I am a lover of to-do lists. These lists help me remember everything that needs to get done. But I only like them when I can scratch absolutely every item off my list. And that happens almost never.
See, when I’m writing a list, I’m optimistic. Fix the paint in the bathroom! Wash the exterior windows! Do the laundry! Upload and edit pictures! Write a few articles! Plus 27 other things for a Sunday afternoon.
You know where this is going. The exterior windows remain covered in dirt, and there are still two pieces of bare drywall in the bathroom. But I recently figured out a handful of tried-and-true tricks to help me stop procrastinating, and since implementing them, I’ve become twice as productive and half as stressed! It’s great. Finish more things, feel more relaxed … what more could you want?
Here are 7 tips to jump-start your productivity:
How to Stop Procrastinating and Get Things Done NOW 1 of 8
With these 7 tips, your to-do list will be a done deal in no time. Click through, and get started!
Don’t Skimp When Making Your List 2 of 8
Figure out all the things you want to finish, and put them on the list. Make sure you have smaller things on the list, as well as the major things. This is a helpful strategy because once you start crossing things off the list, you're motivated to continue, and that motivation will carry you through the more difficult/challenging/yucky tasks.
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… But Set Realistic Expectations 3 of 8
Have 189 things on your list and only 20 minutes to spare? Don't try to do everything right now! Give yourself enough time to get a bunch of things done, or, if you only have 20 minutes, tackle a pesky task that you hate that won't take long. Just like with any goal, be reasonable with yourself, and consider your schedule. If you overshoot your goals, you'll just feel disappointed when you're left with only a few items checked off.
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Batch Tasks to Make Things Easier 4 of 8
Is your to-do list all over the place? Mine is. I want to do laundry, finish Christmas cards, and write three blog posts. So, I start the laundry, get out the cards and think about topics for posting. I'll do everything in batches so I don't get overwhelmed. First, address all the envelopes. Put blank cards inside. Next, open cards one by one, and add a line about the recipient. Finally, stamp and seal the envelope, and put it in the "done" pile. Watch that pile grow then start writing.
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Do the Hardest Thing First 5 of 8
What's on your list that has been there for too many days? Is it extra hard, or is it just something you don't want to do? Evaluate how long this task will take, and if it's less than half an hour, get it done first. I want to hang a few pictures on the wall and patch the bathroom wall's paint job. If I tackle those, everything else on the list looks easy.
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Turn off Your Wifi 6 of 8
This is, hands down, my best tip. Block access to wireless, and wham! Facebook is no longer the distraction it was five minutes ago.
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Do Internet Chores Last Because Facebook 7 of 8
In the same vein, be mindful of those chores you must use the Internet to complete. If you're like me, the second you sit down to do it, you want to open other tabs to help divert your attention. Listen to those cues, and push through them. If your task requires using the Internet, you'll have to turn it on, and when you're done with what you need to do, you can check email/Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram.
Image by Karpati Gabor
Pat Yourself on the Back 8 of 8
Go through your weekly accomplishments — keep the to-do lists, perhaps — to show yourself what you're capable of finishing. Then, go ahead and pat yourself on the back, and relax. You're getting things done, and you're happier and less stressed than you were before. Kudos!
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