Ex-chronic procrastinators: how did you break your procrastination habit?

Hannah S Kim
43 replies
This seems to be an issue that many struggle with, for various reasons, ranging from the anxiety of starting, too many distractions, perfectionism, etc…. I used to procrastinate in school, but have realized that this habit still chases me at times as a working professional (meaning the consequences are heavier). Would really appreciate your feedback!

Replies

Maker, No-code enthusiast, Traveler
Don't look for "one" solution, there isn't one. Try and identify why you are doing it, dig in deep into the question. Identify all the excuses for not doing stuff and systematically fix them. Form new habits and break old ones. Your solution will be different from others, find what works for you. In short, read "Atomic Habits" by James Clear, build a system that works for you. Hope it helps.
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Community Manager
@zensiblesolutions Thanks Jason! Yes, great book.
digital marketer at Approveit
I personally just stopped fighting it. Procrastination is a way of our brain to tell us something. Instead, I started thinking critically - why am I procrastinating? Answering this question turned out to be harder than i thought. Top answer was "Because i don't want to do that at all". Next question - why don't I want to do that? I lack competence, I have things with higher priorities, I am scared to fail, I think it's pointless etc. And each answer has a solution. As a result, I now don't start a task unless I'm completely sure it's what i need to be spending my time on right now. Works for me:)
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CRO | Product Designer @ Swipepages
@katyaveremeichik This is such a great answer ! It is sometimes difficult to look past the negative connotation attached to something instead of discovering why we feel the way we do.
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Global #printhacking community connector
@katyaveremeichik great write up - similar to Tim Urban in this TED talk https://www.ted.com/talks/tim_ur...
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Founder, Developer at Crucial Human
@katyaveremeichik @pvantees Thanks for sharing this video. Watching it right now.
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Community Manager
@katyaveremeichik @pvantees One of my favorite TED talks of all time! :)
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Community Manager
@katyaveremeichik Thanks for the insightful comment, Katya! The key is mindfulness.
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Performance Marketing Specialist
I think in school, many of us procrastinate because of unclear objectives. Not many students are clear as to what they want to do in the future and what objectives (short-term and long-term) they'd like to achieve. Personally, I've broken out of my procrastination habit once I started working and had a career that I really like and was good at. I finally knew what I wanted to do in the long run and what goals I wanted to see realized.
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Product | Marketing manager
@james_gil That's right on point. Procrastination comes from the lack of motivation, and that comes from not seeing clearly the personal benefit of the work you have to do.
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Community Manager
@james_gil I agree, James. Although there are many reasons why people procrastinate, one is definitely lacking a clear purpose in your life.
Co-Founder @HomeWerk
BITE SIZE CHUNKS Don't try and do everything in a day - instead understand that small, bite-sized tasks done on a consistent basis will lead to better progress. This peace of mind massively reduces the pressure you put on yourself, which lead to procrastination. That alone is enough of a reward for me, but for some, you may actually want to reward yourself with something physical. If you look through my comment history you'll see I'm a big advocate of Pomodoro Time in measuring these bite-size tasks. You'll be amazed how much you can get done in 30mins if you stop f**king around and just focus.
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Community Manager
@nathansvirsky Thanks for the comment, Nathan. The Pomodoro defnitely works- there was a time when I was intimidated by 25-30 min work sessions, so I would set my timer for a 5 min mini work session, and that worked great as well!
Co-Founder @HomeWerk
@hannahsuyun Absolutely! It's all about allowing yourself to enter deep work mode - doesn't matter how long for. Once you see how much you can do it starts to get fun!
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Procrastination is a part of how our brain works, but there are many different types of procrastination and some of them are good and some bad. So it's important to proactively procrastinate like take a walk, brew a cup of coffee, read a book (when you should be working), even watch something valuable on youtube. To be in control of your procrastination the single best thing to do is to schedule it. Yes, really block 15-25 min every 2 hours to do nothing. It will help you concentrate and actually tell your brain to hold on a little more in anticipation of that procrastination break. I've researched a s*it ton of studies, best practices, tips, techniques while I'm building timeos.co and found that purposefully scheduling procrastination time and actually defining how you will procrastinate is a key for productivity and focused work.
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Community Manager
@roman_mishiev Roman, awesome advice! Never thought about actually scheduling my procrastination sessions- will try it out soon.
AI, travel, and dogs
I used to be THE master of procrastination! It was really hard to break this habit, I am not gonna lie. But here is my recipe to success: Reward over Punishment! (Just like dog-training 🐶) I started creating some kind of reward system for myself for getting things done to iterate that thrill and excitement after ticking a box in time! Step 1: Create time-bound check-lists ✅ ⏰ Step 2: Think of rewards that get you excited and going. (chocolate-tart, buying a new plant, a little dance party, etc. – whatever works for you 😉) Step 3: Actually reward yourself when getting something done in time and somewhat dwell in this thrilling sensation (yes, I was over-doing this big time in the beginning). 💃 Step 4: Reflect on these moments at the end of every day! 🌟 After a while, I felt the motivation to get things done right away, rooting from wanting to feel awesome and accomplished! Maybe this will help you, maybe it will inspire you to find your own recipe, maybe it won't do anything for you. No matter what – good luck! 🍀
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Community Manager
@rikki Thanks for the uplifting comment, Rikki! Reminds me of this TED talk I watched awhile ago:
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Go all in.
Acting. Seriously, it might sound dumb, but waking up in the morning with a goal to get done TODAY changed a lot of things.
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Community Manager
@jeff_noel Gotta fake it til you make it~
360º Marketing for Innovative Brands
As stated elsewhere, each cause for procrastination has its own response. First forgive yourself for being human, then identify the types or triggers of procrastination and the lie behind each. As an ADHD person, at times I need the deadline rush to trigger my hyper-focus rather than muddling along (for whatever reason). Having too much to do creates its own sort of procrastination out of necessity. Here's the advice I give new founders, whether you use a notepad or a project management tool, restrain yourself to 1-3 MUST DO items for the day in your ToDone List, track all the things you do (each serves as an interruption or distraction from your MUST DO; include mental, physical and emotional health issues if these are blockers). If you knock out your MUST DOs you can start on tomorrow's (have a plan for attack, rough approach) then knock out something from your backlog of tasks. In a matter of days you'll identify the patterns that drive your avoidance and productivity. Then find the lie that you're telling yourself that undermines what you intended to do, call it out, and reshape it into something truthful that empowers you to take action.
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Community Manager
@happy2smile247 This is a great comment, Stephanie! Really like the idea of MUST DO lists.
CEO at Logolivery.com
Interest Ask. Well, all people are lazy, but some are lazy in a good way, and some in a bad way. What is good laziness? Better to explain with an example. And so, I am a certain marketer who was given the task of launching an advertising campaign and I have a month to prepare and it is paid for. A good marketer with good laziness can prepare everything in half a month and do it efficiently so as not to spend half a month on edits. This is what good laziness is, when you are trying to make a high-quality product in real time, so that later it will be corrected and fixed less, and instead, good laziness allows you to cope with everything efficiently and quickly, and then just relax. High!
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Community Manager
@pavell2l This is an interesting perspective, Pavel! I guess in a way good laziness= being strategic and efficient haha.
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Product Developer
Healthy habits make a healthy life. This is obvious, but what I mean is that if you manage other issues that are easier to tackle for you personally, the rest will follow. I've never been as productive as I am when I keep on top of my healthy habits. I think the bad procrastination comes from your brain not working at it's maximum potential, and as the saying goes 'mente sana in corpore sano.'
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Community Manager
@marco_balbona Thank you for the insight, Mars!
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Product | Design | Films
Atomic Habits covers how to break out of this. But yes, small bites, asking "why" etc are key
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Product Launch Pro
I went broke. I got kicked out of my house and lived in my car for a couple of days. Then bounced around a little while on peoples couches and spare rooms until I could get a job temporarily. After a few weeks I decided to pick up things and work on my side project and take it more seriously. About a month later I started gaining some traction I am built it to a couple thousand dollars per month recurring revenue. Between that and the “temp job” I was able to dig myself out after about a year. Humiliation and hunger broke my procrastination. Hopefully that small little lesson can help somebody else ❤️
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Community Manager
@kensavage Wow, I would be interested in reading your book if you write it one day haha.
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Product Launch Pro
@hannahsuyun sure if you help me edit it.
Nocode, Works. So you don't have to.
Obviously there can be a multitude of mitigating circumstances for a single answer. But I find starting with small achievable tasks (whatever they are) early in the day and once I've done 3-4 of those (can be as small as unloading dishwasher, tidy desk drawer, answer one email) then all of a sudden the big things I was struggling to get on to just seem a lot more doable. Also having big things broken down in to lots of little things is important. I also start talking to someone else about the thing I need to get done and I find that shared perception of me 'just not getting on with it' seems to get things moving. I think everyone can and does procrastinate, I also know a lot of people who are chronically organised and not very productive. Swings and roundabouts.
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Community Manager
@adam_knight Thank you, Adam!
Web Designer/Publisher
I scheduled to put procrastination off for tomorrow. Let's see what happens.
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NAKA Marketing Consulting
Don't wait for perfect. Your version of perfect is not someone else's version of perfect. Done is better than perfect. Break the items down. I get overwhelmed with my ideas, I try to break it down into the smallest chunk and then accomplish that. Small mini-goals. Create good habits. Look up Tiny Habits by Fogg, changed my life.
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Community Manager
@giannidalerta Thank you Gianni! Will check out Tiny Habits.
Creating Value with Data and Drive.
Google Calendar, Keep Notes, and Endorphins (Going on Runs)
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Hello world!
Imagine a sense of accomplishment for accomplishing each task. 💪 Then feel charged up to do the next.
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Travel enthusiast & a marketing lover
Just do it. The how what, where, and why will come as soon as you start. Create realistic expectations for how long it will take you to complete a task and make use out of every minute. Also, find a "favorite way" of measuring progress, then take a look at it at the end of the day. Look forward to that moment.
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Founder and CEO of Keylitic
Just being very excited about what you're doing/making is what did it for me! I know that's oversimplified haha.
a nerd trying to make a $ outta 15 cents
A couple things worked for me. 1) I create short time boxed windows for doing work. Even 15 min is enough. Then 2) create specific tasks to do the things you use for procrastinating and time box them too. E.g. '20 facebook/instagram surfing'. '15 min bathroom cleanup' -- I tend to 'clean' my apartment whenever i procrastinate! so I basically let myself oscillate between time boxed activities of procrastination and real work. Eventually I get into a zone of real work, and keep going.