Let me be incredibly honest for a second. I secretly dream of being the most productive person I know. In fact, I even told my S.O. that the other day and he looked at me with a confused look on his face, and said, “What does that even mean?”
Good question, right? After reflecting on this question, I found my own definition of productivity. To me, it means that I focus on producing results instead of equating productivity with time spent working.
I would much rather complete a couple key projects in a week, then claim I worked 50 hours and didn’t actually finish any of my needle-mover tasks. So, here are my top 5 ways to beat procrastination once and for all.
Focused work, frequent breaks Sometimes the most effective solutions are also the simplest. The pomodoro technique completely transformed the way I work. And it’s free.99 so you don’t have to worry about an expensive piece of software.
Here’s how it works. Grab your phone timer or a kitchen timer. Set the timer for 25 minutes. Then for 25 minutes work on one task (focus on this one thing!). Then when the timer beeps, set it again for 5 minutes, and take a short little break.
If you are finding that 25 minutes isn’t enough time to focus on a task full force, increase it to 30. Then slowly build up to a time that works best for you, but make sure you’re taking breaks. I find that for me personally, a solid 35 minutes of work time and 5-10 minute breaks work wonders.
I prefer having an external timer instead of on my phone, because I’m super prone to distraction and might just find myself on Instagram scrolling wanderlessly. This little cube timer is incredible. It costs ~$18 and is worth every penny if it helps you produce.
MIT = Most Important Tasks
Prioritization is super hard when you have competing priorities. But by using the 3 MITs (most important tasks), you’re forcing yourself to focus in on what really matters and prioritize what is most important and timely and what can wait.
Here’s how it works. Hone in on the three things you need to accomplish today. If you are focusing in on only 3 things, you’re much more likely to get those done and feel productive in the process.
Most people have a running to-do list of things that need to be accomplished and end up checking off one or two small things that don’t actually move the needle and get you closer to truly producing results.
So before you open your email, jump on social media, or touch your computer, write down three things that you need to complete today. I write these on a sticky note and put them on my laptop. That way I can check them off when they are completed and be reminded of my MITs.
Extra credit if you set your 3 MITs the night before, but I rarely do that.
I get most of my ideas and reminders in the shower. I use my shower notes as a way of jotting down the important (and unimportant) stuff that comes to mind. A lot of times, when I hop out of the shower, I have my 3 MITs already ready to go so I can immediately go downstairs and make my coffee, eat breakfast and get to work.
Your personal mantra
Mantras seem super woo-woo, but I find a lot of people already use mantras without even realizing it. Mantras are the little words of wisdom, affirmation, or quotes you tell yourself to get you to take action. When you say, “I’ve got this!” or “I can do it!,” that’s basically a mantra.
Here’s how it works: Next time you find yourself procrastinating, or pondering Netflix vs. the gym, pull out your mantra and repeat it three times to yourself. Repetition is key to habit change.
My personal mantra is “Do it now! Do it now! Do it now!” =I will legitimately say this aloud (if I’m by myself) or in my head and it is my trigger to start working and focus on taking immediate action.
Don’t knock it until you try it. But also try it more then one time– as I mentioned earlier, repetition is the secret to change and one the ways to beat procrastination.
5-second rule No, this isn’t the amount of time that you can drop food and the ground and still be able to eat it. It’s a super simple way to force yourself to take action even when you don’t want to. It was made mainstream by author and motivational speaker Mel Robbins.
Here’s how it works. When we count down to ourselves, we pay attention and prep our bodies to take action. Mel discovered this while watching TV one night as a rocket ship was launching. She noticed that they counted down– 5….4….3…2…1 and immediately launched.
After realizing that, she decided to try this in her own life to help her wake up in the morning without pushing snooze. She heard the alarm go off, counted 5-4-3-2-1 and launched out of bed without pushing snooze. It worked. Then she used it for job hunting, working, going to the gym. And it worked.
I’ve tested this in my own life and it really does work if you do it. It’s very different than counting up from 1-5, tool. When you countdown, because there isn’t a number that we naturally go to after 0, you are more likely to take that action. I’m not a behavioral psychologist here, but the concept really does have some legs. I find myself going back to it quite a bit.
Limit Your Time on Social Media
You guys, no joke, I’ve found myself browsing Instagram/Facebook sometimes and looking up to see that I legitimately spent 2 HOURS mindlessly scrolling. WTF? Two hours is a lot of time to just waste when my goals are as big as they are. I have a feeling you’ve been there too. Why do we do this to ourselves?
I find that I have to almost treat myself like a teenager and put some parental controls in place. It’s ridiculous, but hey- this is where I am. It’s one of the best ways to beat procrastination.
Here’s how it works. To limit social media time, it’s important to know where you’re starting. Most iPhones now come equipped with Screen Time so you can see exactly how many hours and minutes you spent on your browser, email, social media, etc. It’s super helpful…and slightly depressing!
Set a goal for yourself. My personal goal is to be on social media less than 2 hours a day. This seems like a lot, but keep in mind, I run an online business and social media is a huge part of my marketing channels.
Set a goal for yourself too. How much time do you feel comfortable spending on social media per day? Do you want to check your platforms in the morning (this is a rhetorical question- of course you don’t want to see the world’s nastiness first thing in the morning)? How often do you find yourself reaching for your phone out of habit rather than necessity?
Now some barriers and use the other tips above to help you stick with your planned social media time.
Need some extra help?This chrome extension removes all your FB newsfeed and gives you a nice inspirational quote on your FB feed. It’s really helpful!
You can also remove the apps from your phone. If you just got anxiety thinking about this, it’s probably a good sign you should do it temporarily. Remember- you can always add it back on your phone if you hate it.
You can also try this StayFocusd chrome extension, which allows you to block certain websites and social media feeds during set hours of the day.
If you’re interested in connecting with Whitney Hansen for one-on-one coaching, reach out here. If you want to hear more from her, check out this episode featuring Whitney on the Nav.it podcast.
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