loader image
A light bulb goes off for a person sitting at a desk.
Picture of World Wide Group™

World Wide Group™

Outsmart Procrastination

At least once in our lives, we’ve all been the culprit of wasting precious time in the most common way: procrastination. Everyone rationalizes it differently. Some of us say, “I work well under pressure.” Others say, “I have more important things to do.” And there’s always someone who says outright, “I’ll do it later!” Each of these instances is true in one way or another. Sure, some people do have great results when working under pressure. Yes, many people have more important tasks to tackle. Of course, doing it later is an option … they all are. But are they the best options? Probably not. Thankfully, there are ways for us to choose productivity and outsmart procrastination.

Understand Procrastination

A tree’s roots crawl over a mossy rock while a waterfall flows in the background.

Procrastination often stems from a combination of fear, uncertainty, and distractions. Recognizing these factors is the first step toward conquering your tendency to put off work. Start by acknowledging your own patterns and tendencies, and develop an approach to address the root causes of your own personal procrastination.

Set Clear Goals

A gold trophy on green turf in front of a soccer goal.

A lack of clear goals often contributes to delayed work. Without an established direction, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and put off tasks. Break down your larger objectives into smaller, manageable goals. Create a to-do list with specific tasks and deadlines, providing a framework that eliminates ambiguity and empowers you to make progress. If your biggest struggle is knowing how to start or where to start, the best place to start is prioritizing your to-dos.

Prioritize Tasks

Prioritization is the key to productive living. Identify tasks based on their urgency and importance, using frameworks like the Eisenhower Matrix. Classify your tasks into four categories: urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and neither urgent nor important. Focus your energy on tasks in the first two categories, relegating less critical activities to later. Once you’ve organized those tasks by level of priority, simplify them all into a list and get to work.

Time Management Techniques

For folks who have no problem prioritizing but have difficulty using their time effectively, there are several helpful time management techniques to utilize. So, whether your focus is too dialed in (you get lost in a task for 5 hours) or it’s not dialed in enough (you can’t focus on one task for more than 15 minutes), one of these techniques is bound to help you.

The Pomodoro Technique

This is a time management strategy that helps break the cycle of idling. It involves working in focused intervals, typically 25 minutes, followed by a short break. After completing four cycles, take a more extended break. This method capitalizes on the brains ability to maintain concentration for short periods, preventing burnout and enhancing overall productivity.


Although similar to the Pomodoro technique, the focus of time-blocking is to move from one task to the next, not intending to come back to the first. Time-blocking requires you to list all your hours in a day, then estimate the length of time you’ll need to focus on each task. Some tasks will only take 30 minutes, and more complicated tasks may take 3 hours. Be sure to leave small amounts of buffer time between tasks, in case one runs slightly longer than expected. Either way, be sure to set a timer that signals you to end whatever task you’re currently working on.

Parkinson's Law

If you have trouble sticking to parameters that you set, don’t set any. Instead, adhere to constraints that someone else has set. For example, if you need to focus on a task for a long time, go to a public place where you’ll be forced to stop work when it closes. Or, leave your electronics chargers behind. You’ll work for however long your devices allow. If you choose this option, be sure to save frequently so you don’t lose any work when your devices die.

Create a Productive Environment

A lamp, laptop, speaker, and smartphone on a desktop.

Your physical surroundings significantly impact your ability to stay focused. Designate a dedicated workspace free from distractions and personalize it with elements that motivate and inspire you. Consider incorporating natural light, plants, or motivational quotes to create a positive and conducive atmosphere for productivity.

Reward Yourself

Five paper cups of different flavored and colored ice cream.

Implement a system of rewards to reinforce positive behavior and incentivize productivity. After completing a challenging task or achieving a significant milestone, treat yourself to a small break, a favorite snack, or a leisure activity. This positive reinforcement creates a connection between productivity and enjoyable experiences, making it more likely that you’ll stay committed to your tasks.

Outsmart Procrastination Once and for All

Self-awareness, strategic planning, and the promotion of positive habits are all necessary to help outsmart procrastination. Whether you “work well under pressure,” “have better things to do,” or will “do it later, you can transform your approach to productivity. Conquering your delays will undoubtedly yield better results than your previous approaches. Remember that overcoming procrastination is a continuous process. Developing these habits will empower you to become a force of priority-focused productivity.

One final step to help outsmart your procrastination is to build a strong work ethic.

Take these five-steps to build a strong work ethic.
Share this post