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Beating Procrastination: 72 Successful People Reveal their Most Powerful Tips

01/25/2016 04:30 pm ET | Updated Jan 25, 2016
  • Peter Banerjea Co-Founder of SuccessIsWhat, a productivity and success coaching firm.

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Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow?

"This isn't important right now, I will get to it later."
"This is too difficult, let's keep it for next week."
"I need to be in the right mood."
"I work better under pressure."

It comes in various forms (as above), but it has one name. Procrastination: a universal troublemaker and the single biggest productivity killer. Something which can severely impact your professional success, future income and even your health and happiness.

How do successful people beat procrastination?

The fact is that human beings have a tendency to procrastinate or delay. Successful people know this and therefore they make sure that they don't fall into that trap.

To know more about how successful people keep procrastination at bay, I decided to ask a question:

"What's your number ONE method for overcoming/avoiding procrastination?"

I got answers from more than 70 globally-renowned experts - bestselling authors, entrepreneurs, productivity experts, coaches and top bloggers. These people have jointly impacted millions of people from all over the world through their books, blogs, podcasts, software products, courses, coaching, seminars and more.

Because this post is an uniquely valuable resource, I have created a Free PDF of this post for you. "You can download your Free PDF here.

Over to our Featured Experts:

Here's what they have to say:

Guy Kawasaki

Chief Evangelist at Canva (Former chief evangelist of Apple)

"I look at the total of my kids' four tuitions."

Neil Patel

"Anytime you have a task, just get it done right then and there. The moment you put something off, you create a habit of it and it will all start adding up."

Mike Vardy

Productivity Strategist and Founder of Productivityist

"I find that attaching the mode I need to be in, to complete a task, really steers me away from regular procrastination (or the bad type of procrastination). Every task I put on my list has to have a mode attached to it - and those modes can be either very broad and general (Founder Mode, Father Mode), resource-based (Outlook Mode, Evernote Mode), energy-based (High Energy Mode, Low Energy Mode), activity-based (Blogging Mode, Planning Mode), or time-based (5 Minute Mode, 25 Minute Mode). That way instead of working by project or my schedule, I can work by mode which keeps me in a better state of flow and moving things forward on a consistent basis."

Darren Rowse

Founder of Problogger

"The thing that has helped me the most is designing my ideal weekly schedule. I used to flip from one activity to another each day based upon what I was feeling was urgent or what I had energy for but realised that many times that didn't take me closer to my ultimate goals. So I asked myself what activities I need to do each week to get to my goals and designed a weekly schedule around that. Now I have a roadmap of what I need to do every day.

As a result procrastination is less of an issue because I know what I'm doing. I also know that these activities are directly related to achieving my goals and so have more motivation to get things done. As Stephen Covey once wrote: 'The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities'."

Michael Sliwinski

Founder and CEO of Nozbe and Productive! Magazine

"My best way to overcome procrastination is the 'Pomodoro Technique' and 'Unschedule Calendar'. This basically means I just put a timer for 25 minutes and start doing only one task. This time pressure and single focus helps me get back on track and get into my productivity rhythm. On bad days I spend most of my days like this."

Erik Fisher

Author and Productivity Podcaster at Beyond The ToDo List

"The best way to avoid procrastination is to have a default answer of 'No' ready for all new tasks. Only letting the tasks into your system that you know you want to do or absolutely have to do is the first step to making sure you don't put them off. Set up time to prioritize what you will allow in to your calendar and commitments. Even after having a more finely curated to-do list, procrastination may occur.

The next step to beat it is to break down the task into the smallest possible pieces. Often procrastination stems from lack of perspective of either the end goal, what can be done now and what should be done next. Breaking projects down into their smallest form makes them more manageable, and it often becomes clearer which step is next."

Amir Salihefendic

CEO of Todoist

"Try to split big projects into manageable chunks of maybe 1 hour tasks. This will allow you to estimate the total time involved more accurately. Plus, you'll see your progress as you check off each task."

Thanh Pham

Managing Director at Asian Efficiency

"Tell yourself the magic phrase: "I will just do X for 2 minutes". When you give yourself permission to only do something for 2 minutes and then stop, you trick yourself to do it. What usually happens is that you'll get started and then when the 2 minutes are over, you want to keep going. As you do this more often, you can increase it to 5 minutes, to 10 minutes and eventually an hour. It works every time whenever I feel like procrastinating."

John Lee Dumas

"We procrastinate when we don't have a strict schedule to adhere to. As Parkinson's Law states, 'Tasks will expand to the time allotted'. I would add 'and procrastination will fill in the blanks'."

Tony Stubblebine

CEO and Founder of Coach.me

"Meditation! Meditation is pushups for the mind and procrastination is just your mind being weak. So, you can either cry about procrastination or do mental pushups. The actual mechanism is that meditation teaches awareness and control (also calm, but that doesn't matter for this use case).

Procrastination happens normally at your subconscious level. You're avoiding something. A strong meditator will take a deep breath, bring their awareness onto the tiny feeling that they're avoiding, laugh at the feeling, and then put their focus back towards doing real work."

Lori Deschene

Founder of Tiny Buddha

"The first and most crucial step is to get to the root of why I'm procrastinating. I may be scared of doing something outside my comfort zone. Or perhaps because something is new to me, I don't know where to start. Or I'm overwhelmed by what seems like a massive undertaking, so I tell myself I'll get to it later. Or the task requires me to reach out to others, and I'm scared of looking ignorant or being rejected.

Once I understand why I'm procrastinating, I can then develop a plan to overcome that specific issue. From there, it's all about breaking the goal into tiny, manageable steps and then putting them on my daily to-do lists. I'm incredibly type-A, which means I have a pathological need to complete my to-do list. If it's on there, and if it's possible to complete it, I will get it done."

Liam Martin

Co-founder of Time Doctor

"Not to be self-promotional but use TimeDoctor. Specifically, the feature that will automatically give me a popup when I go to a website that doesn't connect with the task I was supposed to do. If I set a task like writing a blog post, Time Doctor will give you a popup if you go to Facebook. It's a simple reminder to kick me back into flow state focus if I get distracted and try to procrastinate. Eliminating distractions is the key to staying productive, if you can get rid of them you win."

Chris Bailey

"My number one method for overcoming procrastination is to use procrastination as a trigger to fire up the logical part of my brain. The research around procrastination shows that it is a purely visceral, emotional reaction to an aversive task you have to do, and that firing up the logical part of your brain -- like by making a list of the costs of procrastinating, or thinking about what parts of the task are so aversive to you -- can help more than anything."

Sean Ogle

Founder of Location 180

"The number one thing I do to get over procrastination is take one small step. If I'm trying to motivate myself to go for a run, I immediately put on my running shoes. If I'm trying to write a blog post, I open up a text doc and write one sentence. The hardest part of anything is starting, and 9 times out of 10 if I start I can carry myself through and get a lot done. That other one time, where I still can't do anything? That's when I know I should just go do something fun and try again later."

Glen Long

Managing Editor at Boost Blog Traffic

"I do have one trick I use if I realise I'm procrastinating about a task. Usually it's a task that's important but not urgent (yet) and not particularly interesting or fun - which is probably why I'm putting it off!

What I do is to take some small, easy action that doesn't actually progress the main task, but increases its urgency or the pain of further procrastination. So for instance if I've been putting off doing some research, I might promise to share the results of the research with my boss in our next meeting. That promise takes a few second to make, but the effect is that I've manufactured some urgency for a task that wasn't actually urgent (just important)."

Steven Aitchison

Author, CEO and Founder of Change Your Thoughts - Change your life

"I have tried many things in the past to get work done: to-do lists, diarying the stuff that I need to do, Pomodoro. However, the best thing I have found so far is the 'Just in Time' method of working. You know there is a task to do by a certain date. Two days before the date you spend all your time getting it done, depends on how big the task is of course.

For instance, I had a program where I needed to make 15 videos. I would normally do this over a span of 3-4 weeks. However, I spent 2 days, before the program went live, and completed the videos. This way you've got pressure, you've got a commitment, and you've got the added bonus of not overthinking things, you get out of your own way and just get it done."

Scott H Young

"Have good habits and a system to organize your tasks."

Erin Falconer

Editor-in-Chief and Co-owner of Pick the Brain

"Success is nothing but ideas in action. The thing that differentiates those who succeed in life from those who don't, is not the notion of having 'the perfect idea', but in doing the work to have a good idea see the light of day. This involves a lot of trial and error, but more than anything, it involves a lot of hard work, persistence and the ability to fail and try again. Naturally, in the face of all of this work and the fear of failure, procrastination often prevails. What to do?

The biggest tip I have for fighting procrastination is to hold yourself accountable. Write it down. Make a plan. Have daily, weekly and monthly goals. Be honest about what you are achieving and where you are slacking. Adjust the plan accordingly. In short, take action. Thinking about doing something, is simply not doing it."

Charlie Gilkey

"Procrastination is always a sign that something deeper is at play. So rather than address top-level hacks and methods, I always go deeper to why the project matters. Look for the why before you look for the how because where there's a strong why, there's a simple how. (Simple ≠ easy)"

Evan Carmichael

Entrepreneur, Coach and Founder of Evancarmichael.com

"Have goals and do work that you are passionate about."

Jeff Sanders

Author, Public Speaker and Host of The 5 AM Miracle Podcast

"My number one method for avoiding procrastination is to schedule my biggest, scariest task first thing in the morning. My normal morning routine includes exercise and other healthy habits, but I will bump those activities and replace that time with work time if the job needs to get done.
I do whatever I can to prioritize my urgent and important tasks early in the day and intentionally postpone any task that isn't necessary in the moment. It takes practice to know what to choose, but when I ask myself, "What's important now?", I almost always know the answer."

Todd Henry

"My biggest method is to end with the beginning in mind. Whenever I'm working on a long-arc project, I always end every work session knowing where I'll pick up the next day. I don't procrastinate because I want to avoid the work, I often do it because I'm uncertain of the right next step. This tactic keeps me from getting stuck."

Jörgen Sundberg

Founder and CEO of Link Humans and Undercover Recruiter

"Sometimes it can feel like you're juggling a million and one things at a time. When you're feeling overwhelmed, it is worth separating all your tasks, correctly prioritising each one and then resuming action. Doing this can clear things up in your mind and leave you feeling less overwhelmed."

Johnny B Truant

Author, Articulator and Story Machine at Realm & Sands

"I know it's trite, but you just have to do it. Know when you're personally most productive and then plan the things that can't be procrastinated for those times.
Everyone sometimes likes to slack off, but if you don't at some point have the fortitude to just do the damn work, I'd wager you're working on the wrong projects, or for reasons that don't truly move you."

Neen James

Attention Expert at Neenjames.com

"Procrastination is a gift. It allows you an opportunity to assess if you are the right person to work on that task or strategy. Overcoming procrastination only takes 15 minutes. If you are really avoiding something you need to ask yourself: Is this something I MUST do?

If the answer is no, determine can you delete it or delegate it. If you can delete it that's fabulous. If you can delegate it, who is the best person to outsource it to?

If the answer is yes you must do it, set the alarm on your smartphone and work on it for 15 (dedicated) minutes. Your 15 minutes might include creating a 'to do' list of all the items that need to be completed, making a phone call to seek additional information or help, researching more information or just getting it done.

15 minutes is the key to productivity. It is a small amount of time and when you focus on the activity or task you are procrastinating you can often feel lighter by completing it."

Steve Scott

Author and Founder of Develop Good Habits

"My favorite method of avoiding procrastination is to set micro goals. People procrastinate because the goals seem too daunting. For example, "write a book" can seem like a monumental task, but when you break it down to its component parts it quickly becomes more manageable. Research, outline, rough draft, write chapter one, write chapter 2 (etc.), polish draft, edit.... it becomes a lot easier taking things piece-by-piece.

If you break the tasks down and still find that you procrastinate, you can break them down even further. Eventually the tasks get so simple that it seem ridiculous to put them off."

Andrea Loubier

CEO of Mailbird

"Creating a to-do list, starting a timer like Pomodoro or Time Doctor or Rescue Time to time how long it takes to complete that task - forcing you to stop all other distractions and focus and just get it done. Many other things demand your attention like emails, social messaging, mobile messaging...but making yourself focus forces you to shut off all those things you force yourself to not be distracted."

Mark Shead

Founder of Productivity501

"My number one method for avoiding procrastination is ... just don't do it. Sound crazy? My point is that you may have hundreds of things you could be doing and some of those things inspire procrastination. So take a moment and ask yourself what would happen if you just didn't do some of those things.

Are there any serious repercussions? If not, maybe you should just skip it? Just because it seemed like a good idea when you wrote it down, doesn't mean it is still worth your time. You only have so much time in your life. Is this task really worth doing--especially since you obviously don't really want to do it.

Now, obviously, you can't just stop doing everything. I'm not recommending that you not file your taxes just because you've been procrastinating on them. However, most people have a large list of things that they are trying to do and a good percentage of them really don't need to be done.

If you get the items that you don't want to do and aren't really necessary out of the way, it is much easier to focus on the things that are really important. It is much easier to fight procrastination on 5 items that are really important than on 100 items where 95 don't matter. And if you find yourself procrastinating on some things in your shortened to-do list of critical items, refer to some of the other great ideas in this post."

Paula Rizzo

"I'm a huge procrastinator. No one ever believes it but I am. The one thing I do is chunk out my time into short time spurts. So I'll give myself 10 minutes to start a project and time myself. That way I figure "it's only 10 minutes" and I can get a good start on it.

You can really do anything for 10 minutes. Usually at the end of that 10 minutes I'm in the groove and can continue working. Or I take a break for 15 mins and repeat the process."

Tim Brownson

"As a coach procrastination is one of the most technically difficult things to deal with as the reasons for it are not always obvious and there are usually more than one. However, there is usually one commonality and that is people (including me when I do procrastinate) are focussing on what they don't want such as the pain of the work, rather than what they do - long-term achievement and the satisfaction of doing meaningful work. And when I say their focus is in the wrong place that can also be on the goal itself, rather than the underlying reason for setting it.

Goals that aren't in alignment with our core values and what is really important to us at a deep level, aren't really worthy goals. Therefore, I remind myself of my values and what it's like to be in alignment with them rather than dwelling on any short-term pain or discomfort."

Ruben Gamez

Founder of Bidsketch

"I build momentum by doing a micro work session. Basically, if I notice that I'm putting something off I tell myself, "Ok, I can do other things after I do just 5 minutes of work on X. At least move forward on it and then I'm free to work on something else today".

What ends up happening is that after 5 or 10 minutes it's actually hard to stop, so I keep going. And on the rare occasion that I want to stop after a few minutes, I go ahead and move on to something else. But 99% of the time I end up making big progress on (or finishing) the thing I'm putting off."

Sarah Peterson

Founder of Unsettle

"My #1 method for overcoming or avoiding procrastination is making myself accountable to others. Unfortunately, I'm somebody who needs external accountability - this is something that I've discovered about myself. So I make commitments to others, whether they're clients or coaches or accountability partners - to make sure that I don't procrastinate."

Scott Sind

Chief Thought Provoker at Activate Thought

"I don't believe that all procrastination is bad. I listen to my body. When I catch myself fidgeting and not working it's usually because I need a break. So I employ positive procrastination -- go for a walk, read a little, take a power nap. When I come back to the work it's easier to focus.

I think if I never allowed myself to procrastinate I'd become far less productive. That said, for critical tasks that I must do, I try to get them out of the way early in the day. I'm usually far more mentally alert and active first thing in the morning, so I do all the things I KNOW I won't do later."

Sue Anne Dunlevie

"To combat procrastination, I use the 80/20 rule. I try to eliminate as many tasks as possible by asking myself - "Is this an income producing activity?" Once you focus on just the top 20%, everything else is easier because you know exactly what you need to do. This has really helped to eliminate less important tasks that can promote procrastination and are not productive."

Anthony Metivier

Author and Memory Expert at Magnetic Memory Method

"Harnessing the power of boredom can make all the difference for overcoming procrastination. In this case, the boring activity I use the most is meditation. It works because it creates greater awareness of what you're doing and what you're not doing. It also helps you understand why you're procrastinating because meditation creates deep insight about your true motivations and authentic inner drive.

The only trick is in not procrastinating on meditating, which having a meditation journal on the floor beside your bed along with a blanket that you will either sit on or trip over solves.

There are two ways to approach meditation: First, as Alan Watts teaches, sit just to sit. This tactic eliminates the burden of trying to clear your mind or trying to do anything other than sitting. Inevitably, you'll come into awareness and realize that you have been sitting there lost in thought. That's when true observation of yourself begins, and it will land sooner and with greater addictive longevity.

Second, as Tim Ferriss has suggested, if you set a clock to meditate, always set it to a time less than you think you can accomplish. So if you think you can meditate for 10 minutes, set your timer to 7 minutes. To Ferriss's advice, I've added the "sit a little longer" principle. To do this, after your alarm rings, shut it off and keep sitting for whatever amount of time suits you. It could be 30 seconds more or even an additional 20 minutes. It's up to you. Often what happens is that you come into deeper awareness in the add-on."

Mark S. Babbitt

President and CEO of YouTern | President of SwitchandShift

"My number one method for overcoming procrastination is to form a vision of what a successful day looks like. I ask myself: "At the end of this day, how will I know I'm done?"
More than a "to-do list", this vision includes exactly what I need to do to make this day a success. It also helps me keep focused on the most critical tasks of the day, rather than spending time on stuff that feels good... but ultimately doesn't matter as much."

Tor Refsland

"Avoiding procrastination is like trying to avoid tiredness in the morning when you have lack of sleep - its a constant fight. That being said, it doesnt mean that it cant be done. Here are some powerful routines and habits that can keep the procrastination monster at bay:

Planning
Experts say every minute spent in planning saves you 10 minutes in execution. Want to become super productive? Then know exactly which tasks to work on at any given time. Plan one week ahead. This saves a ton of time. You will go from responding to other peoples requests to having control over your schedule. If one week in advance is too difficult, spend at least 15-30 minutes planning your day the night before.

Using a master to-do list
Maintain one to-do list (aka your master to-do list.) It should contain all the activities that you need to do. The activities that aren't included in your master to-do list, wont get done. When you plan your activities in your master to-do list, its important that you prioritize your tasks using the ABCDE method

A tasks you must do today, if not they will give you serious consequences
B tasks you should do today, if not they will give you mild consequences
C tasks you could do today, if not they will give no consequences
D tasks you delegate
E tasks you eliminate.

When you start your work day, start with your A tasks, which are your most important tasks. The real trick is to never do a B task before you have completed all your A tasks, and never do a C task before you have completed all your B tasks. By following this system you will be working at your most income generating tasks at any given time.

Removing distractions
When you are working on very important tasks, you should isolate yourself, if possible, so you wont get disturbed. In addition, turn off / mute your phone and turn off your Wi-Fi (if your task doesnt require you to be online).

Focusing on only one task (until its done)
No multitasking. Just focus on one single task until its done. If there is an important task that cant be completed in the time you have available, break it down into smaller pieces."

Henneke Duistermaat

"I've not found one particular method that always overcomes procrastination. I need a portfolio of tactics to keep me moving on. One big one is to dedicate the first hour of my day to doing difficult work. I do this in two sessions of 25 minutes before breakfast.

Another method is to block out distractions. It's easy to procrastinate when tweets and emails are flying around. So I close down my browsers and do the work. I don't rely on willpower or discipline, I simply make it harder for myself to get distracted. Lastly, I tell myself it's okay to write something shitty. I only have to get started. I'm fooling myself a little. Usually, once you get started, the work somehow gets done."

Ellen Bard

Founder of EllenBard.com

"My number one tip for overcoming procrastination is to make sure you have clearly defined what the task is. Split the 'doing' from the 'defining.' When we try to combine spelling out the task with doing it, we can get lost. Procrastination occurs as the ambiguity of the task is too much for our brain to handle, and we make up reasons to avoid it instead. To avoid this, I would suggest just making sure you're clear (a la David Allen) 'what the next action is'.

For instance, I need a Chinese visa. But writing that on my list as a task is ambiguous, and I don't even know where to start as there are many steps involved in getting the visa. So writing 'get Chinese visa' on my list is unhelpful. Instead, I've broken it down, usually starting at the end point and working backwards, so I can concentrate on the next step. For example, I need to collect the appropriate paperwork, but before that, I need to look up the visa requirements on the website.
To do that, I need to find the website, and so on.

This also has the effect of breaking the task down into manageable chunks (so you can 'eat the elephant'), and helps you to concentrate on just one action at a time (because the more you multi-task, the less you get done)."

John Yeoman

Founder of Writer's Village

"My #1 method for avoiding procrastination is to make a little list each night, on a special pad, of the things I must do next morning, prioritized in order of importance. (For example, 'write 1000 good words'.) The last item on the list is always: 'make a new list'. As I tick the important ones off, I feel a great glow of satisfaction and when I make a new list for the next day I go to bed in a haze of bliss.

Seriously, that's how I do it."

Bryan Collins

"My number one method for overcoming procrastination is to harness the power of small daily wins. Instead of putting over the work for days at a time and then trying to cram it all into several hours at night or over a weekend, work on your most important projects for half an hour first thing each day.
If you do this first thing (you're going to have to get up earlier!), you are less likely to procrastinate because our willpower is at its best when we are well rested.

And if you do this every day, you will make small but determined progress towards your goal.
When all else fails plug out your modem and turn off your phone. Oh, and read the War of Art by Steven Pressfield."

Farnoosh Brock

Founder and President of Prolific Living

"Clarity. Getting clarity over what is holding me back is always the first step. If I'm sitting at my desk on a Tuesday afternoon, wondering what I need to do, I know it's because I may not have clarity as to which goal I need to work on and which next outcome I want to create. That's the least obvious and most important factor in my own procrastination.

Of course, there are other factors too, such as being too tired. Most of us don't get enough rest. Or being unmotivated, because we don't know our "why" of pursuing our goals. Or being unsupported. We don't have to do it alone. We can ask for help or get an accountability buddy. But if you are not sure why you are procrastinating, my safe bet is to get absolute and positive clarity on what you are doing and why."

Larry Maguire

Founder of Hardcore Junkie

"Being in a state of non-decision can be debilitating. I think this is because the world and everyone in it has been convinced that to sit on the fence for a while is a bad thing. When we are in that state of indecision it can be a very important time, a creative time, so I don't push it. When indecision is there I go with it and wait for the inspiration.

Now, if procrastination is born from fear of a particular outcome then that's a different story. If we are in a state of fear or anxiety about going one way or another, and we move, we are likely to get a bad result.

The trick for me is to ignore popular convention and advice and try to connect with myself. I believe that fear comes in when we don't trust ourselves to make the right decision. If the answer is not coming then sit, wait, and focus on the outcome you want then go with the inspiration and don't question it."

Dragos Roua

Serial Entrepreneur, Author and Blogger at Dragosroua.com

"My number one method for overcoming / avoiding procrastination is self-discipline. As simple as that. I tried many other "wonder methods" but none of them really worked in the long run, I always fell back to the previous "interrupted patterns". So, the only way to avoid being trapped in the endless pit of Facebook checking, compulsive texting or whatever procrastination practice you're addicted to, it's to just take a deep breathe, focus on the task in front of you and do your job, no matter how hard it feels. Period."

L.A. Balamurugan

"It's important to first realize that you are procrastinating, and then it's very easy to overcome. When I know that I am procrastinating, I start thinking of the possible losses that can arise due to the procrastination. I call this as LOP (Loss on Procrastination).

Take for instance, procrastinating a flight booking. Sometimes, flight costs increase as we near the travel date. So by delaying your flight booking you end up paying more. This loss (extra money spent) is one thing. The other thing is: What if there are no flights to suit your schedule on the travel date? You will have to change your entire travel schedule. The losses arising out of such a scenario maybe much higher. Once you know the biggest possible loss, it is easy to do tasks immediately without further delay.

Another example: Submitting a sales proposal. The maximum loss by procrastinating on this task is losing the deal. Yes, that could happen if your competitor submitted before you.

Though it might look obvious, we don't always consider this Loss on Procrastination because we want to procrastinate for various reasons. Once you do this analysis, you would realize that there is a lot at stake and hence it's good to NOT procrastinate."

Alari Aho

CEO of Toggl

"My first tip is context switch - either a walk or a nap; after that, any seemingly hard things can be solved really fast. If I feel that I don't want to do the thing, then maybe it's not a bad idea to actually postpone doing it; if you continue postponing a task, either delegate or just drop it."

Adam Hewitt

Co-Founder of Brain.fm

"I think it's easy for me to look at procrastination and productivity one-dimensionally. As if procrastination is a mental popup window and the solution is a mental popup blocker.

Out of the hundreds of productivity methods, that I know, I like Seth Roberts' "Magic Dots" the best. It increases my output and keeps me on task, and that's awesome and sounds like the problem is solved, right? Wrong.

I did that for years and got nowhere. No productivity method solves the most malicious and devious forms of procrastination.

For the last 10 years I've been meaning to create a will. But I haven't, because I procrastinate even the act of putting it on my to-do list. Even that simple act is subconsciously too painful for me to do. Underneath even simple tasks is a complex web of thought patterns. Sticking to the will example: the very idea causes me to think about my own mortality. Who deserves X and who doesn't? How will this piece of paper affect the way people think of me after I'm gone?

And that's the real issue: Until now the entire process of thinking behind this task has been occurring below my level of awareness. A part of me has been asking all these questions, without my knowledge. And it's come to the conclusion that it would make me uncomfortable to face this.
The result is that when I'm planning for the day, this task doesn't even come up. It simply never arrives for my conscious mind to consider. The neural mechanism that is keeping me from doing this task also keeps me from even thinking about doing the task.

Then, when I finally slip into a peaceful slumber after a day of joyous productivity, I am riddled with unseen worries. Undone responsibilities that can't be placed, and slip away when analyzed. A particular cruelty of the mind is that when you are finally unable to act, all the acts your mind kept away from you will surface.

I don't have a method to give anyone. But I think that's OK. Even preferable. More realistic. It is and always should be an ongoing project of self-improvement."

Phil Dumontet

CEO of Dashed

"Procrastination is born out of fear; it's the result of being overwhelmed by the scope of a project in front of you. Your mind & body freeze up, becoming paralyzed, and you try to hide from it.

Instead of running away, steer towards what you have to do, full throttle. Break down your fear with good process & reasoning. Set up a gameplan, with specific goals that must be accomplished by certain days. Schedule them in your calendar. Celebrate achieving each of the milestones along the way to fuel your confidence. Excellence is a matter of steps, and breaking down an overwhelming project to smaller pieces is the best way to ensure progress towards the larger goal."

Junaid Kalmadi

Co-Founder of Brain.fm

"I recommend using the Pomodoro technique along with brain.fm."

Will Henshal

Founder and CEO of Focus at Will (and Billboard winner!)

"My #1 habit to avoid procrastination is to set up timed sessions to do the work that needs doing. I make myself a commitment that I cannot break. I actually use the timer on the Focus@Will app, my perfect time length is 85 minutes, but I know that everyone is different. To get something that I don't like done (i.e. taxes, business model spreadsheets, etc.) I find I need music with a very high energy level, such as the Up tempo High Energy channel. Then I run the app "Rescue time" which stops anything else working on my computer, then I get to it."

Sujan Patel

Growth Hacking Expert and Co-Founder of Contentmarketer.io

"One thing I've done to overcome procrastination is to start my day off by doing the hardest thing. I'm flooded with emails, work, phone calls, etc from 8am to 7pm so this usually requires me waking up earlier than normal to tackle the tasks at hand. This helps me feel like I accomplished something and usually makes for a more productive day."

Julie Gray

Founder of Profound Impact

"I've spent a good deal of my life procrastinating all sorts of things but I no longer consider myself a procrastinator. I realized long ago that that label was letting me off the hook a bit too easily. The more I identified with being a procrastinator - the more I procrastinated. Instead I started looking at all the ways I did not procrastinate - and found mountains of examples. This freed me to deal with in-the-moment procrastination far more effectively.

My favorite trick for dealing with in-the-moment procrastination is to create a game. I pick a certain amount of time and see just how much I can get done on the dishes, the report, calling prospects, etc. - before that time is up. Use a timer and this game can work for all sorts of things - cleaning up your desk at night, filing papers, going to bed at night. Usually, once I break through that initial layer of resistance I can keep going or stop and feel good that I moved a project forward."

Sonia Thompson

Chief Change Agent at TRY Business

"My number one method for overcoming procrastination is to have a project plan. If I'm able to see a full list of all the activities that I need to accomplish and when, then I'm able to visually see that there's no time to mess around.

Also - when I'm able to see all the tasks that need to be done, if there's one particular thing I'm not overly excited about doing, I'm able to do other activities on the list that require my attention.
That momentum of checking something off makes it easier to keep doing what I need to do - especially for those less fun tasks."

Ashley Trexler

"I'm a procrastinator. My head is hanging and I'm admitting defeat. I procrastinate. I need/want that thrill, that drive of a true deadline, to motivate, inspire, and yes, force me to finish what I started. My parents did it. I do it. Maybe it's genetics, maybe not. Either way, if you're the type that craves that deadline high, learn how to embrace it. Don't fight your procrastination tendencies. Learn to work smart.

How do I keep from getting overwhelmed and avoiding last-minute procrastination? The Bullet Journal Method.

Get a blank journal, make a list at the beginning of every month that you want to accomplish. Include work, life, fun. Everything. If you're Type A make a weekly list, too. Just put it all down. One item per line.

At the beginning of each day, start a fresh page with your daily list of to-do goals. Add an asterisk to what must be completed (*), checkmark when it's done (feels so good), and bullet point if it's a to-do but is not critical. Carry over the bullet points at the end of the day. You'll find unnecessary tasks drop off the list and you can focus on what needs to get done, not what you want to get done.

That's my key to making procrastination work for you."

Dave Schneider

CEO and Co-founder of Ninja Outreach

"My number one tip is having a clear to-do list with lot of options.
Mostly I'm not productive when I'm not sure what I need to be doing, or I just don't like the options for what I can work on. I need a few different options that fit varying levels of motivation (like easy quick wins, or big projects when I'm energized)"

Arman Assadi

Solopreneur and Writer at ArmanAssadi.com

"At a foundational level, procrastination is caused because the person is in a disillusioned, unfocused, zombified, trance-state. There's a very specific formula for creating this: Laziness + Indifference = Procrastination.

This addresses the root cause of procrastination. But now what? In order to really overcome procrastination and create real momentum, there's one specific method: burn your bridges and focus on only one thing. No backup plans. In order to support that new methodology and mindset, you must burn your boats and/or bridges. Acknowledge the worst case scenario (you'll find it's actually not that bad) and dive into your one thing by starting with an action that will create massive momentum and leverage.

The key is to have one single brand promise, one company vision, one single deliverable, one single project, one...you get the point. Do not allow yourself to even look at another idea or opportunity, cut everything else out and set a timeline for your goal. Work backwards and create chunks of mini-deliverables, then celebrate each win along the way. You cannot possibly procrastinate with this approach to your work and life."

Stefan Pylarinos

"My number one method for overcoming procrastination is have a strong enough reason why to do something. Procrastination only occurs when you don't have a strong enough reason to take action, which ultimately means you're associating pain with whatever you're procrastinating on. You need to flip it around and reverse it. Start to begin to associate pain to NOT taking action. Think about what the consequences are and ask yourself, "Why is this important for me?" If you can discover what that reason is, you'll feel pulled towards what you want, instead of having to push yourself to do it."

Martina McGowan, MD

"The weekends, I find, are the toughest to crack for procratination. They tend to be less structured in general, which is a good break from the daily hustle. However, each day I make a short list of the things I must accomplish that particular day. These things can involve my professional life, personal life, social media tasks, what time I need to get on the road if I am traveling, etc. Keep it short, no more than 5. Stick to the plan. And, plan some fun."

Morgan Dix

Co-Founder of About Meditation

"Meditation is a powerful tool for productivity. I've been meditating for over 20 years and here's what I've seen. Meditation is training for your attention. In an age where distraction rules the day, developing our capacity for one-pointed attention is invaluable. Everything you do requires attention and meditation is a process of refining your attention. With practice, the art of meditation teaches you how to stay relaxed and focused on one thing at a time. It keeps you rooted in the present moment.

In that space of present moment awareness, we are free from the stress response, which undermines productivity. Instead, that state of relaxed focus is conducive for creative breakthroughs, heightened focus, increased working memory capacity, and flow states.

Here's what that looks like. When I meditate in the morning, it calms my nerves and settles my mind. From this state, I look out on the day ahead and decide what's most important to accomplish. Where will I get the biggest bang for the buck on my energy and engagements? I marry my meditation with my daily goals. As a result, I keep that calm focus with me like an arrow through the day and it helps me let go of the activities and distractions that aren't aligned with my daily intention. I'm always more productive and more focused when I marry meditation and my daily goals and intention."

Thai Nguyen

Founder of The Utopian Life

"Stop. And do nothing.

Explore the root of your procrastination -- self-reflection is powerful an exercise to find out why you keep trying to stall. Too often, when we think about beating procrastination, we deal only in the "How" and not the "Why." Switch from "How do I beat procrastination" to "Why am I procrastinating?"

And there is always some type of fear at the root -- fear that people will criticize your work once it's finished. So we reason to ourselves (subconsciously) that if you never finish the work, you can never be criticized. There are a number of different fears. But stop what you're doing when you're procrastinating, spend time self-reflecting and get to the "Why" of your procrastinating before you try and engage in the 'How'."

Peter G. James Sinclair

"One method - four parts....
1. Write out a list of the 6 main things I need to do today to move my life or business forward.
2. Prioritize the list.
3. Do the list.
4. Anything remaining undone on that list put on tomorrow's list."

Gideon Shalwick

"When you know your true calling, and you commit to it, procrastination becomes non-sensical."

Angela Artemis

"My number one way of beating procrastination is to always focus on my big "why". When you connect deeply to why you're working on something you're more likely to overcome avoidance and procrastination and finish what you started. Your big "why" is the reason you want to jump out of bed in the morning and your purpose and mission. It's your legacy and the impact you want to have on the world.

If you don't get clear from the beginning on why you're doing what you're doing it's a safe bet you'll hit brick walls of procrastination. Do some digging, maybe some meditation or journaling and ask yourself what your big "why" is and you'll have a powerful tool to help pull you out of procrastination."

Paige Burkes

"The three things that keep me from procrastination are: 1) closing my email app, 2) having one post-it next to my computer on which I've written the three things I need to accomplish that day and 3) a Pomodoro app on my phone.

Email is my biggest distraction so I have a set time to check it later in the day as a "reward" for getting the important stuff done first. Closing it keeps me from "just checking" while I'm getting real work done.

The post-it keeps me focused on what's important and gives me the satisfaction of crossing things off as I complete them. I don't waste time figuring out what I'm supposed to do next (another contributor to procrastination). I pull the list together at the end of the previous day.

The Pomodoro app keeps me focused. When I know that I only have a set amount of time to get something done, it tends to get done in that period of time. Before using these apps, I would work for an hour or two on a project and physically feel run down and cramped up - not exactly the state I need to be in to keep going all day. With regular breaks (I usually pull out my stationery stepper and "walk" for five minutes), my energy stays positive all day.

While my subconscious often screams to get all the little, easy things done first (and, admittedly, it wins sometimes), the method I described has been very effective at keeping my subconscious quiet while I get things done."

Suzie Cheel

The Heart Whisperer at Suziecheel.com

"Procrastination is the thief of my time if I start my day without a definite plan or I think I'll just take a minute to check my email, reply to my group on Facebook, etc. The list is never ending and before I know it an hour of my precious day has gone.
Mono-focusing on doing what brings me joy and moves me forward, with no distractions and keeping my to 'love list' beside me so I can tick those 3 MIT's (most-important-things) off my list each morning, that brings a smile to my heart. My mentor calls this Riding a Wild Donkey."

Betsy Henry

"I am a procrastinator. I now say it proudly. Sometimes I have no problem slowly working up to an end date. However, other times, procrastination takes over. Rather than fight against my procrastination, I decided to embrace procrastination and use it to my advantage. As a writer, I use the time up until the deadline to research, find inspiration and have fun. Do something that gathers in my creative juices.

The only advice I have is to make the procrastination activities relative to your work. Doodles, images online, YouTube videos all are my muses. I write short incomplete sentences; sometimes I write down words I like. Then when the last minute arrives I pull everything together. These last minute posts are often some of my best."

Henri Junttila

Founder of Wake up Cloud

"Start tiny. For example, instead of focusing on writing a chapter in your book, write just one sentence on the topic you want to write about. Getting started is difficult, and we make it difficult by how we perceive the task in front of us. So, get started. Things get easier from there."

Jessica Sweet

"If you're procrastinating on something I think you have to look at it and ask yourself why. Why is it so hard to do what you're trying to do? I think there's probably a reason, a fear underneath that is holding you back that you probably haven't examined. Once you unearth it, you can make some decisions about what you want to do and what you don't, and work through the feelings around it. Once you stop fighting yourself, your procrastination will dissolve."

Courtney Carver

"For me specifically, my number one method for avoiding procrastination is to recruit an accountability partner, I might put off writing something that doesn't have a due date, but if I promise it to someone else by a certain date, I'll get it done."

Vanessa Van Edwards

Author and Behavioral Investigator at ScienceofPeople.com

"My method for dealing with procrastination is to have a "to-do" list and a "not to-do list". Basically, have two lists, one with action items that you should do and the other with things you shouldn't. Your to-do list should be short with 2-3 items like writing blog posts and client calls. Your not to-do list can and should be long and may include no Facebook, no emails, no Instagram browsing, no Netflix.

Having two lists has helped me to stay focused and has helped with procrastination. Emails and social media are so distracting. They can keep me from doing what I really need to get done during the day.

You can even assign timing to the lists for more structure. For example, for the next 3 hours, I'm going to write 3 blog posts (to-do) and not check my Facebook (not to-do). You can also switch it up to give yourself a little break during the day: For the next 45 minutes, I'm going to watch Game of Thrones (to-do) and not check my email (not to-do).

It's important to balance both work and play time and having tasks/activities/action items listed out makes the balancing act more simple and achievable."

Remez Sasson

"Simply getting up and carrying out the task or whatever needs to be done immediately, and get through with it. If you procrastinate, it will be more difficult to take action and there will be more inner resistance. If you act immediately, there will be less inner resistance."

Scott Britton

Co-Founder of Get Troops and Author of Life Long Learner

"Waking up early and doing the most important things first!"

John Burr

"Sometimes procrastination is misidentified when it is actually prioritization.
But if it is a procrastination response then we need to shift our subconscious programming that is causing us to respond in this way. And it may be more than one bit of subconscious programming.

The best way to permanently shift subconscious programming is through dedicated work with a Mind-Kinetics® Coach to record a new behaviour/response to the same stimulus. The client will notice shifts after every Mind-Kinetics® Coaching session. The full shift might occur after one session or it may take several sessions. It all depends on the breadth and depth of the programming."

Take Action

Stop letting procrastination hold you back from your goals. Understand the reasons for your procrastination and take action on it! This time, you know what to do!

About Peter Banerjea
Peter is Co-Founder of SuccessIsWhat, a success coaching firm. He's on a mission to guide people to achieve their goals faster by building super-productive habits and conquering time . Get his latest free e-book: "Productivity Secrets of 7 Billionaires You can put into Action Right Now"

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