A list of ideas for your not-to-do list that will reduce your procrastination time.
Have you ever wondered why we procrastinate so much?
What keeps us from doing our jobs first to have time to relax later?
Last month was my least productive period of the year. I was continuously distracted and couldn’t avoid my phone whatsoever. Everything I started ended up in post scrolling, and I haven’t reached even half of my expected results.
Usually, when things go wrong, I make lists that help me identify the problems I encounter and what I am doing correctly. However, I needed some clues to find my procrastinators, so I researched more information on the topic.
Procrastination in percentages
According to many studies, chronic procrastination affects approximately one in five people. However, a quarter of the population considers procrastination a personality trait.
And there is more.
A study by StudyMode found out that distraction, overwhelm, and uncertainty are the reason behind 88% of procrastination among students. And only distraction occupies almost half of the reasons (48%).
In a highly-connected world, this result comes with no surprise. The later generations were born and grew with smartphones in their hands and television in front of their eyes. The same study highlights that 61% of the young population procrastinates watching television, while 58% use social media. Other procrastination reasons are: sleeping (46%), texting (36%), hanging out with friends (30%), playing games (28%), and reading (21%).
So if I wanted to beat procrastination again, I had to focus on two things. First, cut out distractions. And second, organize my tasks to not feel overwhelmed.
And since a to-do list already helps you deal with the overwhelming feeling, I needed a not-to-do list. So here are 10 simple behaviors to avoid if you want to procrastinate less and live a better life.
10 simple behaviors to avoid for your not-to-do list
1 — Don’t check emails continuously.
Checking emails has become a sport for me lately. It fatigues me, and it drains me of all the energy. So I don’t achieve anything because I am not doing it correctly.
Usually, when someone checks their email, they should also have the time to answer them if needed or read them at least. But if you do it out of boredom, you will do neither of those things.
To stop procrastinating, I split my emails into three categories. The first type covers everything that I would consider spam, so I tried to unsubscribe from all of it. The second comprises newsletters I keep reading, and therefore I allocated a time block of half an hour in the evening to consume them. And the third category includes other necessary emails that I need to read and sometimes even answer. For those, I allocated two moments of my working day: one when I start working and the other two hours before I leave.
2 — Don’t multitask.
Multitasking has been one of my greatest enemies these last few months. And when I try to multitask, I never accomplish anything. So I decided to add this behavior to my 10 simple behaviors to avoid. This way, I will queue tasks in succession and increase my productive output.
Also, every time I multitask, I mark the activity interrupting my workflow on my not-to-do list. This way, I can focus more efficiently on avoiding that specific task.
3 — Don’t lift your smartphone.
Many people put on their not-to-do lists things like “don’t use social media” or “stop post-scrolling.” But those expressions rarely work because they don’t fight the source of the problem: lifting your smartphone.
If you only care about not using social media, you may still lift your smartphone to do something else. But then, if a catchy notification appears, it can easily break your resistance. Temptation can get to you way easier than you think, and you will be clicking that notification before you even know it.
4 — Don’t drink coffee right after you wake up.
Many people built the habit of drinking coffee right after they woke up. This way, they feel more energized and productive.
However, even if that sensation is true, caffeine is not only helping you wake up faster but getting tired with increasing speed. For this reason, I am using caffeine strategically and consuming coffee only after 6 hours of consistent work.
Also, since one of the main effects of caffeine is to reduce the sensation of tiredness of our brain, I stopped consuming it in the afternoon. This has helped me regularize my sleeping cycle, and therefore my productivity.
5 — Don’t procrastinate sleeping.
Even if caffeine plays a fundamental role in procrastinating sleep, it wasn’t the only reason for my sleep deprivation.
As I discovered only this month, one of the principal causes of my sleeping procrastination was not having enough free time during the day. The combination of my full-time job and my blogging side hustle left little or no time for pleasurable activities. So in the evening, when I didn’t have any more energy to work on anything else, I was trying to recover my free time and finally take a break. But that affected my sleeping quality, which made me more tired every day.
To stop procrastinating sleep, I forced myself into taking more breaks, increasing my productivity. Now that I sleep better, I can produce more in less time.
6 — Don’t stay in front of your phone before sleep.
I also discovered that blue light has a similar effect on our brain to caffeine because it blocks the hormone that makes us sleepy (melatonin). However, reducing the time I stayed in front of my phone or computer before sleeping was challenging, so I tried to solve the problem with blue light filters (like f.lux).
The results were not incredible, but my sleep got better overall, so I am satisfied for now. In the future, I am planning to introduce some relaxing activities in my night routine, like reading books or having creativity sessions.
7 — Don’t eat in the same environment you work in.
Eating in the same environment you work in is a big red flag that looms over your productivity. The main reason is the negative effect of taking breaks without changing the work environment that keeps you from relaxing completely.
There will always be irrelevant tasks that you forgot to do. And since you are close enough, you will end up doing them. Over time, this behavior ruins your breaks and enhances procrastination patterns.
8 — Don’t put everything on your desk.
I always tended to leave things around the house and never find them anymore. But this behavior distracted me because it always made me lose much time searching for them.
Having so many things on your desk ruins productivity. Every time you search for the pen, you find a few other things that could distract you for a couple of minutes. First, because you may want to put them back. And second, because you may want to use it.
So try to maintain a clean working space and not put everything on your desk.
9 — Don’t be a perfectionist.
According to Meagan Drillinger, perfectionism, procrastination, and paralysis create a vicious cycle that keeps us from achieving our goals. So perfectionism is another one of the 10 behaviors I have to avoid to break the cycle and live a better life.
To beat my perfectionism tendency, I am using the 80% rule. So each time I feel like I reached 80% of the desired result, I stop working on a task and move forward. This worked well with my articles and related activities like writing email replies.
10 — Don’t change your productivity system too frequently.
If you read my article on the perfect productivity system, you may try different techniques at a high frequency. But this mindset is a crucial procrastination enhancer and a productivity slowdown.
Many times I switched systems because I felt like I could not change. But in reality, it takes time to adapt and discover the strengths of each methodology, so I should be more patient. And therefore, I am forcing myself into keeping any type of system for at least two weeks before giving up on it.
Lately, I have been working on my procrastination a lot. First, I spotted the 20 most dangerous time-wasters of my routine. And then, I made a not-to-do list with 10 simple behaviors to avoid to enhance my productivity.
From all these behaviors, three are more dangerous than the others. Multitasking makes you split attention between two or more tasks, limiting your speed and efficiency. Perfectionism forces you to lose time over the same task even if you completed it many times. And sleeping deprivation forbids you from relaxing correctly and being in the best form for the day.
These were the 10 simple behaviors to avoid if you want to live an incredible life.
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