They say the most challenging part of any project is getting started, but the real test is getting the job to the finish line. Procrastination can happen before you even start a project, but it can also convince you to walk away indefinitely – even after you’ve started.
Although procrastination may seem completely justified at the time, putting off a task doesn’t make it go away. If you lack the motivation and discipline to turn your to-do list into a to-do list, try these procrastination tricks and stop getting in your own way.
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1. Start small
Better to do something than nothing. Choose small tasks on your to-do list that will only take a few minutes, like organizing one kitchen drawer. A victory, however small, may help trick your brain into thinking other ventures aren’t so scary. Once you start getting things done, you gain momentum, and then it becomes more manageable to continue with more projects.
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2. Find some friendly accountability
Doing something for yourself may not provide you with enough motivation. You may need a third party to keep you accountable for completing tasks. Having someone else invest in a project can help you become more productive, because you most likely want them to view you favorably.
This person does not need to be your project manager; There are other benefits of having them on while you work on your to-do list. In fact, some people find that they are better motivated to complete a task when they have an audience.
3. Use of technology
Download a productivity app or set a timer to keep you on task. The Engross app or stopwatch on your phone can be used for the Pomodoro technique — you can set a timer and work without distractions until the alarm sounds, earning you a short break. Set the alarm for a 5-minute break before another focused work session. The timer makes you aware of your limited window of action, helping you focus on the task at hand.
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4. Work on projects you enjoy
There is bound to be one item on your procrastination project list that you find fun or interesting. Dive into it. Choosing projects that bring you joy tends to increase your productivity. Fun tasks make progress easier, because reaching the project finish line provides motivation to continue on other projects.
5. Give yourself deadlines
Quite simply: there is no deadline and no motivation. In goal setting, they say achievable goals should be time bound, which makes hacking procrastination a no-brainer. By setting a strict deadline on a project—whether a deadline is required or not—you give yourself a little push to get it done.
Deadlines help create a sense of urgency and tension, which puts your brain into productivity mode. Home improvement projects tend to have open completion dates, so set those deadlines and get to work.
6. Reward yourself
What motivates you? A delicious dessert, watching your favorite show, a new energy workout? Create your own reward system for finishing projects on your to-do list, and enjoy the benefits it gives your brain. Reward yourself for every completed task.
Rewards increase dopamine and help create a positive feedback loop that your brain associates with completing tasks. You should start to feel better about completing tasks because you know you get a reward when you finish, which makes procrastination less likely.
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7. Create subtasks
Starting a huge project is a lot like staring down a mountaintop from sea level. It can be very daunting and can even scare you into starting work. To prevent that overwhelming feeling, break down large projects into small, manageable tasks. Sure, this procrastination hack makes your to-do list seem a lot longer, but these bite-size tasks are easy to complete and quickly add up to huge progress.
8. Make an actual to-do list
Stop keeping your to-do list in your head. Take a few minutes to write down everything you need or want to complete — remember to break down big tasks into smaller chores. Creating a to-do list that you keep in a convenient place lets you know what needs to be done to complete your projects. Once you start crossing off items from this list, your brain releases dopamine, which propels you forward, leaving procrastination in the dust.
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9. Change your environment
Procrastination is a prop when we’re doing something or when we have to be in a place we don’t particularly like. Make some changes if your workspace, garage, or other project area doesn’t look inviting. Keep a stash of your favorite snacks there, play an entertaining podcast, hang some decorations you love, or do whatever creates appeal to the area. Adding fun features to your workspace helps grab your attention, making it easier to make progress on your to-do list.
10. Consider project work as fitness
Home improvement projects can require a lot of effort, between lifting and carrying heavy items, running up and down stairs, or running around to locate everything you need. Completing some of these projects requires a lot of strength and physical fitness.
Instead of thinking of these projects as chores or to-do list items, this procrastination hack reframes the activity. For example, you don’t change tires; You’re working toward your fitness goals with strength training (it takes muscles to lift those tires off the ground). Putting a different spin on your to-do list can help give you some motivation to complete your tasks.
11. Consider some projects as self-care
There is usually a reason you should do every home improvement project on your list. They often influence your life for the better. For example, you’re not simply putting in new floors; You are creating a beautiful space for practicing yoga or meditation.
It’s not just about optimizing your space either. Certain chores can also improve your mental health, which can increase their importance on your to-do list. Repetitive tasks can also be healthy – painting a wall, sanding some wood, vacuuming or knitting can all help relieve stress and anxiety.
Related: 9 reasons why DIY is good for your well-being, according to science
12. A call for reinforcements
Sometimes, the best way to get something done is to contact a professional. Instead of trying to convince yourself that you can pick up the skill set for a particular home improvement chore, acknowledge that certain tasks may be out of your depth — and that’s okay.
Hire someone who can get the job done. Tasks covered by professional trades, such as plumbing and electrical work, should not be performed by an ordinary home builder. Employing certain jobs around the home ensures that they are not only done but done safely and properly.
Related: Can I DIY Home Improvement? Or should I hire a professional?
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