Photo credit: Samantha Gades,

Procrastinate much?

If you can never seem to get anything done, or are always snowed under with too much to do, then this article is for you. The following tips and techniques will aid you in completing those tasks — be it trivial items, or life changing projects, enabling you to get back on top of things.

#1: The Task Sheet

If you don’t write things down, you probably won’t do them.

If you take the time to write a list of tasks that you want to complete, you’re far more likely to begin them. Simply jot down what must be done, and start with the tasks that take top priority.

A good system to use is the “Personal Kanban”. This involves using three columns and writing the tasks on colored sticky notes. The three columns are “backlog,” “doing,” and “done”.

All sticky notes start in the backlog column. Once you start one or more tasks, the related sticky notes move to the “doing” column. Once complete, the note moves to the “done” column.

#2: Eating the Elephant

This works well with tasks that you either hate doing, or it just seems too big to achieve, so they’re always put off for another day. You may have heard the question before: How do I eat an elephant?

The answer is: One bite at a time.

If you hate washing dishes, but know it needs to be done, try breaking the task down into time segments.

Instead of thinking, “Oh, I have to do the washing up…” Think: “I’m going to wash the dishes, but only for 11 minutes.”

It’s much easier to motivate yourself to do only 11 minutes of work. You’ll also find that you’re likely to carry on doing the task, even after the time has elapsed. It’s quite surprising how much you can do in 11 minutes!

Another way to tackle difficult projects is to figure out what activities comprise the “whole” and make each an individual task. For example, if you had to cut the grass in the front and back yard, the individual tasks would be:

  1. Cut the grass in the front yard
  2. Trim the edges
  3. Rake the grass
  4. Sweep up
  5. Cut the grass in the back yard
  6. Trim the edges
  7. Rake the grass
  8. Sweep up

The bare minimum to do would be to cut the grass in the front yard. Even if you only did this one task, then progress has been made. It’s easier to set a smaller goal of doing bite-sized tasks than procrastinating over completing the whole project.

#3: Rewards

Rewarding yourself for a completed task can be excellent motivation. If you’re looking forward to something you enjoy, then the work does not seem so difficult or boring.

How you reward yourself is entirely up to you. It can be small — like a nice cup of coffee — or something bigger like buying that new TV you’ve been wanting for a while.

Self-discipline is important here.

Make sure you don’t grant yourself the reward until you have actually completed the task. Most times the reward is so much sweeter if you work hard for it.

#4: Your Energy Level

Your energy level and mood has a big impact on getting stuff done. If you’re in a bad mood or feel tired and lethargic, you’re a lot less likely to be motivated to do anything.

To quickly improve energy levels, exercise is a must. It’s not mandatory to do anything too strenuous or committed. In fact, doing 10 pushups or jogging on the spot for 60 seconds can work wonders.

On a long term basis, sleep and diet can dramatically affect your energy levels.

Remember how great you feel after a good night’s sleep? It may be that you need to get to bed a little earlier each night to feel the benefits.

As for diet, too much processed or sugary foods will cause low energy levels. These types of food can give a slight boost at first, but then comes the “crash”. Have you ever noticed how tired you feel every day after lunch? Again, drastic changes aren’t needed. Instead of going overboard on the sugary or starchy foods, try to add more fruit, nuts, and veggies to your meals and snacks.

Using even one of the four techniques listed above will help you overcome procrastination and finally get things done. You’ll be amazed at how your mood can lift once you’ve completed things that have been stewing for so long… sometimes without you realizing!