Master How to Beat Procrastination & Manage Time Better

Women tired of doing work

What is Procrastination?

Well, that question is a can of worms in itself, but the fact that you’re reading this article means you may be a self-identified procrastinator wanting to find out how to stop wasting time, so you can get the work in and achieve those goals you set out for yourself.

If this sounds like you, awesome, you’ve come to the right place.

You may think there’s a lot of work to do to beat procrastination, but believe me, it’s easier than you think.

Here you’ll find out what causes procrastination, what it looks like in your daily, concrete life, and what you can do to confront and eliminate procrastination from your life forever.

If you’re an entrepreneur or remote worker, procrastination is a nemesis you must continuously face. Procrastination is, essentially, the antithesis of optimising your available time and being able to stay on top of things. It’s when you put something off until later because that something sucks and you don’t want to do it or because you don’t have the mental or physical stamina to tackle it.

But procrastination is also this:

A hunched-over, snarly little guy with a shiny gold tooth and a bird-nest beard who shows up at your most vulnerable time, which is, surprisingly, not when you’re under pressure but when there’s no pressure at all.

He is THE PROCRASTINATOR: The terminator of productivity.

When life is flowing along, and you feel like you have all the time in the world to accomplish the amazing goals you’ve set out for yourself, how to beat procrastination is a distant, inconsequential thought. That’s precisely when The Procrastinator starts creeping into the corners of your day.

Procrastination is why weeks, months, even years can go by without us achieving our goals. It can make us feel like we’re trying to empty the sea with a spoon.

So, if you struggle with procrastination and you want to know how to win the battle against this type of evil, then strap yourself in and pay close attention, because you are about to get one of the most important lessons in life.

So with all that being said, let’s stop procrastinating and jump right into it shall we?

The Top Three Most Distracting Activities, and How They Affect Your Work

Social Media

It’s Tuesday morning, and you’re brimming with good intention. You’ve got a stack of work to get through and your whole day is free to accomplish it.

But somewhere within the first half hour, you find yourself, somewhat unconsciously, engaging in one of the following everyday acts of procrastination (consolidated from the online confessions of self-reported expert time wasters). The next thing you know, it’s lunchtime, and you’ve barely made a dent in your work. And you’ve added five non-work-related tasks to your to-do list.

Here are three shameful reasons why you need to know how to stop wasting time:

Squirreling

The process by which one becomes repeatedly distracted by an extraneous stimulus. The movie “Up!” inspired this term. If you know it, you’ll remember that every dog character regularly stops whatever it was doing to acknowledge a “SQUIRREL!”

While in most cases our cognitive capacities are sharper than a dog’s, we keep ourselves wide open to distraction, for no other reason it seems, than to shift our attention away from something we’d rather not be doing.

The Internet

Social media and the internet in general could be a front runner on the list of top distractions known to humankind in the last ten years. What starts as one quick search for something work-related becomes a suction cup hosting an hour-long cycle through the top Reddit posts or viral videos on YouTube.

Why do we leave ourselves wide open to distractions?

Either because you’re not enjoying how you’re spending your time or because you haven’t created the right set of conditions in which to get those mundane or gnarly tasks done.

Personal Grooming & House Chores

Ever notice how unruly your toenails have become when you’re writing contracts? That’s most certainly the right time to dust off the grooming kit and fix up your otherwise unnoticeable flaws. Or, have you ever let the dishes sit in the sink all day and notice when you sit down to get some work done that all of a sudden you feel a strong surge of energy to do the dishes and some other household chore at that exact moment, because even cleaning can be more soothing than doing the work you need to get done.

What all these time wasters have in common are that they are self-imposed productivity killers. They are precisely why “how to beat procrastination” is a frequently searched phrase. You’re your own worst distraction and the primary reason your business is stagnating.

If you can honestly admit to engaging in even one of those time wasters, then you are doing exactly what you should be doing right now, investing 10 minutes of your day on cultivating better work habits.

Before we start carving the meat of how to beat procrastination, let’s ponder: does procrastination serve some positive evolutionary purpose?

The Flip Side

Procrastination is also a teacher. It gives us valuable clues about our habits if we’re paying attention. In fact, what we learn can change our lives. If you’re in the habit of distracting yourself to delay specific tasks or just avoid them, pay attention to two things to learn how to beat procrastination:

The task itself, and

Your response to tasks that either challenge or bore you (do you squirrel, Reddit, or groom as a self-regulatory response?)

If the task is the culprit of your procrastination, then you have a decision to make. Can you eliminate it from your life? Can the struggle with how to stop wasting time somehow manifest as the eradication of all your responsibilities? If not, which is likely the case because we can’t love everything we have to do, then look at your response to it.

Few people love flossing their teeth or extracting slimy clumps of hair from the shower drain, but we’d live a pretty nasty existence if we didn’t regularly attend to both tasks. Thankfully, we can do both on auto-pilot.

Other tasks, like writing ad copy or booking, require your full-on attention. Submitting to your tendency to waste time draws you further into a dark hole, and the answer to how to beat procrastination fades further into the smog.

Remember this: Untreated procrastination lowers your productivity and increases your stress.

The good news is, in addition to being your own worst distraction, you’re also your own most kickass disciplinarian. A mental shift and a few simple behavioral changes can make a world of difference.

Learning how to stop wasting time is one of the most overall beneficial skills you’ll ever have, so is learning how to beat procrastination. You’ve got a good grip now on why it happens and what it looks like. Keep reading to find out how to become more organised and kick procrastination to the curb.

How To Beat Procrastination With These 5 Actionable Steps

Hand holding piece of paper that says stay focussed

1. Get Motivated.

Easy, right?

The million-dollar solution to how to beat procrastination lies in those two words.

Except it’s not that simple.

The gap between intention and action is motivation. Why do we lack motivation?

For several reasons. We get tired, cold, hungry, sick, fed-up, frustrated, disappointed, disenchanted, or lazy.

What do those states have in common? They’re excuses, which sounds harsh only because it’s true.

How to beat procrastination lies in the eradication of all your excuses.

But they’re also the stuff of life, and they’re never going to go away. The only thing that can change is our response to them. When we stop using these natural states to sabotage ourselves, we stop preventing our growth and success.

So how do we get motivated to make things happen?

By getting inspired.

Who do you revere more than anyone else? What characteristics do they have? What habits do they keep? Model that person while maintaining a clear vision of your personal goals, or what some people call “your why.”

2. Know Your Rhythm

Why does your brain feel like it’s on fire and the rest of your body seems able to keep pace?

When do you feel like you have to push yourself to work on something when you don’t have the energy or the attention to make even the slightest dent?

What times of day do these different energy states occur?

Learning how to stop wasting time starts with knowing how you operate.

When your energy is low, respect your body’s limits. Either break your work down into bite-sized chunks that don’t overwhelm, take a break, or tackle a more straightforward task. Your body can’t function on fumes. Pushing yourself to accomplish an assignment that you barely have the mental energy to even understand yields the same results as procastination.

3. Develop Clear Goals and Timelines

Thinking is abstract; doing is concrete. Both are necessary when it comes to your work.

Planning your business endeavors requires that you think about your objectives and determine what you’ll do to achieve them. Write them down, attach a realistic timeframe to each one, and create gentle reminders for busy times.

Click here to learn more about how to manage time better.

4. Create the Right Set of Working Conditions.

How to beat procrastination starts with creating an environment in which productivity can prevail.

Set yourself up to be physically comfortable but alert. Translation: Don’t stretch out on your cozy feather bed on a rainy day with your laptop in front of you and Enya crooning in the background.

Eliminate potential distractors. Translation: Hide your toenail clippers, disconnect from social media (if your work permits), and throw on a set of headphones to block out irritating sounds (especially if you have to share your workspace).

Take breaks. Translation: Scheduled breaks, devoted to rest and rejuvenation, not little hops onto Facebook every 10 minutes or thinking about the next task.

Business and productivity expert, Neil Patel tells us that 15-20 minute breaks are ideal. According to the Pomodoro technique (named after the tomato-shaped timer its inventor, Francesco Cirillo, used), we should manage our work-rest cycle in timed intervals, called “pomodoros.” Work for 25 minutes then break for 5, with a more extended break every fourth Pomodoro, i.e., every hour.

5. Track Your Time

The clock produces a Panopticon effect that tends to make us work faster and better. Remember what happens when you feel like you have all the time in the world? That creepy little procrastinator guy steps in and smears black paint all over your rainbows.

Tracking your time isn’t just about micro-managing yourself though. It can help you pinpoint exactly how long it takes you to accomplish specific tasks so you can plan your schedule accordingly, or if you’re a contractor or remote worker, it can also give you an accurate overview of how much to charge for your time in the future.

Conquer Your Procrastinator

Man on top of mountain holding hands up in victory.

In every situation, especially when it comes to figuring out how to stop wasting time, we have to discover what works best for us and why. Practice and experience prevail here.

The bottom line is, you know when you’re procrastinating and when you’re kicking butt.

Consider this juicy nugget that might help you feel better about your time-wasting tendencies:
Perfectionism may be the cause of procrastination. It is psychologically more acceptable never to begin a task than it is to fail or fall short. It’s easy to accomplish perfection if you don’t do anything, right?

But that’s not you, don’t strive for perfection. Strive for better than you were yesterday.

When you begin to recognise your working habits more honestly and compare them to what you want to achieve, you’ll step up your game.

Allow the Procrastinator to hang out in the corner of your office smoking his cigar if he absolutely must (he’s one of your many faces after all), but don’t let him run your show.

If you go with the Pomodoro technique, all the power to you. If you’ve established your own work-break groove, awesome.

Another great option is a time tracking software that is supercharged to support your success. In fact, why don’t you check out all the ways AVBTime Time can help you boost your productivity by heading to https://www.avbtime.com/.

About the author

For Jacob technology is our future, and if you give him the chance, he will talk your ears off about computer science for days, which is the major reason why asked him to capture his knowledge for business technology into written words and contribute to our AVBTime blog. It was the only way to get him to stop talking, and do some work.