How do you overcome procrastination?

Derek Leiro
54 replies
Hey everyone! I am the developer of Lively, an app aiming to help procrastinators take back control of their lives through positive reinforcement, a first for productivity apps. In light of doing so, I was curious to know how some of you get around being productive and how you overcome procrastination. What has been your experience with procrastination and how did you overcome it?


Ani Morchiladze
Hello Derek, That sounds really cool, best of luck! There are two methods I've found helpful (neither is mine but rather a combination of many things I've read and watched on the subject). Firstly, you can have a horrible big task that you don't want to do so much that you end up doing all the other tasks - the idea is for that super-big task to both be very important but not super-urgent. Secondly, and this is more laborious and not straightforward approach, it's really important to cut down tasks to only those one really wants to do - otherwise, brain will never build up motivation to do the task. There's one more thing, which is less of a strategy and more of a small encouragement: there are different ways to track to-dos so I make sure to have one that's satisfying and to change them every now and again. For instance, I went through crossing out, checking the box, colour-coding for physical notes and various ways of marking what still needs to be done on emails.
I'd love to hear other people's approach to dealing with annoying admin tasks that need to be done, aren't that big & shouldn't take too long. I put 'renew kids passport' into my agenda this morning, but after 3 hours haven't yet started it. Maybe because it's not yet urgent?
Derek Leiro
@katerinabohlec we tend to not do things that are boring and don't have a deadline. One thing that has helped me out is our brains absolutely loove tasks that are simple and takes less thinking, our brains don't like the stress of thinking. And if the task is rewarding, your brain really has a good time and would like to do it 10 more times lol. If you can make the task soo simple, it becomes waayyy easier
@derek_leiro I think you are partly right. Getting the passport renewed meant I have certain documents ready and signed. Once this part is done, the task is easy.
Cica-Laure MbappΓ©
Hi Derek, happens to me sometimes. When I don't feel like completing a particular task, I work standing up, helps me focusing on my task and I sit down only when I'm done. I know it seems far fetched but it works for me. I also fight procrastination by breaking down my task into small pieces and when I finish one part I reward myself with a small treat πŸ˜„ Finally, I think that the best way to fight procrastination is to tackle the task as soon as it pops up! I hope this helps!
Derek Leiro
@cica_laure_mbappe yess! It helps alot to do when it pops up and simplifying the task. I definitely need to try the standing one πŸ˜‹
Christoph Paterok
I have found that the tasks I put off are often too big. My solution is therefore to cut large tasks into many small ones. I try to roughly estimate the time required for each task. Either 15 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour. If a task is over that, I divide it again into several smaller tasks. I do this with Tweek by @karlplaude1
Derek Leiro
@karlplaude1 @patte87 Breaking tasks into small chunks is by far the best advice! Task = too big, then more likely to put off. Thanks Christoph πŸŽ‰
Greg Ludvickson
I break things down into little goals. The smaller the better so it feels like I'm making progress on the overall goal. I also make to-do lists for those things so it's a physical representation of my accomplishments. Sometimes it's as small as, "buy new pens, call dad, etc." I Hope this helps.
Derek Leiro
@greg_ludvickson1 Yes! Big chunks are harder to digest than small chunks. And it is more effective and efficient too. Great advice GregπŸŽ‰
Eli Elfassy
I meditate every day and I ... Do lot of stuff I made a video about it on youtube .. 1. Meditaion five min (or more) 2. Yoga 10 min 3. sport. 4. cold shower.... And I am crazy.. Sorry.
Derek Leiro
@eli_elfassy Oh my gosh Meditation can be an absolute life changer. I use Medito or sometimes Atom. They are both on Product hunt πŸ™ŒπŸΎ and great options. Really is relaxing as well as sports and yoga. Cold showers though πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I can never! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
Divide and Conquer - break larger tasks into smaller units - thereby eliminating how daunting the task seems.
Hugo P.
What I usually do is rewarding myself for any task that I'm struggling to do. Just buying myself a new cloth or the latest video game. Procrastination is just a problem in Benefit/Cost balance, with a reward (that should be certain, you really have to promise yourself that you will get the reward if the task is done) you can change this balance so that the benefits overweight the costs. It can sound childish but it really worked for me 😁
Derek Leiro
@hugo_pochet1 Yes, we are in the same boat on that one. Lively is exactly meant for this where, someone is virtually rewarded/appreciated when even a simple task is done. It's called positive reinforcement and it is really effective. People learn better when encouraged, than criticized. Well said HugoπŸŽ‰
musa usman
The best way to overcome proscastination is to become a doer. Follow your words with actions, you might not get it right immediately but it is important to start the journey and continue to iterate until it becomes better. Without consistency and discipline, you will never reach the finish line. Do it now, fail fast, learn from mistakes and move on to the next experiment.
Erin McCune
Reading through the other comments and thinking it through-- you've probably already thought about this, but some kind of way to identify the "important, non-urgent" tasks that we NEED to do but also keep putting off-- and then helping users either a) break down those tasks into something more manageable and/or b) set aside time to get them done. Think about the number of people who say "I've been putting off X and stressing about it for months and months and then it really only took me [some small amount of time]"
Derek Leiro
@erininpdx Yeah, the take away is to have manageable tasks broken down to be simple enough to do. I think that's what many people in the discussion agree on πŸ₯³πŸŽŠ
Hi, I just try to fix small goal and daily objectif. Procrastination hit me hard when I've too much work (not necessarily urgent) and can't get over it. So, small goal help me achieve task daily and re-strating a good mood :)
Aryon Sunrise Hopkins
Lists. Lists to manage my lists. Throwing out all the lists and starting fresh. I used to procrastinate much more when I was younger so there is an aspect of maturation and being more responsible to myself and my team. Working on small teams also prevents procrastination as it elevates my accountability to others.
Alex Barlow
I feel the pain when I am designing I can get caught in a world of Procrastination. This did not happen working for agencies as time pressures and account handlers nagged me into action, managed budgets etc. Operating as a start-up I have learnt small goals with achievable output. Output has to be realistic, cost effect and the fastest solution. If you nail defining output you can become super productive.
Meng Wee Tan
I try to put the task into a reminder list, and look at it from time to time to remind myself the urgency.
Derek Leiro
@mengwee To do lists & reminders can go a very long way to increase productivity. It just needs consistency and self discipline. Well said Meng πŸŽ‰
Dave Newmuis
These are really great 'practical' answers, and most responses have tips that I use to stay organized, but my mind wanders on a regular basis and procrastination is always right behind it. My secret weapon to getting work done is to artificially create a sense of urgency and make myself emotionally invested in getting something done. I like to take a 10 minute shower and let myself give in to temporary relaxation. I'm grateful I can work from home and this is possible. Since I work at the computer nearly all day, having the warm water against my closed eyes feels the same as stretching my legs before a run. Second (and this isn't for everyone) I listen to David Goggins describe what it was like for him to run a 100 mile race in order to qualify for an even tougher race... It's stories of adversity, whether Goggins or another, that help remind me of my own journey to be where I am today. Sitting with those memories in a relaxed environment, with proper music to accentuate the emotion, is a game changer to change your emotional state. The best part for me is that I'm in the shower and literally can't work, and so the urgency of needing to get work done arrives, but there's no panic as tasks return to my mind. If you're like me, then as tasks meet the memories in your journey, suddenly you'll feel as though the hardest thing you'll ever have to do in life- you've already done, and an equalizing perspective will allow you to feel equal to the next tasks ahead. While Goggins isn't always who I choose to listen to, the right music has the same impact; adding -controlled- emotion into my work day is the only solution that's worked for me. I run my own company using our own software, but whichever tools you use to complete your work; procrastination is mainly an issue of your thoughts and your emotions, and so your strategy for procrastination has to influence these areas first, the rest will follow.
Nova N.
Music is the best medicine :)
Hannah S Kim
A question that never gets old. For me a tip that has helped is setting a 5 minute timer. I tell myself I'll just work on a task that I dread for 5 minutes, and that is it. A lot of times, I end up working way past the 5 minute mark. I think the issue for me is getting started on a task and getting over that initial anxiety hump.
Derek Leiro
@hannahsuyun That is so true Hannah. The biggest issue is always starting. You got to reach for the ball and toss it. Even if you fail to hit the mark and go back to procrastinating, failure is often the best evidence you are tryingπŸ™Œ. Great advice! πŸš€
Nathan Svirsky
Here are a couple of things I do 1) Use a Pomodorro timer to set myself 25 minute chunks where I just have to focus on the problem - it's amazing how much you can do in 25mins without any distractions. 2) Stop giving a fuck. Be okay with less than perfect. The number one blocker is feeling overwhelmed and stuck in perfection paralysis. Just get it done and worry about polishing it up later. Good luck!
Alexa Vovchenko
From my experience, I procrastinate when I'm either tired or there's a duty/task that I avoid accomplishing. It's important to realize the true reason behind your actions. When I'm tired, I can go to sleep or read some piece of fiction. If I try to avoid a task, I'm laying down on the bed for 15 min and just stare into the ceiling. After doing literally nothing it's easier to get back to action.
Himanshu Sharma
I'm a big procrastinator. What works for me is 1. Breaking down the big project into small manageable tasks 2. Pomodoro time ( 3. Tackling one difficult first and then a few small tasks.
Derek Leiro
@heman_shu Small chunks are easier to digest than big chunks, manageable tasks is definitely the way to goπŸ™Œ. Could I advice with starting with the easy tasks? It is definitely rewarding when you knock down the easy tasks and can motivate you to keep going to the hard tasks. The harder tasks may demotivate you as you start out and can be discouraging when not much progress is made during the Pomodoro time. So the easy-to-hard method can be very helpful πŸš€. And remember to always reward yourself for every completed task no matter how easy it was! πŸ˜ƒ Positive reinforcement is a great way to learn new skills/habitsπŸ™Œ