Need to GSD? 5 Tactics to Help You Beat Procrastination

published Apr 3, 2017
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

You have a huge new project to work on and your to-do list is lengthy, so no one can blame you if you’d rather be doing something totally different. But when you hit a creative wall, procrastinating isn’t going to help you meet your goals and deadlines.

Follow Topics for more like this

Follow for more stories like this

When you find yourself doing everything but what you need to get done and you just don’t know how to get back into your work, try these tactics—one or all of them just might make checking off those to-dos a little easier.

Set a Timer

The next time you catch yourself procrastinating, set a timer on your phone for 5 minutes. Allow yourself that extra 5 minutes to keep procrastinating however you want—whether you’re avoiding your work by picking up around your apartment, watching TV or reading a funny website. But when that timer goes off, shut it down and try to get back on track. That will give you time to finish doing (and relish in) whatever is distracting you so you can free up your mind to focus on what you really need to get done.

Break Up Your Work

If you’re procrastinating because there’s a mountain of work ahead of you, and the idea of jumping right back into it and working straight through until it’s done feels impossible to you, take a moment to (mentally and manually) break it up into smaller assignments or goals. Say the task you have to complete is writing 20 pages—instead of taking on the whole task, decide to finish 5 pages at a time to make it feel more doable. Have it in your mind that each time you hit that goal or finish that smaller assignment, you can take a short break (and use the timer trick!)— though you might find yourself motivated enough to push right on to the next part.

Reward Yourself for Progress

Speaking of taking short breaks, if you do find you need them, use them as a chance to reward yourself for actually hitting your goals and doing some of what you need to get done. Maybe your reward is watching that new video from your favorite YouTuber or a new music video from your favorite artist, maybe it’s a one-song solo dance party, maybe it’s a quick face mask break or your favorite snack—whatever works for you. If you don’t need smaller breaks to get you through, promise yourself something for when it’s all done.

Block Distracting Websites

If you can’t help but wander your way onto Twitter or Facebook when you should be working on something totally unrelated, try using an app to keep you from accessing the sites that distract you. SelfControl, for example, is an app for Mac OS X computers that can block anything on the internet that you don’t want to access for a set amount of time. Once you set the timer, nothing you do to get to those websites will work—not even restarting your computer. With all of your favorite procrastination destinations locked away, you’ll hopefully be able to focus on your to-do list instead.

Put Your Phone on Airplane Mode

Another way to beat serious distractions? Put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode (it won’t light up, ring or vibrate so you won’t see or hear every single notification). Or, if you’re still too tempted to check the screen to see if you have a new text, put it in airplane mode, so you can still use it for handy non-internet things (like using the calculator or leaving notes for yourself) but you don’t get notifications at all. Keep your phone like this until you’re done—you can always check it when you take those short breaks, but the point is you won’t have notifications going off to steal your attention away when you’re otherwise focused.