5 Ways to Overcome Procrastination Right Now

I've struggled with procrastination throughout my life, but these tools I've discovered along the way have helped me to greatly reduce this problem in my life. In this post I will give you five practical ways to fight procrastination and start taking action on what really matters.

1. Be sure that what you're doing is actually important

The first thing I do when I feel that urge to push something off is to ask myself "Why don't I feel like doing this right now? Am I delaying because the task seems difficult, or am I putting it off because I feel that it is unimportant?"

If I'm delaying just because it's difficult, I am definitely procrastinating. When this happens I use one or more of the following methods in this post to push myself into action.

However, if I'm delaying because I feel like the task is unimportant, I ask myself "Why do I feel like this is unimportant?". After asking myself "Why?" a few more times I will either discover that the task really is important and or I will determine it's not important and remove it from my list.

2. Have things prepared in advance

If I decide I want to go for a run in the morning, I put my shorts, shoes, headphones, and everything I'll need right next to my bed. When I wake up the next morning I don't even have to think. I've already made the decision that I will be going for a run, and I've already prepared. Now I just get dressed, go outside, and start running within 5 minutes. My brain doesn't even have the chance to talk me out of it.

If your goal is to write a blog post, briefly plan ahead where you will write it, what tools you will use (Google Docs, pen and paper, a typewriter), and what topic you will write about. Prepare those tools ahead of time and plan when the actual task will happen. Then when the time comes all you have to do is sit down and write.

3. Start with just 15 minutes

When I find myself not wanting to start a project because it seems too large or overwhelming, I pull the just 15 minutes trick on myself. Instead of focusing on the entire project, focus on the first small task. I can do just about anything for 15 minutes.

  • I have to write new text for our entire website?
    I'll work on it for just 15 minutes.
  • I need to do my taxes?
    I'll work on it for just 15 minutes.
  • I need to eat something healthy?
    I'll start with just 15 minutes.

Once I've started working on something for 15 minutes I often get into it and start making enough progress that I'm over the initial hump. Now it's becoming enjoyable and I have enough momentum to work on it for a few hours.

4. Take the pressure off by doing a bad job on purpose

As a recovering perfectionist, I find that one of the biggest reasons I procrastinate is because I don't know if what I'm going to do is going to be good. I'm afraid that what I create is going to be subpar or that it's going to be too hard to make it as good as I want it to be.

Instead of becoming frozen and never starting, I now just tell myself that I'll do a quick crappy version of whatever it is that I'm supposed to be doing. Instead of spending 30 minutes perfecting the title of my blog post, I spend 30 minutes writing a terrible version of the post. Once I have a complete something on paper I can refine it and correct it. It's much easier to fix something crappy than to create something perfect on a blank page.

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5. Reset your brain 

Sometimes I find that my other methods aren't working and I simply need to reset. Here's how:

Cardio Exercise

Going for a walk, doing some pushups, or following along with a 7-minute workout app wakes up my body and gets my blood flowing to my brain again. Doing some physical exertion helps gear me up for some mental exertion as well.

Take a Power Nap

Taking a 15 minute power nap often does the trick. For me it's like restarting a computer. I decide what I'm going to do as soon as I wake up and have all my tools ready. Then I take the power nap and get to it.

Cold Shower

Taking a freezing cold shower shocks my body awake and gets me used to doing something I don't want to do. I use this as an alternative to caffeine in the mornings. Bonus - once you've taken a freezing cold shower, you probably won't do anything more uncomfortable than that all day. Everything else will seem easy.

Don't overthink it. Just start.

Procrastination is a mind game. I know that I'm talking myself out of doing something I know I should be doing. The more I think about doing it and don't do it, the harder it seems. Whatever it is that you're trying to do probably isn't as hard as you're making it out to be.

Just get started. Now.

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.
— Abraham Lincoln

How we apply this to building websites at Knapsack:

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Benjamin Manley, Founder at Knapsack

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Benjamin Manley