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5 Foolproof Tips to Overcome Procrastination

laptop-and-coffeeIf you’re like me, you have a growing to-do list filled with big ideas to accomplish. Yet day after day, life gets in the way and our passion project falls by the wayside.

We make excuses like “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “I’m not in the mindset right now”, waiting for the perfect moment of inspiration to suddenly strike. The funny thing is that “perfect moment” doesn’t actually exist.

Maybe you don’t know how to start. Or maybe you’re afraid of failing. Whatever is holding you back, acknowledging and diffusing resistance is the first step to ending procrastination.

To help you with this process, here are five productivity hacks to kick your motivation into high gear:

Pick One Goal

If you try to do everything, you’ll end up doing nothing. Taking on too much at once dilutes energy and focus, meaning you can’t bring your best self to any task. If you’re currently working on two or more goals, cut it down to one. I know it’s hard, but by picking a single, concrete goal you’re setting yourself up for the best chance of success.

Identify Exactly What’s Stopping You

When you try to get started on your project, what stops you? For one week, document the reasons why you avoid getting started. By playing the observer, you’ll tackle excuses blocking you and reveal opportunities to change in productive ways. Perhaps there’s a skill you need to learn in order to move forward. Or if you’re struggling with feeling tired when you sit down to work, you could try eating a snack or showering beforehand to wake up.

Get the Small Stuff Off Your Plate

It’s difficult to focus on a dream project when you’re inundated with emails and other requests. To create breathing room, try the “two-minute rule.” If something can be done in two minutes or less, do it now instead of putting it off. An amazing sense of accomplish can be created by scratching off quick tasks like making phone calls or answering emails of your list.

Get Off of Facebook

Want to sustain your motivation? Stop allowing yourself to get distracted! Every time you get a new message or notification, you lose focus and momentum. Turn off notifications from Facebook and Twitter, as well as silencing your cell phone, calendar, and email client. If you’re really daring, try disabling Wifi before diving into a big project.

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Work in Short Bursts

How many times have you said: “I’ll spend all [morning/afternoon] working on this,” only to find yourself distracted and disappointed in the end?

The human brain has a limited capacity for intense concentration, which taps out around 20-40 minutes, so make the most of your biology by working in short bursts. Grab a timer (do not use your phone—too easy to get distracted!) and set it for 15-20 minutes. Work non-stop until time runs out, then give yourself a 5 minutes break. Walk around, do some quick stretches, and repeat. Pretty soon you’ll have made major headway.


ps. If you’re ready to take back control of your time, rewire your digital habits, and live a more balanced life in just 30 days, check out my new mini-course REWIRE.

5 Foolproof Tips to Overcome Procrastination

Melody Wilding, LMSW

Melody Wilding, LMSW is a performance coach, licensed social worker, and has a Masters from Columbia. She helps established and rising managers and executives advance in their careers. Her clients work at companies like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, HP, and Deloitte. She also helps entrepreneurs take bold steps to grow their businesses. Melody has helped over 10,000 smart, self-aware people like you. Her coaching gives you actionable strategies to reach your goals. You get concrete steps to overcome the complex struggles of success. Melody loves arming ambitious people with tools and tactics to boost their confidence. She can teach you skills for assertiveness and influence. Her specialties include better managing your emotions at work. Melody also teaches Human Behavior at CUNY Hunter College in NYC. She writes about psychology and careers for Inc., Forbes, Fast Company, and more. Click here and grab the FREE COURSE to go from insecure to unstoppable confidence 5 DAYS TO FREEDOM FROM SELF-DOUBT..

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APA Reference
Wilding, M. (2018). 5 Foolproof Tips to Overcome Procrastination. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 3 Jun 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.