- ⭐ Motivation
- 🗓️ Plan Out Your Days
- 📋 Writing To-Do Lists
- 📅 My Method
- ⌚ Rules to Plan By
- 🍅 The Pomodoro Technique
- ✅ Start with Uncompleted Tasks
- ⌛ The One Year Rule
- 🤔 Closing Thoughts
Should I start writing this post? Maybe I’ll get it done later. I think it’s priceless that while starting to write this I actually procrastinated doing it. It wasn’t that bad but it was more than I usually deal with.
Procrastination is no joke. It’s a real problem all of us have dealt with at some point in our lives. In this post, you will find the solutions you have been looking for in order to tackle this issue head-on.
One of the key factors to success is having the motivation to tackle the work in front of you. This goes hand in hand with beating procrastination and is vital to getting your work done.
My suggestions for motivation are spoken about more in-depth in my article The Secret Behind Motivation, but I’ll talk on some of the main points here so you understand the gist of it.
Overall, you need to be motivated by something that is greater than yourself and you are passionate about. This will lead you to something called pull motivation. Pull motivation is the kind of feeling you get when you are so absolutely drawn to something that you just can’t help yourself from going after it.
While most of the time pull motivation is found from vices, you should utilize this psychological knowledge to build goals that are constantly pulling yours towards the end. For me, the thought of Rise Productive being successful pull motivates me through the thoughts of it improving not only my life but everyone that its content reaches.
Even if it seems like a tedious task, you should use this type of thought process to tackle the day-to-day grind with purpose. That purpose will pull you through anything that is causing you to feel lazy or procrastinate on your to-do’s for the day.
🗓️ Plan Out Your Days
Speaking of to-do’s… do you plan out your days? I’m sorry if I made the assumption that you did just now but if you don’t then you should.
Let me ask you a simple logic question. If you were told you had a task to complete and were given no name, explanation or timeline on how to do it, then how could you ever finish it? You would mindlessly wander guessing on what it is you need to do.
Most likely, it would never get done. This is the same confusion and lack of clarity you subconsciously have when you don’t plan out your days. Without an organized schedule your mind doesn’t know what it needs to do for the day and your days will be scattered and unproductive.
With that being said, it’s vital you tackle your days in a manner which is strategically organized to be the best they can possibly be. I also understand that nobody’s life is the same and everyone has different circumstances they need to navigate in order to make this happen. Luckily there is a productivity technique that jumps over this hurdle.
This technique is known as block scheduling and I can honestly say it has single-handedly changed my life for the better. If you want to learn about the full panel of benefits that block scheduling offers you, make sure to check out the complete article I wrote about it here.
For this post, I’ll explain block scheduling as sectioning off your day into different blocks of time that are specified for a specific task or group of tasks. This can be made extremely easy with calendar applications like Google Calendar.
I’ll show you mine as an example so you get a better idea of what I’m talking about:
As you can see, I literally have every part of my day blocked out and planned out each and every day. View it as over the top, too much, or whatever superlative you want to call it but to me, this makes complete sense. Every part of my day is planned and that means I never have to think about what I’m doing next as it comes at me.
📋 Writing To-Do Lists
I don’t stress or have anxiety about needing to get things done, because I always know what’s coming next. I know when I am going to wake up, eat, sleep and everything in between because I live my life in such a way that I don’t need to make many decisions for myself.
The way I make sure this happens is by not only blocking out when I will do specific types of work, but also writing separate to-do lists for each day. This is made easy with the block scheduling life that I live.
For the purpose of this article, I will sum this up quickly as the full-length explanation can be found in my free eBook 10 Steps to Saving Time and Doing More. If you haven’t already, make sure you check it out so you can start your path down building a better life today.
As you can see in the Google Calendar example, I have parts of my week labeled “Plan Week”. While the name is pretty self-explanatory, let me take a deeper dive into what that means exactly.
📅 My Method
I spend 45 minutes twice a week on this task block. During that task block, I start by looking at a larger life to-do list that I have in my productivity software/task management system Notion. This productivity software has segmented to-do’s in a page called “Things to Plan”.
My life is categorized and color-coded with different things and priority rankings mattering on their importance of getting done. These sections are things like: work, school, housekeeping, and social.
In Notion, I can drag the to-do’s from the larger “Things to Plan” page onto my “Task / Event Calendar”. I do this by allotting those tasks a specific date and time while having my Google Calendar open for reference. This makes it a bit of like fitting pieces into a virtual puzzle as there is only so much time for all the tasks on my master to-do list.
By having the due dates of these tasks written in Notion and having the prioritized sections of my life, it also makes it easy to know what I can put off until next week. For situations where I need to adjust my calendar, I have the second “Plan Week” session scheduled every Wednesday.
This allows me to change things as needed about halfway through the week where things have inevitably altered a bit. Life throws us curveballs all the time so this second day of planning is essential to me getting my work done.
When I put tasks on my Notion calendar, my rule of thumb is to never have the due date be closer than 3 days to when I plan to start working on it. Honestly most of the time it’s more like a week.
With this kind of scheduling and planning, procrastination will only ensue if I don’t believe I need to work on that item when I have it planned or else the whole system falls apart. I’m not saying there aren’t days when I don’t finish what I need to, but I understand that procrastinating a day or two on a task will push so much back that when real life comes my way, I will actually be on the verge of falling behind.
While everyone was scrambling to figure out how to move home from school and needed that week to regroup, I had already done my homework for the next week so I wouldn’t have had a stressful week whether they chose to cancel classes for a week or not.
In fact, that next week was vital in helping me dive deep into working on my online business and gave me the jumpstart I needed to get the ball rolling on everything so I could officially announce it.
⌚ Rules to Plan By
There are certain ways you need to plan your days so you have some extra incentive to get your work done. The first is called “The Daily Highlight“. The basic concept is that every day you should have one thing in mind as your big goal to accomplish.
This makes you look forward to working on the tasks that will lead you to the completion of that ultimate goal. For example, if I want to make my website look great as my “daily highlight”, then doing the tedious tasks throughout the day to make it happen become much easier.
This approach makes you more focused and can change your mindset from the lazy and disgruntled thought of, “This work is going to suck,” to “I can’t wait to get this done because then my website is going to look amazing”. This is why when I put my to-do’s on my Notion calendar, they have more large labels like, “Social Media Work Session” so that the overarching goal is to improve my social media.
Doing little things like this can really change your mind’s perspective and increase your productivity. The next way you can stop yourself from procrastinating is by following Parkinson’s Law. The definition of this law is, “Work expands to fill the time available for completion.”
Think about the classic late-night paper writing session every one of us has had before. You had weeks upon weeks to complete this paper but you managed to wait until the last minute to get it done. Your brain is always going to naturally work this way. By understanding this law, we can fix procrastinating on tasks and assignments that have close and far away deadlines.
On a long-term basis, you can use the systems I told you about earlier in this article like block scheduling and to-do lists with about 1 week or more of buffer time. Just remember to think the whole system will crumble if you don’t get it done when you schedule to do it and that will be enough to get solid work done.
The other way you can use this is to make sure your blocks in your schedule are not too long. Studies have shown that around 90 minutes is a good amount of time to have scheduled to get substantial work done. The reason for this is because it’s not too short so that you can’t get into a good workflow but isn’t too long to where you will find yourself procrastinating to get it done the last few minutes of your work block.
By following this law, you will stop yourself from procrastinating and get more work done in less time. Full disclosure, a good example of how Parkinson’s law is effective is that as I’m getting closer to the end of my “Blog Work Session” on my calendar, the pace of my writing has increased and I am able to get more done than I was at the beginning of the session. Knowing that time is running out is working wonders on me right now.
🍅 The Pomodoro Technique
What if I told you there is a technique out there that can help utilize this hyper-productivity your brain manages to have during a time crunch?
It’s called The Pomodoro Technique. The funny name means “tomato” because this technique is named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Francesco Cirillo had when he developed the technique.
This technique is extremely simple and can switch your mindset from lazy to productive quickly. All you need is a timer of any kind (virtual or physical), but if you want to see other options check them out on our website’s Resources and Tools Page.
The first step is choosing a task you’d like to get done. However, the Pomodoro technique can be used for any day-to-day tasks you are not in the mood for.
The second step is to set a timer for 25 minutes. With this timer, you are making a promise to yourself. This promise is that you will spend 25 minutes working on your chosen task and not do anything to interrupt it.
Step three is to work on the task until the timer rings. You will be so immersed in the task most of the time that you will be surprised the timer went off so quickly. After the timer goes off, you can allow yourself to have a quick five-minute break.
My recommendation is to get up and move around, maybe grab a coffee or stretch for a few minutes. Make sure you are relaxing and not on your phone, so you do not get sucked into it for too long. After you complete four rounds of this, feel free to take a longer break. Here, 20 to 30 minutes will give your brain some time to rest and take in the new information you just dealt with.
In my experience, this method works because you are essentially telling yourself you only have to work on a task for a very short period of time. 25 minutes is short when you rationalize it, so the effort it takes to get started is not nearly as much as it is when thinking of working on something for hours.
Once that first timer goes off, I often find I am already starting to hit that deep workflow I was looking for and the timer becomes pointless. There is no need for you to keep setting the timer if you feel you are doing quality work.
Once you do feel you need a break, make sure you take one so your brain can rest. If it’s been almost 2 hours of you working you can take a longer break, but make sure it’s no longer than 30 minutes.
✅ Start with Uncompleted Tasks
A neat trick I picked up for work sessions is the idea of never starting from a completely blank slate. You can have time scheduled for a work session but if there is literally nothing in front of you then the mental barrier to entry is huge.
Ideally, whenever I start working on something it always has some form of framework made out for it. This is because I have made it while I was brainstorming for video or blog ideas and made a quick rough outline of my thoughts. This helps immensely when I need to sit down and write an article or script a video so I am not doing what a blank page is asking you to do, “Draw a blank”.
Sometimes you don’t have a framework made for the work you are about to tackle and that is completely okay. Another way to avoid procrastinating is by working on something very small you know you need to get done that is in the same work headspace. Let me give you an example.
I didn’t have an outline prepared for this blog besides a few words. This was not much for me to work with so I instead just starting working on some small tweaks to my website I had been putting off. This got me to start working on my business in general so I was in the mindset to do that going forward.
After finishing the small tasks I was able to easily make the transition from those small tasks to working on this blog post. If I had decided to force myself to work on the blog, I probably would have procrastinated or been extremely unproductive with my time. Instead, I got tangible work done in other areas of my business and that helped me snowball into a productive flow for the tasks I needed to get done for the day.
⌛ The One Year Rule
Finally, I’m going to tell you about something that was actually just introduced to me. The One Year Rule is something that helps you become motivated when you are in the act of procrastinating. According to one of my favorite YouTubers, Ali Abdaal, The One Year Rule is the personal thought of, “In one year’s time what would I regret not starting today”.
That’s a really resounding statement when you think about it. It makes you question what is important to you and taps into the internal guilt of regrets we all have felt in our lives. So, ask yourself that question the next time you feel like delaying an important task or starting that side hustle or whatever it may be. Regrets are not something anyone wants to live with.
🤔 Closing Thoughts
I find it pretty funny that I actually procrastinated making this blog post more than I do usually. It does show that nobody’s perfect and I can relate to everyone here about putting off work that they need to get done.
By implementing a few of the tactics I listed above, the procrastination didn’t last more than an hour or two which is better than what I used to be able to manage before I implemented them. Try these out and get started on building a better life for yourself.
Have any advice for the rest of us here? Make sure to leave a comment down below! I’d love to hear what everyone’s thoughts are on this topic.