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6 practical ways to keep procrastination at bay

Akshaya Venkatesh
Front End Enthusiast and Developer on most days.Mandala and Calligraphy Artist on others!
・4 min read

This blog talks about 6 simple yet effective way to minimise procrastination.

Procrastinating simply put, means that you're putting off something important in order to do something fun. It does not apply just to work such as academics. You could be "procrastinating" anything -  from simple things like catching up with friends or cleaning your room  -  to much more serious things like applying for a new job or doing a project that will really help your career.
Procrastination cycle
I found myself doing this a lot and sought to understand the decisions that revolve around procrastination. This led me to find the video that changed my life - 
Inside the mind of a master procrastinator by Tim Urban.

I strongly recommend this video to anyone who is reading this. It will help you understand why you do things or take decisions a certain way. After understanding what I was doing wrong I decided to make some changes to my approach to getting work done. I've listed them below hoping it will be of help.

1. Don't have a "Plan B"

Having a plan B is built-in when you're a procrastinator. Whenever you make plans you keep in mind, there is an easier and less effective alternative in case you fail or not do it at all. So lose your plan B. You will not procrastinate if there is no backup plan.
President Obama saying No plan B

2. Don't wait for the perfect moment

Have you done this? 👉 "Its 9:45 now, hmm... let me start at 10:00" (Why? simply because 10:00 is a round figure - THIS IS AN EXCUSE!!) This dangerous thought process has been my biggest enemy and every procrastinator is guilty of doing it on a daily basis. Waiting for the right moment is basically giving an excuse for not starting something. Avoid this thought(not easy but surely possible). Start then and there.
Do not wait - Just Do gif

3. Pixellate the big picture and reward yourself

Split the big picture into tiny pieces. When you are trying to get a big task done - you don't know where to start, you have a lot of questions or you simply feel nervous about the outcomes, then re-watching a Netflix show may seem like a better option. However, breaking it down and finishing of one piece at a time will get rid of the feeling of overwhelm.
Put down a checklist( - use an app or pen and paper to actually jot it down) the multiple small piece. Every time you complete a tiny task, scored it off of the list. This will give you a sense of accomplishment that'll drive you to the finish.
Person checking off a todo list
It can get tedious and boring when you need to finish work that's gonna take multiple hours straight. In such cases, use the split-up technique and reward yourself each time you finish a couple of subtasks or a target you've set for yourself.
Treat yourself gif

4. Tell some one about your plans

This technique may sound unconventional but it is my personal favourite because it works especially when there's something new you want to try but just can't find the motivation to do or tend to forget about it.

  • Tell someone about what you're gonna do, every time they follow up you will be reminded and you will actually end up doing it.
  • Talk to or read about someone who has already done what you are about to try - their journey will inspire you to do it. Person motivating kid and telling them you can do it

5. Imagine the right outcome

Sometimes, the outcome of your work or task may make you nervous enough to stop you from trying it. This technique comes in handy for such cases. Take the time to imagine that you have done it, you have accomplished your goal. Tell the right outcome to yourself - "I wrote a blog on my new app and it was very well received." instead of "What if no one reads my blog?" because one mediocre blog is better than no blog at all.
Person celebrating a win

6. Change your environment

Sometimes simply moving to a different environment can make you more productive and help you get work done. As someone who is used to sitting at a work desk, I find that sitting outside my house with fresh air helps me finish work faster.
Person working near a pool

This concludes my take on keeping procrastination at bay. Please do share your thoughts and any ideas that have helped you minimise procrastination (I would love to try them out) or leave feedback in the comments section. You can also find me on Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Discussion (20)

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rafanas profile image
Rafael Fu

Telling someone about my plans has failed to me many times and it can be humiliating. We are all different, but I would say that you can wait until you get some REAL results. Keep your IMAGINARY results for yourself.

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venkyakshaya profile image
Akshaya Venkatesh Author • Edited

Thank you for sharing - I am of course not suggesting you to share the results before you have event tried - that is certainly a bad idea. Telling something like - "Hey have you tried this? I've been meaning to for a while now...". The next time when I know I am gonna meet them it will be at the back of my mind that they're gonna ask me about it or even if I forget, them asking, "Hey did you try it out? " will serve as a reminder.

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lilithkarapetyan profile image
Lilit Karapetyan

Haha! I don't remember writing this article :D Couldn't agree more on all points.
After having years of experience in procrastination, I tried every possible thing that came to my mind.
The first point you mentioned about not having a plan B, I do slightly differently. Whenever I have a plan A, and I don't want to do it and still force myself to start doing it, as a result, I spend my whole time trying to convince myself to do something. In the end, I get tired and have nothing done. As a solution, knowing myself, I just discard plan A, not to spend time on it :D. In this way, plan B becomes my only plan, so I do it without procrastinating :D.
Another minor difference is that sometimes by imagining the possible great outcome, I start daydreaming and procrastinating my current task :D So, one has to be careful with it.
The rest of the points I directly apply in my life. Depending on the situation and my mood, different methods work.
Thanks for addressing this important topic; I'm sure this will help people stay more self-organized and motivated!

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venkyakshaya profile image
Akshaya Venkatesh Author

So you're saying Plan B is the actual plan but you force yourself to do something more difficult or tiring i.e. Plan A so that Plan B seems easier and better. Wow this is a great perspective. Thank you so much for sharing.

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siddharthshyniben profile image
Siddharth • Edited

About the third point, sometimes it can be helpful to start at a round figure, like on the first day of the week or month. It's called the fresh start effect, and it can help you get started. There's research on this

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venkyakshaya profile image
Akshaya Venkatesh Author

Oh that's insightful. I just read up about fresh start effect. Thank you for sharing Siddharth!

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siddharthshyniben profile image
Siddharth
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venkyakshaya profile image
Akshaya Venkatesh Author

This was a good read. Thanks again! I am certainly putting this to practice!

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siddharthshyniben profile image
Siddharth

The doist blog has some really good advice on productivity, and their todo app (Todoist) is also what I use

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shahiscoding profile image
Abhishek shah

The second point on waiting for the right time hit me really hard. I have been doing this for as long as I remember. Waiting for the round figure and in doing so, I mostly wasted hours because the time didn't seem right or something else.

The thought still crosses my mind but I have learned to put that thought aside and start working.

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venkyakshaya profile image
Akshaya Venkatesh Author

Yes like I said - it’s the procrastinator’s biggest enemy. Glad that now you’re able to put it aside and work 👏👏👏 thanks for sharing 😁

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easyvipin profile image
Vipin Chandra

One of the best blog I read in 2021
" Don't have a plan B " 👏👏

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venkyakshaya profile image
Akshaya Venkatesh Author

Thank you Vipin. That means a lot to me 😇

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johnyrockquid profile image
johnyrockquid

I've read studies that prove procrastination is a form of thinking. You postpone things that are constantly pondered and decided by your subconscious. It's like with morning and not morning people.

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venkyakshaya profile image
Akshaya Venkatesh Author

Whoa! This opens up a whole new realm of thoughts for me. Thanks for sharing. 🙌

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pavelee profile image
Paweł

Great article!

I would add something about distractions from your phone, like FB, YT etc.
Blocking notification (during work) can protect you from excuses (like new YT video)

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naman56 profile image
Naman Budhiraja

Hey, this is amazing. Will apply it to increase my productivity..

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vanshsh profile image
Vansh Sharma

2nd point is so apt for me 🥺🥺.
I think it's time to change my habit 🙄.

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venkyakshaya profile image
Akshaya Venkatesh Author

We’ve all been there. Don’t worry Vansh. Once you’ve realised what you’re doing wrong - there is always time to rectify it. Glad this helped you 🙌🙌

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cuobiezi profile image
cuobiezi

Thanks for your sharing . I’m very agreeing the last point . I was aways to do other things when I working at home , I can’t focus on my work . I can work better at Starbucks or some public areas.