5 procrastination tips from productivity and mindfulness coaches
By Eleanor Hope-Jones
Dec 08, 2022
How to overcome procrastination? It’s a question that’s haunted humans who’ve avoided addressing procrastination for generations.
When it comes to your garden variety, everyday procrastination we all have a few tricks up our sleeves that help us get to grips with important tasks and stop procrastinating.
And we think it’s only right to share tips, tricks and tribulations from our in-house productivity coaches so you can stop procrastinating that particular task you’ve been avoiding for hours now…
5 tricks to stop procrastinating
From timers to false deadlines to inner mind games, the range of techniques and trickery here are our top five ways to beat procrastination.
Jack uses the backwards countdown to stop procrastinating immediately
Coined by motivational speaker Mel Robbins, the backwards countdown method is exactly what it sounds like. Also known as ‘The 5 Second Rule’ you simply count down from 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and go!
Like a rocket blasting off, this technique is all about helping you get started. Especially if you love a long slow morning and struggle to get out of bed on a cold wet day.
Psychologically the backwards countdown method is such a game-changer because it engages your prefrontal cortex. AKA the part of your brain that plans complex cognitive behavior and decision-making.
So the prefrontal cortex is absolutely someone you want on your team when trying to stop procrastinating. Take it from Jack:
“I like it because it lights a spark, kicks you into gear and fires a starting gun!“
Micah focuses on time blocking for overcoming procrastination
Anytime he’s struggling to get in gear Micah swears by writing down exactly what he wants to get done and when he’s going to do it.
We’re talking details here: “It forces me to break down the goal into tasks that make sense in my brain right here and now.”
Once those big projects have been broken down into tasks, Micah can then box off how long he will spend on it.
“I never plan more than 45 minutes for something I’m procrastinating, and usually a fair bit shorter. Our reptilian brain loves immediacy. So when my long-term thinking mammalian mind is struggling to turn the key on my mojo, tapping into those quick-win instincts helps to build my momentum.”
Jack’s love affair with Pomodoro makes him less likely to procrastinate
Whilst we’re on the topic of immediacy, the short sprint of a Pomodoro can also help overcome procrastination by promising yourself it’ll only be a really short task.
Pomodoro is a time management technique that uses a 25-minute timer to create a sense of urgency. Each 25-minute sprint is broken up by 5-minute breaks in between, and a longer 15 to 30-minute break every 4 intervals.
“Even if it is my day off and I don't feel like doing anything, just knowing that that niggling task or something I need to finish can be smashed out in a quick 25 mins helps. If it takes longer, I am already in it and there in flow.”
Pomodoro sprints are another fantastic way of kickstarting your brain out of procrastination and into productivity.
🗨️ Try a Flock for free to trick your brain out of procrastinating
FLOWN runs 5 deep work sessions every weekday, as well as 2 shorter sessions to help you plan your day, where you can experience the pomodoro effect for yourself. Flocks are digital coworking spaces, designed to free you from distraction and get more done.
How Flocks work
Victoria swears by reward noting to overcome procrastination
For Victoria, it's all about seeing her future self on the other side of the task, and being specific about what her reward will be.
From going for a relaxing swim to chill time in pyjamas scrolling on social media, knowing what’s on the other side of your hard work can help you settle into a certain task.
“I thrive on structure and healthy boundaries. I’ve been a freelancer for so long that it can all go a touch ‘daytime telly’ if I’m not very careful!”
The practice of setting specific deadlines and having a reward to finish afterwards creates a clear time limit. Not to mention choosing a reasonable task your present self knows it can get done and your future self will thank you for completing.
“If I’m to be watching Breaking Bad in slippers with a fish pie at 8 pm, I’d better crack on and jolly well earn it! 😄”
Eleanor uses productivity apps for important tasks
Sometimes the trouble with procrastination isn’t getting started but keeping going.
“In my own life as soon as I hit a roadblock in an important task or something that my brain finds a little bit difficult I’m on social media before I realise it.”
Sound familiar? This is where anti-procrastination apps that can block certain websites are worth their weight in gold.
Setting an intentional environment like this can help your focus session be more productive than you ever thought possible. From putting your phone in the other room to trying out anti-procrastination apps like Freedom or Flora, you can then devote all of your willpower and self-control to the task at hand.
“I know the statistics on deep work: it takes 23 minutes to fully refocus once you’ve been drawn away from your task. Using these apps is like a safety net that protects my focus and flow.”
Why do I procrastinate so much?
If you need more support to stop procrastinating, then you might be struggling with chronic procrastination. Chronic procrastination means you’ve developed a procrastination habit that happens regularly.
You may be experiencing negative consequences in your work and home life, and struggle with negative emotions towards yourself.
Remember at its core procrastination is a difficulty with regulating uncomfortable emotions rather than struggling with time management techniques.
Try reading our complete guide to procrastination to learn more about your past procrastination's root causes, and some long-term solutions to beat procrastination.