You have a big work project looming over your head, and you’re ready to get down to business…until you notice a stain on the rug. Hmm, maybe you should buy some rug cleaner. Or just get a new rug. Are there any sales at West Elm? Let’s check the website. Oooh, what a cute end table. Hey, procrastinator. You’re not alone. Here are seven unexpected time management tips for procrastinators to kick your habits to the curb for good.
8 Little Time Management Tips for Procrastinators
1. Build A Procrastination-free Zone
Your dining table is for eating, your couch is for Netflixing and your bed is for sweet, sweet slumber. So with a wandering mind like yours, chances are you’ll be pulled in another direction from any of those posts. Designate a space whose sole function is serving as your perch for getting sh*t done. Set up a study if space allows, carve out a small nook in the living room for a writing desk or even consider renting a shared workspace. Keep this zone neat, orderly and distraction-free (read: leave your cellphone elsewhere). And as for your ever-deterring online shopping habits? Move that “task” back to the couch. Boundaries, people.
2. Surround Yourself With Color
We know, this one sounds a little hippie dippy, but there’s science to back it up: Color psychology and visual cues can actually play a big role in motivating our behaviors. A study published by Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that red, for example, has been shown to increase attentiveness, and a separate study by the University of British Columbia found that blue can boost creativity. So maybe that Scandi-chic all-white workstation isn’t for you. Experiment with surrounding yourself with more color across the board—from rainbow-hued desk accessories, to your wardrobe, and even bringing more color into your diet. (Mmm, cherry tomato and spinach quiche for lunch.)
3. Take More Showers
Sometimes, there’s nothing better for jump-starting a productive stretch than literally giving yourself a fresh, clean slate. So the next time you have a big project to tackle, first get the sleep out of your eyes (or rinse the day’s grime away). Consider it the bodily component of having a clean workspace. P.S.: According to a study published in the Journal of the Public Library of Science, quality of work may benefit from that shower break.
4. Spend More Time With Doers
If you wanted to hang out with a fellow procrastinator, you could just eat lunch with a mirror. Instead, prioritize spending time with the people in your life whom you consider hard workers, go-getters and all-around inspiring human beings. (The anti-procrastinators of your network, if you will.) Their can-do energy and company will be good for your soul, as well as a serious motivator.
5. Assign A Procrastination Police Officer
Ask someone whose respect you value (whether that’s your S.O., close friend or family member) to act as your procrastination police. Tell them the projects you need to get done in your respective time frame, and charge them to follow up with you and hold you accountable with an email or text. According to findings from the American Psychological Association, shame can be hugely motivational. But in this case, that “shame” will actually come from a safe and positive place.
6. Wake Up Earlier
Getting something accomplished first thing in the morning is truly the antithesis of procrastination. So challenge yourself to rise an hour or two earlier and see how many to-dos can be checked off before you even leave for the day. Ticking off a few extra tasks (like meditating and making your bed) will give you the positive reinforcement—and inertia—to tweak your procrastinating mind-set. (P.S.: Don’t forget to adjust bedtime accordingly.)
7. Get Playful When It Comes To Getting Organized
If your looming to-do list feels like total drudgery, here's an idea one of our editors' mom swears by: Assign each task on your list a number from one through twelve. Then grab a pair of dice and roll. If you get a "7," find the corresponding item on the list and do it. And data scientists at the Social Market Foundation agree: Play can boost output. So whether it's flipping heads or tails to decide if you'll tackle those thank-you notes this evening or singing out your to-do list every morning, find a state of play and humor in the banal...and reap the rewards.
8. Stop Comparing Yourself With Others
If you compare the baby shower you’re (supposed to be) planning with the picture-perfect shindigs in your Pinterest feed, it might feel more crippling than inspiring. That’s because perfectionism—and the consequent fear of not delivering something perfect—can be one of the biggest triggers for procrastinators. (Studies, including one from York University, have backed this up.) So instead of sizing up the competition, focus on your own vision. That means no need to “research” a project for five hours before getting started—just start it already. You’ll feel so much better, we promise.