Here are some of the insights I gathered while trying to quit procrastinating.
In the last few years, I struggled a lot with prioritising and starting to work on my tasks. I tried many different prioritisation techniques, but I continued to procrastinate and struggle with my work for a long time.
The truth is that even the best methods cannot solve procrastination and demotivation. They can provide a guideline and give some good ideas. However, to become truly efficient, some other things need to be considered first.
These are some of the factors that I believe are more important than any method and tool:
Be aware of your personality type
Your personality type speaks volumes. It is an essential aspect of finding the proper techniques and methods, which will make you more efficient and motivated. A simple list of tasks might be more useful than a mind map with colors and pictures for someone who likes structure and routine. Someone who tends to get lost in details needs to find a way to stop overthinking. For creative people, it might be more fun and motivating to draw To-Dos in the form of pictures. A general understanding of your personality type helps finding appropriate ways to stay motivated and productive. Do not force yourself to use a method just because it is supposedly the best.
If you are interested in finding out more about personality types, have a look at the DISC Model.
Find your WHY
Knowing why specific tasks and projects should be accomplished is significant for ending procrastination. Motivation and productivity can only happen when the purpose is clear and intrinsic motivation gets sparked. Work is not enjoyable and motivational if there is no meaning behind it. If procrastination continues and the WHY sounds like “my colleague wants it” or “to master a new language is cool”, this means that your WHY is not inspirational enough. Be more specific and put more effort into that. You can use the technique called “The 5 Whys”. It is perfect if you want to find your true objectives. You have to start by stating your wish and then ask yourself, “Why?”. When you formulate an answer, ask the same thing again. This process goes on until five why-questions have been asked. After this, you will have a clearer idea of your reasons. If not- continue until you are satisfied with your answer.
Combine and integrate projects into daily routines
From time to time, I faced tasks and projects which I postponed forever, despite many attempts. For example, I wanted to become better at drawing Sketch Notes and learning a new language. Both of them were big and challenging projects, and I had trouble finding the time and motivation to invest in both of them regularly (next to many other projects). Then, I started combining my language learning with drawing Sketch Notes, for example, by drawing Sketch Note scenes and writing the vocabulary next to the pictures. I also started integrating Sketch Notes and language learning into my daily routine. Since then, my grocery lists are sometimes Sketch Notes or written in Spanish. These changes made it fun and easier to integrate into my everyday life than regular learning sessions. Therefore, find ways to incorporate projects into your daily routines or combine them to get started.
Try different media
The type of media has a significant impact on my motivation. I mainly prefer physical media because it gives me the satisfaction to move things around or tick something off. Apart from that, I use different media for different purposes. One of my projects is organised with Post-its on my door, my To-Dos are listed in a physical notebook, my training plan is written in X-Card style, hanging on my fridge, and for my collaborations, I use online Kanban boards.
Break down tasks
Some projects and tasks overwhelmed me. I was not sure how and where to start. Instead of doing anything, I just postponed these things endlessly. In such cases, it helped me sit down and brainstorm by listing every step and action that came into my mind to achieve that work. Afterwards, I put the results in some order. Until now, that approach has provided me with an overview of the steps that need to be done. Furthermore, smaller tasks do not overwhelm me anymore, and it became easier to start working on them.
Focus on results
At the beginning of being self-employed, I was stuck with an old-fashioned 9 to 5 routine. I was unhappy when I did not manage to work at least 8 hours per day. Working mainly from home didn't make it easier for me. It was hard to stay focused and concentrated for several hours. After some time, I realised that the number of hours spent did not impact my progress. Sometimes, I even worked endless hours but did not achieve anything. As a result, I started to set goals and objectives, which I split up into smaller work packages. At the beginning of every week, I decided which goals I wanted to achieve and moved the related tasks into my To-Do List. From that point on, I started measuring myself by the things I had accomplished. That approach made me focus on results instead of counting hours, I could finally see my progress and achievements, and I could celebrate them.
These are the things that worked best for me. My suggestion is to try different methods and techniques, adapt them, combine them or even create something entirely new. Do not stick to one finding only. It is also ok to have various approaches for different intentions or change the method when the current way is no longer appealing. You are free to experiment and find your own way!