Something

Clean something every time you don't want to get started on a work project. Don't listen to a podcast or turn on the radio. Just clean. Make it as boring as possible, so that your mind wanders.

This does two things: it delays actually working on your project and it gives you time to think, possibly generating ideas that will come in handy whenever you get back to the project you're trying to put off. 

Tackle the Simplest Tasks

Every job involves at least a few simple tasks that don't require your full attention, and these make for great productive procrastination.

The best tasks for this have a few things in common: They need to get done, they don't require a lot of focus, and they're different enough from your main project that they feel like a break.

Take a Walk or Exercise

Any kind of exercise works. 

Use the time that you're stuck to get up and do something physical for a bit. It's good for you, and research shows that regular physical activity can also help with your cognition.

Talk to Your Co-Workers

Reach out to your co-workers when you're stuck.

Catch up with your co-workers. See what they're working on. You'll learn something, feel better connected with the people around you, and maybe even find a little bit of inspiration.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Procrastination has a price. It's related to:
  • Depression
  • Irrational beliefs
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
Willpower Doesn’t Work. Systems Do.

People shy away from routines, systems and frameworks because they want to have “freedom.” But in order to get things done, you need rules.

To get things done, research found effective:
  • Self-imposed deadlines.
  • Accountability systems (commitment with friends, or a coach).
  • Working/studying in intervals.
  • Exercising 30 minutes a day.
  • A healthy diet.
  • Eliminating distractions.
  • And most importantly: Internal motivation.
Precrastination

This is the compulsion to immediately work on new tasks, despite long-term costs and tradeoffs.

While the procrastinator delays important tasks too long, the precrastinator...

Precrastination

This is the compulsion to immediately work on new tasks, despite long-term costs and tradeoffs.

While the procrastinator delays important tasks too long, the precrastinator doesn’t delay unimportant tasks long enough.

What causes precrastination

The ultimate cause of precrastination is short-term, emotionally-driven decision-making.

Just like in procrastination, precrastination involves making a decision based on what feels good in the moment rather than what’s in our long-term best interest.

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Procrastination is not an identity

Procrastination is something you do, not someone you are. When you stop making procrastination part of your identity, you free yourself up to change.

Don't judge yourself for how you f...

Clarify

Figure out why you avoid taking action. Find out all the reasons that prevent you from moving forward. 

For example:

  • You find the task challenging.
  • You don’t know how to do the project.
  • The activity is boring.
  • You don’t have a clear block of time to work on the task.

  • You need a quiet workspace.

  • You expect your work to be perfect—and fear it won’t be.

  • You don’t have a deadline.

Address the issues

Once you understand the reasons for procrastination, address those specific issues. 

Keep on dealing with the issues one by one. This will build momentum and move you toward completing your projects.

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Think About It

Acting without first reflecting can make things worse. Regularly reviewing how you spend your time will give you insight into how you got to your present state, how to move forward strategically...

Manage Your Inbox

Knowing your inbox isn’t overflowing can save you a lot of mental stress, which helps you focus on more important tasks. You can reduce your message by:

  • Unsubscribe from promotional and notification emails.
  • Use filters to sort nonessential email into specified sections of your inbox, so they don’t show up every time you log in.
  • Use programs to schedule emails and send reminders, so you can deal with emails on your own time. 
Have a “Mental Junk Drawer”

Dump your ideas, notes, lists, and saved articles that don’t have another home into a digital document. This clears some mental space—without adding papers and notebooks to your actual junk drawer.

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Procrastination as a coping mechanism

People tend to procrastinate to avoid emotionally unpleasant tasks - so they choose to focus on something that provides a temporary mood boost.

This creates a vicious cycl...

The science behind getting started

Progress on our goals feeds our well-being. So the most important thing to do is bootstrap a little progress: get a little progress, and that’s going to fuel your well-being and your motivation.

Implementation intentions for better focus

This is a self-regulatory strategy in the form of an "if-then plan": "If the phone rings, then I’m not going to answer it." "If my friends call me to say we’re going out, I’m going to say no." So you’ve already made these pre-commitments.

Our perception of time is subjective

How long an hour, a week, or a year feels is something that changes all the time.

For example, an hour spent coping with tragic news can be perceived as very slow, while an hour of frantic...

Why early years seem longer
  • As we become adults, we tend to take on more time commitments. As our work and domestic lives stabilize, the years increasingly resemble each other. This creates the sense that less “living” happens each year.
  • Children usually have no time commitments; they're told what to do. They also form higher-quality memories (sharper and more lasting), making early years seem so full.
Being present in the moment
  • As adults, we spend much of the time on autopilot, with most of our attention on past, future, or hypothetical moments.
  • As children we’re immersed in present moment, which creates long, vivid days, with many more touchpoints for memory and appreciation.

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Let it Go

Interruptions can be frustrating. But, the point here is that not all of them are worthy of addressing.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do when faced with an interruption is nothing at all,...

Set Expectations From The Beginning

Whether you’re speaking up in a team meeting or you’re conducting a presentation, it’s important to be clear that you'll need to get all of your ideas out there before opening the floor to questions and contributions. 

This sets the tone right from the get-go that you’re aiming to share your ideas free of interruptions. This also makes it easy to halt an interrupter in his tracks.

Keep Going

Sometimes you can only fight fire with fire.

Refuse to pause for interruptions, and instead continue moving forward with your ideas. If needed, you can even pause for a second to address the interrupter and say, “one moment,” and then finish off your thought.

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Brian Tracy

Time management is not a peripheral activity or skill. It is the core skill upon which everything else in life de..."

Brian Tracy
Work Around Your Energy Levels

Productivity is directly related to your energy level.

Find your most productive hours — the time of your peak energy — and schedule Deep Work for those periods. Do low-value and low-energy tasks (also known as shallow work), such as responding to emails or unimportant meetings, in between those hours.

Plan Your Day the Night Before

Before going to bed, spend 5 minutes writing your to-do list for the next day. These tasks should help you move towards your professional and personal goals.

You’ll be better prepared mentally for the challenges ahead before waking up and there won’t be any room for procrastination in the morning. As a result, you’ll work faster and smoother than ever before.

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Procrastinating and emotions

According to traditional thinking, procrastinators have a time-management problem. They are unable to understand how long a task will take and need to learn how to schedule their time better.

Short-term mood lifters

Studies show low mood only increases procrastination if enjoyable activities are available as a distraction. In other words, we're drawn to other activities to avoid the discomfort of applying ourselves.

Adverse consequences

Procrastination leads to two primary consequences.

  1. It's stressful to keep putting off important tasks and failing to meet your goals.
  2. Procrastination often involves delaying important health behaviors, such as taking up exercise or visiting a doctor.

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Procrastination is an emotion management problem
Happens when we feel uncomfortable (anxiety, overwhelm ) toward a task. We want to do it, but end up doing something else that feels better.  We run away from our negative thoughts and emoti...
The #1 skill to overcome procrastination

Facing a task, experiencing the uncomfortable emotions associated with it and doing the task despite those  emotions.

Our mind is a reason-giving machine

It rationalizes the shit out of anything that’s just a little bit uncomfortable and create excuses as to why we shouldn’t do something now. Those excuses are irrational, but sound superficially reasonable. 

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