5 Tips on Dealing with Procrastination and Laziness



Recently I have been working a lot on my productivity. I’ll be completely honest with you, I am an extremely lazy person and a professional procrastinator. This is something I don’t like to admit about myself but I had to face it in order to fight it. When I worked in places where I had a boss, company’s clients and deadlines, being productive was not that hard, as I was accountable to someone else. Now that I am trying to be my own boss and set up my own deadlines sometimes I seriously feel like I am at war with my laziness and procrastination.

Luckily what I definitely love is life-long learning so I took this problem in my hands and decided I will deal with it until it is not slowing down my work anymore. So I started watching courses and reading articles to find all the advice I can use to get myself more motivated and hard working. In the beginning I thought I am not the type of person who can just change the way I work, develop all those new habits and get extremely organized. But the time came when I got so frustrated I had to start putting all that advice into action. And what helped me a lot is knowing about the experiences of people who have been exactly where I was and managed to overcome laziness and become much more productive.

This is my first time writing life and work advice type of post and to be honest I am a bit nervous. I am no productivity expert in any way, I have just started learning and I can’t wait to learn more, because there is still a lot for me to work on. But these are the tips that have helped me so far and I really wanted to share them with you, because some of you might find them helpful too.



1. Make a schedule

I keep a weekly planner where I write down everything that I plan to do during the week. Those are mostly plans that happen on a certain day at a certain time. I try to schedule everything: meetings and classes, band practices, movies and concerts I want to go to, museum visits, flea markets, yoga and swimming workouts, even friend meetings and visits. Sometimes on my bad days I can be too lazy to even do the things I like to do. That is why I really try to plan even the fun stuff. Whenever there is an exhibition I’d like to visit, I ask my husband when he has free time and we decide on a day we go see it. This might be too much for some of you, but it really works for us. Since I started doing it we’ve been missing out on a lot less happenings than before. In our climate it is so easy to decide to stay warm and cozy at home rather than go somewhere, but when it is scheduled it has to happen.

2. Daily to-do lists

I am a little obsessed with to-do lists. I especially enjoy crossing off the tasks I’ve finished. Sometimes when I’ve done something that’s not on the list, I’ll still write it down just so I can cross it off. Seriously, I’m that obsessed! I used to keep a huge list of everything that needs to be done. That list kept growing all the time and there were always more tasks to do than the ones I crossed out. That wasn’t really rewarding, so I changed to having weekly lists. That worked a bit better, but every time I looked at the list I didn’t know where to start. I saw all the tasks on the list and felt overwhelmed with the amount of work I had. I spent more time worrying about how I’ll get all the stuff done than doing the actual work, so many tasks got moved to the next weeks.

Then I learned something that totally solved the problem for me (thanks to April from Blacksburg Belle!): daily to-do’s. I still keep my huge weekly to-do list. But the only time I look at it is at the end of the day to cross off the things I’ve done and pull out the tasks for the next day. I make daily to-do lists the night before and try to plan one day at a time. In the morning I look at the list for the day and only concentrate on the tasks on that list not thinking at all about any other work for that week. It is very important to plan a bit less than you think you can do in one day. Once you’ve finished all your daily tasks, you can do an extra one or two from the weekly list if there is time left. It’s better to do more than you’ve planned than not having enough time to do everything on the list and stress out. When you do that for a while you will learn how much work you usually accomplish in a day and how much time each type of tasks takes. Then you can plan your days even better.

Recently I started making tiny notebooks for myself to write my daily to-do’s in. They work better than regular notebooks, because they have a small amount of lines per page, so I can't plan too much for one day. I’ll share how I make them in an upcoming post!



3. Get inspired by successful people

One of my favorite ways to get motivated is to listen to someone telling their success story. When I hear of a person who has been where I am and managed to get through, succeed, learn how to deal with the same problems I have, I can’t help but try to use their advice. When I know there are people with similar goals working really hard to reach them I feel ashamed to be lazy and still hope to reach those goals. I love watching online courses on creative business, blogging, marketing and so on while I bind my notebooks, sketch, cook, eat, clean or wash the dishes. You can also listen to podcasts while commuting or working out. That way you keep your brain working all the time, you get new ideas and things to work on. Sometimes after watching a really good online course I have so many new ideas I can’t wait to get to work!

4. Start with easy tasks

I know, this is a total opposite from what you usually hear. And I agree, doing the hardest task first thing in the morning is a good thing to do and feels really rewarding. And that is what you should do most of the time. But this tip goes for the bad days, when you get up and you don’t want to even think of work. All you want to do is lie on your bed and watch the lamest tv shows you can find. I have those days sometimes and I hate them. This can happen when you get sick, haven’t slept enough or the previous day was a really hard one. For example, when I play shows with my band I am completely drained the next day. I put so much energy into live performances that it really takes time to gain it back. Other times these days just come randomly and you can’t really predict them. You wake up in the morning and you know it right away, this is the day when it’s gonna be really hard to get things done.

On days like that it really helps to start with easy tasks. In my work this task is folding paper. I really don’t need to concentrate, I just take a bunch of paper and fold each sheet in half. It seriously requires zero energy and zero brain. So whenever I feel like I can’t really do anything today, I start folding paper. And you know what? A lot of the times this super boring process somehow inspires me to get to work. It gets my juices flowing, my brain starts thinking about notebooks and I might even get new ideas, start sketching or taking photographs. Even if I can’t get to other tasks and folding paper is all I can do that day, it is still better than nothing. On my high energy day I can save the time I would spend on folding and use it for some harder tasks.

If your work does not include any boring tasks (lucky you!) you can also do something around the house (or office), like cleaning, washing the dishes, organizing your desk or the folders on your computer. Anything that does not require much energy or brain power. Who knows, you might get into it and move to more important tasks.

5. Reward not punish

I used to always get angry at myself for not getting things done. In the end of a bad day I would think about how I didn’t manage to get everything done, how I am so lazy. I was thinking about how I'll never be successful if I am going to keep being lazy and procrastinating. And that is true, you can’t be successful if you are lazy and can’t get things done. But punishing yourself for it does not really help. So nowadays I try to reward myself for being productive. Sometimes with a nice dinner or desert, other times just thinking about what a great day it was and how well I’ve done. And if it was not a productive day, well, it’s ok, happens to everyone. I can just think of how I can make the next day more productive. I know, all this “happy thoughts” stuff doesn’t always sound like real advice. And I agree, that actions, not thoughts, is what keeps your work moving forward. But the way you think about your work does contribute to the mood you’re in and bad mood does reduce your motivation. So I say happy thoughts for happy work day!



I really hope these tips will help some of you get more productive and organized. And if you are a productivity guru already let us know what helps you stay productive? What motivates you on those lazy days? I'd love to hear your tips too!


4 comments:

  1. Wow this is a great post! Actually I do all of them and they have really helped me a lot too but I really need to work on the last step. I should be proud and happy of the things Ive managed to do but its soo hard. At the moment everything is difficult and stressing and going to therapy (because of depression and bad anxiety) didnt help yet so its even harder. But I will try my best and I hope more people will take the time to read your post! It is really helpful! :)

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    1. Thank you for sharing, Janina! I totally understand you, I have times when I get depressed and none of the things I mentioned above work anymore. Depression is really mean, it slows down everything and makes you feel bad about yourself. But we have to push through, work towards our goals, find those little things that work for us and get support from others. I really hope your therapy starts working soon and you get back to normal!

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  2. Great post! I deal with the same problems and mostly just need to be more organized. Because my days always ended with a bunch of stuff not crossed off the to-do list because I always plan too much on one day, I decided to stop using daily to-do's and made a big "runnning" to-do list. But that indeed does get overwhelming, especially because I put all my new ideas on there too. So I guess it's back to the daily to-do list, but this time a small one that I can actually do!

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    1. I tend to put too much on my list too. That's why I started using those tiny notebooks. I can only use one page per day and I can plan maximum 7 tasks, because that's how many lines per page there are. If your tasks use longer times you can limit yourself with maximum 3-4 of them per day. And if you have time to do more, that's a bonus and you'll feel especially good about yourself.
      I also used to put all my ideas on my big to-do list. This year I made a year plan and it was so useful, cause it helped me realize there's not enough time in the whole year for all of the collections I planned to release in the next couple of months :)

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