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Stop Procrastinating – 4 Tips to Help You Get Things Done

stop procrastinatingHave you ever had a task that you would postpone days on end? Well, I know I had, and quite frankly more often than I would like to admit. Just a couple of days ago my girlfriend asked me to go with her shopping and I said I can’t, I’m busy working on my blog. But the truth is I wasn’t actually getting anything done, I was just sitting at my laptop and looking at what needed to be done.

This has happened to me a lot of times and what’s worse about it is that a simple task that could have taken me 1 or 2 hours to complete, ended up wasting all of my day.

Yes I know, I have a huge problem with overcoming procrastination.

In this post I’ll be sharing a couple of tips which I’ve just recently started to put in practice and which have helped in increasing my productivity online.

For me, as for other people I’m sure it’s important to make the most out of the time we spend working on our websites, social media, creating content, especially if you’re working online only part-time and still need a day job to put food on the table.

So let’s do this! Before I decide to write this post next week.:)

1. Focus on Starting not on Finishing

Think about when you’re trying to push a car. The hardest part would be to just get the wheels rolling. At first this would seem like a difficult task overall, but if you focus all your energy to get it moving, the momentum will make everything else a lot easier.

If you focus too much on finishing a project, whether it’s a blog post, or website, you can sometimes become overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done and before you know it you decide to do it another day.

Whenever I’m writing a blog post all my concentration goes into creating the first paragraph. Because once I have that written down, everything else flows easily.

What I do, is write the first paragraph in Notepad, so I’m not distracted by anything, and then once I’m happy with it I copy/paste it into my WP editor and take a 5 minute break. This is something I’ve been doing for the last month now and I can definitely notice that the time I spend on writing posts has decreased. Before this, it took me up to 2-3 days to finish a post.

Now, this strategy can be applied to whatever project or task you might have. All you need to remember is too focus on the immediate action. If you’re just starting focus on completing the first step of the process. And then the second step, and so on.

2. Avoid Information Overwhelm

With all the free information that’s available online, all the tutorials, all the ebooks, all the guides, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed and lose track of what you should do to improve your online business.

Sometimes you just got to stop reading and start taking action.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you need to stop learning, for me learning is the biggest investment you can make to improve yourself as a blogger and as an online marketer.

The key to not getting overwhelmed by information which can lead you to procrastinate or worst quit all together is to only learn what you can immediately apply to your business.

So next time you see an email telling you to read that blog post or check out an ebook or a course, ask yourself “Is this information going to help me with what I need to do right now?”. If not, then don’t read it, you won’t lose anything except valuable time which could be spent on things that apply to what your doing right now.

Trust me I’ve made this mistake, not once, but lots of times, and I can tell you that overwhelming yourself with information that does not apply to what your doing right now will only give you an excuse to avoid doing what you actually need to do.

3. Aim for Progress not Perfection

“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” Leo Tolstoy Tweet this

One of the things that lead me to postpone tasks and procrastinate was that if I couldn’t finish a blog post or setup a site that day I wouldn’t start at all. And this points back to the first tip, focusing on starting and not on finishing.

procrastinationSometimes we say “Oh no, I won’t be able to finish this today, I better leave it for tomorrow”. And tomorrow something else might come up and the thing you wanted to take care of ends up being pushed back.

When I started commenting on other blogs I said I would leave 10 comments each day. But there where days when I was so busy that I didn’t have the time to leave 10 comments. I told my self, I’ll leave 20 comments tomorrow. And tomorrow came and sure enough I didn’t have the time to leave 20 comments, and so on I kept postponing this.

Instead of putting something off because you don’t have time to finish it, try getting at least “x” amount of work done. If I can’t leave 10 comments today, fine I’ll leave only 5, but I’m getting some work done.

If you wait until something is perfect, you will wait forever. What seems perfect for me, might not be that perfect for you.

If you’re working on a course or an ebook or maybe a simple tutorial video, stop asking yourself what if this or what if that, just put it out there, it might not be perfect for you but maybe that’s exactly what people were looking for.

4. Hold Yourself Accountable

Holding yourself accountable for your actions is another way you can avoid procrastination.

What I suggest is to find a community within your niche and partner up with other people. Set up challenges for each other that have rewards and consequences.

For example Darren Rowse from Problogger.net creates group writing projects for his readers. The winner always get’s a reward prize, and having a little competition will always provide you with that little extra motivation to get things done.

You can form a Facebook group or a Google+ community where you share your goals with the other members and report each thing you have accomplished.

If everyone in the community shares their breakthroughs it will definitely motivate you to work harder so that you have something to share with your community.

I’m sure you’ve experienced how a little competition can motivate you to finish projects faster, so I why not put yourself in that position once in a while.

Takeaway

Let’s do a quick recap of the 4 steps that can help you overcome procrastination.

1. Focus on starting, not on finishing.

2. Avoid information overwhelm.

3. Aim for progress, not perfection.

4. Hold yourself accountable.

If at least one of these tips has stuck with you then I’ve managed to do a good job with this post.

And if you know other strategies that have helped you overcome procrastination please share them in your comments. I’d love to hear all about it.

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Comments

  1. This is such one sensible post. I am always guilty on procrastinating and often regret on wasting my time. I am most guilty on your first point which is to focus on starting rather than on finishing. I always try to think that I should finish everything yet I don’t know how or where to start to speed things up.

    • Hi Jeremy, personally I think procrastination is part of the human nature. I find my self procrastinating the most when I’m creating video tutorials which I post on Youtube.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, have a great day Jeremy.

  2. I always want to get rid of procrastinating. It is not a easy job. But I still working to improve.
    At the end of the day, when I think what I’ve done today, it makes uncomfortable that I didn’t any noticeable task today. To get rid of this I start using a To Do list Chrome extension and Pomodoro tool. And it works great for me.
    Writing the first para of blog post is really a tough task. But once I did it, it doesn’t take too much time to finish a post.
    Thanks for your nice post.

  3. I like this post because I agree with all of these principles. The only thing I would recommend is, rather than opening your email and then asking yourself if what you’re reading is relevant to the task; just don’t open your email at all. I tend to set aside time before I start my work to check all my emails and messages and then tell myself I won’t check them again for at least an hour. Make sure that you don’t have your Facebook or emails open on another tab in your browser either as you’ll be tempted to look!

    It works for me and I’m more productive because of that.

    Regards,
    Nico

  4. Wow Philip, really good one. I needed it at this juncture when I have just atarted a blog and this Procrastination is ain’t helping me a bit. Tweeting it.

  5. Great photos! You point out some great ways to overcome procrastination. AND… You finished this post ;)

  6. Hi Philip
    The best part that i liked was when you mentioned that it’s better to focus on starting than finishing.
    However there is also a healthy side to delaying action ; you get some time off from incessantly bashing your head against a problem.Then after a gestation period you can get back at things with vigour.Imstill not advocating procrastination.
    Thanks
    Mona

  7. Hi Philip,

    Great post – and something I can very much relate to. I am a part-time blogger and like you I still work full time, I also have two kids so my time on my blog is precious. I use outlook a lot and set up my tasks and make sure I stick to them. It is so easy to get sidetracked though as you say, you must be disciplined to not open everything you get or even not have your email client open at all when you want to work….

    I have started closing all my social media/email etc when I want to really focus. Excellent point on the “Getting started” as this is most definitely the hardest hurdle….

    Useful post,
    John

    • Hi John, I’m so glad you found my post useful. Yeah I totally agree with you here, discipline is very important, especially when you are your own boss. I think social media is also an important part of blogging but the difficult thing about it is to stick with what you actually need to do and not to get distracted by other stuff.
      Thanks for your comment John, enjoy your weekend.

  8. Yes, a real good one! What I did as well: I asked my IT to not push my emails more than two times a day into my Outlook. So I only get my (external) mails at 11:00 and 16:00. That works very fine for me ;o)

  9. I would like to add a 5th step to your tips.

    Split your tasks into smaller subtasks

    Its easier to start if u know that u can finish a smaller subgoal.

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