If you’ve read my previous article “Procrastination Queen“, you probably know that I’m a huge procrastinator! I’ve never had an issue admitting that I do have this problem but only recently I started looking deeper behind my habits of avoiding to-do lists at all costs when free time is already a luxury. It has turned out that there are quite a few logical explanations why sometimes I try to avoid working on my projects no matter how passionate I might feel about them, and if you’re keen to find out more, definitely go back to my previous article and have a read!

After I started paying attention to my thought process and feelings, it didn’t take long to develop a strategy to help me snap out of the procrastination mode and to go back to being my most proactive self. Today I wanted to share my tips and tricks with you in case you’ll also find them helpful or simply because I don’t want you to think of me as a couch-potato!

Break the connection between your tasks 

People often say that it helps if you prioritise just a few points in your to-do list and focus on one task at a time. However, I’ve never had problems with identifying what’s more important in my list and where I should start. It’s the bigger picture that’s always made my head hurt: in my to-do list, especially the one I have for my music-related activities, one task is always connected to something bigger and leads to another task, which in turn leads to a completely new project which is still waiting to be planned out. You can see how easy it is to go down the anxiety spiral if you start thinking about the reasoning behind each task at hand, which is technically what you’re supposed to do to help yourself keep the motivation levels up.

It was a huge revelation for a person like me, who generally loves planning ahead and knowing the purpose of everything I’m doing, to discover that sometimes my strategising can actually make me counterproductive. However, once I started recognising this peculiar pattern in the way my brain works, it was easy to change my attitude: just like physically I can only do one big task at a time, I also try to mentally isolate this task from a thousand of others that feed into this bigger picture that I’m so into. Suddenly, I no longer have to take photos for the article that I still need to write and that I still need to upload to the blog, the layout of which I still need to fix. With this new attitude, all I have to think about is the fact that I need to go take photos, and you know what?  I really love photography, so I’ll happily go!

Think about it while you’re doing something else

Sometimes there are things on my to-do list that I just really don’t want to do. It might be a super awkward email that I have to write or an hour-long video that I need to edit. In my head I’m dreading the moment I’d have to sit down and do that task and so there’s nothing surprising in the fact that instead, I choose to procrastinate for as long as physically possible before actually getting down to it.

Unfortunately, having these kinds of tasks is unavoidable. I know that I’ll feel relieved when I actually send out that email and I’ll definitely like the video once it’s done. However, to get to that point, I still need to overcome myself. And what I find helps me the most is to imagine how exactly I’d be tackling these kinds of tasks without physically sitting down and doing them. Weird but it works! While walking to work, I’d be thinking of what I could include in that email to make it more convincing, and while I’m on a lunch break, I’d be imagining how I could arrange the shots to make the video more fun. Eventually, something would click in my head and I’d reach for the laptop myself to get the job done.

Just keep doing something out of your list

When my to-do list seems to be never-ending and my motivation levels non-existent, I try to choose the simplest, most trivial task out of that list and complete it within minutes. Ticking something off my list, no matter how small, is incredibly satisfying and it usually gives me enough motivation to tackle one more tiny thing out of the list. After that, I usually snap out of my apathetic mood and become ready for the important stuff on my agenda.

In a way, tackling small unimportant tasks is just another way of procrastinating and avoiding the main work. However, this is probably the most productive way to delay the inevitable, so I definitely recommend to try this mind trick and see if it works for you!

Reward yourself but only after you’re done

“Treat yourself!” is one of my favourite phrases that I may or may not use as an excuse for pretty much every unnecessary purchase I ever make. And if I’m going to make an unnecessary purchase anyway, why not use it to my advantage and make it a reward for something I’ve done? It’s much easier to focus on a boring task when you know that at the finish line a nice shiny prize is awaiting you.

Moreover, the rewards you choose for yourself don’t always have to harass your bank account and can be revolved around some enjoyable activities that didn’t make it to your actual to-do list. Watching an episode of your favourite TV show, eating a cake – whatever floats your boat and makes your productivity mode switch on quicker! The only difficulty is to actually stop on that one episode and to have the moral strength to put the cake back to the fridge. Perhaps, I know in advance that my self-control doesn’t  really exist and that’s why I try to stick to little purchases as rewards for my good proactive behaviour. At the end of the day, my bank account puts a stop to this rewarding system fairly quickly!

And before I let you go, I have to warn you that if you’re really going to use this trick, it’s important to keep one golden rule in mind: the reward should follow only after the full completion of the task in question and not a second earlier! Don’t try to bribe yourself and don’t promise yourself that you’ll finish it later! A bribe is not the same as a prize and therefore it will never work in the same motivational way!

I hope you’ll have an incredibly productive week now that you’ve had this anti-procrastination crash course! If you’re friends with a couch-potato, definitely share this article with them too! And as always, don’t forget that my upcoming EP is available for pre-order and after all the self-analysis I’ve conducted for these articles, I’m more proactive with its promotion than ever!

Photos by James Pepper