How I stopped procrastinating

Procrastination

 

In the last years, I struggled a lot with prioritization and to start working on my tasks. I tried a lot of different prioritization techniques, but I continued to procrastinate and struggle with my work for a long time.

The truth is that even the best method cannot solve procrastination and demotivation. They can provide a guideline and give some good ideas. However, to become truly efficient, some other things need to be considered first.

There are seven factors which I believe are more critical than methods and tools.

Be aware of your personality type

The personality type is an essential aspect to find the right techniques and methods to be more efficient and motivated. For someone who likes structure and routine, a simple task list might be more useful than a mind map with colours and pictures. Someone who tends to get lost in details needs to find a way to stop overengineering. For creative people, it might be more fun and motivational to draw ToDos in the form of pictures. A general understanding of your personality type helps a lot to find appropriate ways to stay motivated and productive. Don’t force yourself using a method just because it is supposed to be the best.

If you are interested to know more about personality types, have a look at the DISC Model: https://www.discprofile.com/what-is-disc/overview/

Experiment

Try different methods and techniques, adapt them, combine them or even create something entirely new. Don’t stick to one finding only. It is also ok to have various approaches for different intentions or to change the method when the current way is not appealing anymore.

Find your WHY

Knowing why specific tasks and projects should be accomplished, is significant to stop procrastination. Motivation and productivity can only happen when the purpose is clear, and intrinsic motivation gets sparked. Work is not enjoyable and motivational if there is no meaning to it. If procrastination continues and the WHY sounds like “my colleague wants it” or “to master a new language is cool”, it might not be inspirational enough or does not spark intrinsic motivation.

Combine and integrate projects into daily routines

From time to time, I faced tasks and projects which I postponed forever, despite many attempts. I wanted to become better with drawing Sketch Notes and learn a new language. Both of them were big and challenging projects, and I had troubles to find the time and motivation to learn both of them regularly (next to many other projects). I started to combine my language learning with drawing Sketch Notes, for example, by drawing Sketch Note scenes and writing the vocabulary next to the pictures. I also started to integrate Sketch Notes and language learning into my daily routine. Since then, my grocery lists are sometimes Sketch Notes or written in Spanish. These changes made it fun and were easier to integrate into my daily life compared to regular learning sessions. Find ways to incorporate projects into your daily routines or combine them to get started.

Try different media

The type of media has a significant impact on my motivation. I mainly prefer physical media because it gives me satisfaction to move things around or tick something off. Apart from that, I use different media for different purposes. One of my projects is organized with Post-its on my door, my To-Dos are listed in a physical notebook, my training plan is written in X-Card style, hanging on my fridge, and for my collaborations, I use online Kanban boards.

Create small tasks

Some projects and tasks simply overwhelmed me. I was not sure how and where to start. Instead of doing anything, I just postponed these things endlessly. In such cases, it helped me a lot to sit down and brainstorm by listing every step and action which comes into my mind to achieve that work. Afterwards, I put the results in some order. Until now, that approach provides me with an overview of the steps which need to be done. Furthermore, smaller tasks do not overwhelm me, and it becomes easier to start working on them.

Focus on results

At the beginning of being self-employed, I was stuck with an old-fashioned 9 to 5 routine. I was unhappy when I haven’t managed to work at least 8 hours per day. But that new home working experience, back then, made it hard to stay focused and concentrated for several hours. Only after some time, I realized that the amount of hours spent does not have an impact on my progress. Sometimes I worked endless hours but didn’t manage any achievements. As a result, I started to set goals and objectives which I split up into smaller work packages. At the beginning of every week, I decided which goals I want to achieve and moved the related tasks into my To-Do List. From that point on, I started measuring myself by the things I have accomplished. That approach made me finally see my progress and achievements, and I was able to celebrate them.