49 Ways To Stop Procrastination
You’ve done a morning ritual. You’ve had your dose of caffeine. You’re ready to start working and then it hits you —procrastination takes over and lures you into doing something else. Next thing you notice and the day is gone and you made zero progress.
We’ve all been there, and here’s the deal: procrastination isn’t simply about getting another task crossed off your list —it could be robbing you of your dreams, fulfillment and the progress.
Because guess what the number one motivator for our lives is?
It’s not money.
It’s not accolades.
It’s not Instagram follows.
It’s progress —in life, business and the overall trajectory of our goals.
Let’s dive into the 49 ways you can stop procrastination —and start creating the undeniable momentum that comes with progress.
1. Get clear on your North Star Vision.
If you’re not clear on where you’re going and why it matters to you —most “tactics” and “hacks” will never work. Start here and be willing to go deep. Because when you aim for nothing, you’re guaranteed to hit it. If you want help with this, take my free 2020 Masterclass.
2. Compress all deadlines by 50%.
Do you really need 6 months to finish that project? We often give ourselves too much time —and wait until the last second to get it done. Instead, compress the deadlines you have by 50% and watch the magic happen. We are all disciplined when our back is up against the wall.
3. Break up your vision into “3 Big Rocks.”
I wrote about this in The 1% Rule —but take your grand vision and break it down to three big rocks during the next 90 days. These should stretch you enough to compel urgency, but not be overwhelming. Then, delete what is unnecessary.
4. Have multiple levels of accountability.
You think your “free” accountability group with your poker buddies is enough? I’m being serious —have at least three levels of accountability and make sure one is paid. Everyone in the world needs accountability, even those who have created various levels of success. We all have blind spots, and they are costly.
5. Tap into your future self every day.
I always ask people —you have time to check email and Instagram, but not check in with your future self? Every morning, I connect with my 45-year old self and I get clear on how I can collapse who I am today with how they show up. This simple exercise creates massive clarity and urgency.
6. Set outcomes but obsess over processes.
Running a 26.2 mile race is an outcome —buying a marathon training plan, putting in 15 miles a week, having a gallon of water a day are all processes. Set outcomes, but then obsess over the process.
7. Be prepared for when motivation is gone.
Any goal, endeavor or project —will have several moments of what I call “the valley”. Motivation is long-gone and the novelty has worn off. Make sure you prepare in advance for this —otherwise procrastination will take over.
8. Start every morning on Airplane mode.
This is non-negotiable —would you rather start the day on your terms or based on Zuck’s algorithm? Take control back and send the world a message: your dreams matter. Your mental health matters. Your focus matters. Your purpose matters.
9. Make distractions unavailable.
You know the whole thing about the best way to avoid eating ice cream is to not have it in the house? Same goes with the phone —find ways to create friction. When I enter my office, I leave the phone in another room and Taylor and I purchased a lockbox for it. Yes, you have to go to these extremes.
10. Identify what “winning” the day looks like.
When I ask people what winning their day looks like —they often pause, hesitate and ramble. Instead, get clear on a few small, yet important markers of success for the day. Be specific, vivid and detailed. Own the day, own the week, own the year and eventually you’ll wake up to a thriving life where others are asking you what the “secret” is.
11. More structure equals more freedom.
Freedom is the opposite of structure, right? Not quite —having structure allows for freedom. Frontload your day as much as you can and dose high levels of structure early so you can experience freedom and peace of mind later.
12. Do not check email before a certain time in the morning.
Unless you work in customer service —do not check your email. My personal rule is 9:00AM but I often go until 11:00 or 12:00PM. I often find that my ability to focus after checking email is compromised and I’m in the hamster wheel of small tasks.
13. Choose to leave the cult of “busy”.
Everyone’s busy —from executives to stay-at-home parents to your college roommate who still lives in their parent’s basement. However, is busy the end goal for you and how you define a successful life? Not for me. Stop using the word entirely and seek to live a prioritized life.
14. Delete one thing off your plate daily.
We’re quick to add things into our lives —but slow to delete. Make this a daily process by asking yourself: what is no longer serving me? By having less on your plate, you’re able to avoid procrastination and get the needle movers done. Less is always more.
15. Be willing to say “no” —even to opportunities.
Distractions come in all shapes and sizes —and we often give away our “yes” to things that don’t matter. I see this with entrepreneurs all the time who hop on any new opportunity talking about all the upside and then wake up three months later and it never came to life. Own your “no” and don’t apologize for it.
16. Track your time —and review trends.
Like Seneca said in his brilliant ‘On The Shortness Of Life’ —people will value and track their finances, but then give their time freely to what doesn’t matter. Instead, track your time. I use RescueTime —which is free —and it spits out daily and weekly reports on productivity.
17. Work in sprint-recovery-sprint cycles.
Research states that an ideal block of time is a 52-minute sprint. The Pomodoro method which is an all-time favorite for me works on 25-minute cycles of focus with a 5-minute break —repeated four times. Harness the power of short, intense bursts where no one is able to distract you and then recover wisely.
18. Embrace ‘white space’ and recovery.
Remember —productivity is not about squeezing out every last second of your workday. It is about being intentional and doing less —but ensuring you do what matters. Recover wisely and introduce white space before you need it. Self-care is not optional.
19. Aim for four good hours.
If you’re doing truly focused work —research states you will top off at about four hours. I know what you’re thinking —only four hours!? You will be amazed at how much you can create in that time when you do it right. Chris Bailey, a productivity expert who was on the Academy, once compared his 90-hour weeks with 20-hour weeks and realized he barely got anymore done during the former.
20. Do the emotional work hiding under procrastination.
Procrastination is a symptom of a deeper issue —it can be a lack of clarity, belief or fear of success and what other people think. If you wanted to start a podcast and you’re still looking for equipment six months later, it’s not about the surface area tactics. It’s an emotional issue. Ask yourself —what are you afraid of?
21. Have a morning ritual —but use it wisely.
You woke up early, listened to affirmations, wrote down your vision, trained your body and aligned your chakras —and now you’re on social media!? I posted this once as a joke, but it’s true. Your morning ritual is designed to help you do your most important work in the least amount of time. Protect this time wisely.
22. Identify your “One” thing by doing a brain dump.
This is taken from the One Thing —the brilliant book by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan who was on the podcast. Make a brain dump of all the things you “could” do —and then identify the one thing you must do, or what they call your ‘success’ list.
23. Leave the time + effort economy and seek results.
The time and effort economy operates under the myth that more time and effort equals more results. Meaning —if it takes you 6 hours to do something, that will lead to better results than 45 minutes. However, that is not true —what matters is the result. Value that first and watch what happens.
24. Value consistency over intensity.
You want to write a book in a week, record six podcast episodes in one day —and build an empire overnight? I love the enthusiasm, however, consistency will always pay off more than intensity. A daily practice is more valuable than a once in a while blitz of intensity.
25. Review your week every Sunday.
Every Sunday —unplug from the world and review your week. Ask yourself what your biggest wins and challenges were. Take an inventory of what’s most relevant and then look forward to the next week. What does winning the week look like for you? Drifting into a new week is never a recipe for anything except overwhelm and feeling lost.
26. Embrace the process as the end; not a means to an end.
If you can’t love the daily work in pursuit of your dream, what’s the point? I used to see the process as a means to an end; the end being more money, growth, success, results. And sure, those are nice —but the process is where you will spend 95% of your time. How can you love the ride? When you do, you get there faster and with way more fun.
27. Honor divine timing and detach.
You didn’t expect the phrase ‘divine timing’ to be associated with procrastination —right? Well, I’m not your typical productivity hacker spewing off the best tools for your focus. I believe in doing your best work and then letting go. Timing is a real thing and you can’t “out-hustle” your way to it. Sometimes, working harder means you’re pushing what you want away. Do your best work; and then eject into the void.
28. Have B-O-U-N-D-A-R-I-E-S.
You know that person who calls you and chews your ear off for an hour and sends you into a tailspin around politics and family drama? Yeah, it’s time to set some boundaries. Hold your ground. Close the door. Tell your family that Mom or Dad are unavailable for the next hour. Don’t answer every text the moment you receive it. Let people miss you as Seth Godin says.
29. Put yourself out there once a day.
You know that action step you’re procrastinating on? Yeah, that one —lean in and do it now. Put yourself out there. Make the bold pitch. Raise the proposal price by 50%. This energy, regardless of outcome —moves mountains. Make the bold leap and do it now.
30. Dose play, adventure and “fun” time.
Insert these into your calendar and protect them —they are as important to beating procrastination as anything else. More work until your eyeballs bleed is not the answer. Get outside —hike, play, walk the dogs and unplug. Read a novel, learn how to cook or hit a local Improv class. Watch what this does to your creativity and peace.
31. Move your body daily.
Physical activity is non-negotiable —it is like taking a shower. Moving your body leads to clarity. We can all relate to the time we went to the gym agonizing over a problem and left with a simple solution. Train for vitality, energy and purpose. Change it up. Do yoga, then sprint, CrossFit and a long walk.
32. Make a decision —even if it’s the wrong one.
What Tommy —the wrong decision!? Yes. I am here to tell you that indecision and paralysis analysis is worse than the wrong decision. Because decisions compel momentum and progress —even if that is taking one step back to take two steps forward. What is one decision you’re putting off right now?
33. Master the basics —rest, hydration, clean eating.
It’s hard to be productive and inspired when you’re exhausted and dehydrated. Master the basics. Take care of your body and mind. Drink more water than you think you need. Recover, sleep, and take a nap if you need it.
34. Celebrate your wins every day.
In my programs —we celebrate wins every Friday. I personally write down 5-10 wins before noon. Why? Because this shifts our attention towards what is working and compels us to do more of it. It releases overwhelm and discouragement.
35. Invest in yourself through coaching and programs.
When you pay —you pay attention. It is worth it every single time. We have all the “free” information we could ever use and it’s actually keeping us stuck. Put yourself on the line. Write your dreams a check —whether it’s $1 or $10,000. This creates an internal shift; you cross the threshold between interested and committed.
36. Burn all of your productivity books and ask a simple question.
Not literally —but at some point you do not need more tools, hacks and systems to end procrastination. You need to answer one question. Take yourself three years down the line and procrastination is still a problem. Nothing has changed —how does it feel like to wake up in three years with no progress?
37. Lower the bar to get started.
Activation energy is the barrier to start —think of the resistance you have over writing 1,000 words. Instead, commit to 100 words. Minimize the quota to get started —and watch the magic happen.
38. Honor the season of life and business you’re in.
We treat our bodies like machines —and expect to be firing on all cylinders all the time. Understand we operate in cycles, as does nature. Winter is time to hibernate and rest. Spring is time to come out and bloom. Summer is the fire season —and Fall is time to show gratitude and let go of what no longer serves you. Keep these in mind. Note —they do not literally follow the timeline of seasons, although they can. I spent five years in a Spring and Summer cycle; then had to take three months of Winter.
39. Stop beating yourself up.
The Average American worker is productive 1.8 to 2.1 hours a day. Think about that! If you have a “bad” day and spend four hours on Reddit, that’s okay. Learn the lesson and move on. Tomorrow is a new day.
40. Seek essentialism —less is more.
Essentialism, the book by Greg McKeown —is all about identifying the few things that matter. Embrace this minimalist approach to work so you can void the trap of success that most people do. They realize at each level of “success” they are more busy, not less.
41. On that note, define success for yourself.
What does it look and feel like to you? Personally, I am not interested in having a 500-person organization. I don’t want a full calendar of meetings every single day. I don’t want to be enslaved by an inbox. I don’t want to micro-manage people. Get clear on your version of success and paint a picture of your “perfect” day. Otherwise, you may wake up having achieved someone else’s version of success.
42. Do one thing every day for the purity of it.
In other words, not every hobby or activity needs to be monetized. I recently enrolled in a Creative Writing MFA —two years of rigorous work and twenty hours a week and a hefty tuition. Will that make me more money? Doubtful. Does it matter? No! Because I love it and it makes me feel alive. Isn’t that enough?
43. Hang out with people who lift you up.
If you hang out with naysayers, critics and trolls who waste their time —do you expect to be any different? People who respect their time will respect yours too.. Procrastination is hard when you’re surrounded by people who inspire and motivate you to be your best self.
44. Stop multitasking —it doesn’t work.
I know we all think we can text while we drive, scour Amazon during a phone call and keep 19 tabs open. We can’t. Eventually, our attention and focus plummets and we have no willpower left. Delete multitasking and catch yourself when you’re doing it. Cal Newport does great work in this space and was featured on the Academy podcast.
45. Set up environments for your success.
Now that we’re all working from home —cultivate a space of focus, work and bring your vision to life. Clean up your office. Make it yours. Put reminders on the wall; buy a whiteboard. Set it up to inspire your best work. Put a sign on the door.
46. Batch activities when possible.
Personally —it’s hard for me to go from a coaching session, webinar or podcast and back into writing mode. Once I start teaching, it’s game over. What I do now is batch as much as I can —three hours of straight coaching instead of scattered sessions throughout the week.
47. Deepen your why until it makes you emotional.
Ultimately —we do what matters to us. Why does your work, dreams and goals matter to you? Don’t skim the surface —go deep. Personally, my mission is fueled by helping others get out of the pain of untapped potential that riddled my life for years. When I connect to this mission —procrastination is less of an issue.
48. Take the attention off you —who needs you right now?
When clients tell me they’re procrastinating over a video or piece of content —I tell them they’re being selfish. I’ve done the same and instead, I ask a question: who will miss out by avoiding what has to be done? Close your eyes. Think of that person.
49. Understand the real cost of procrastination.
It’s not about getting more done —it’s waking up at 77 drenched in regret. You never started the side hustle. You never committed to the business. You never tapped into a deeper purpose. You traded dreams of security —the illusion of safety over a state of thriving. Read this from the Leap Of Your Life.
49 Ways To Stop Procrastination Resources
This season of COVID-19 can be the most stressful, anxious filled and one where you spent countless hours bickering about mask politics and going down conspiratorial rabbit holes. And if that breathes life into you, then more power to you.
But for most, it doesn’t —and I am seeing a lot of talented people lose the battle of focus and be addicted to stimulus and current events that make them feel less empowered and in control. Which is why stopping procrastination isn’t about a hack; it’s life or death.
If any of this connected with you —let me know. Take the 2020 Masterclass —the same content from my Scottsdale intensive seminar compressed to 40 minutes with a done-for-you workbook and HD video and audio. Oh, and it’s free.
Which of these is most important to you? Post to comments!