9 Ways to Outwit Productive Procrastination

Shouldn’t you be            .

It’s a common scenario, I sit down to my laptop, coffee in hand and then suddenly the dryer alarm goes off. Staring at the bank screen, I internally debate. With a deep sigh I get up and switch out the clothes, listing out all the things I need to get done for the day before finally sitting down in front of that blank screen again.

…Maybe I should clean the bathrooms?

What is strange is I love to write, it’s my passion, but when it feels like something I HAVE to do, suddenly my mind blanks and all life’s obligation start to tap at the edge.

I am the master of productive procrastination, here are a few strategies I use to prevent and battle distractions—event he productive ones.


9 Ways to Outwit Productive Procrastination

1) Get. Out. Of. The. House.

I know, I know, the sun and people *hissssssss*, but sacrifices must be made. Not only does it get me a daily dose of vitamin D, but an outing limits the distractions. Also, if I’ve put this much effort into dragging my but out into society, I’m going to get the reward of writing.

2)  Do a goal sprint.

Homebound? No problem, set a timer. It can be one in your head, on your phone, or the kindly droid in the corner, but give yourself a specific amount of time where you do the thing and only that thing. Starting with 15 minutes usually works well and I cherish my 30 minute writing sprints (it’s how I finished this newsletter.)

3) Set up a support system.

Doing a sprint? Do it with others and report back at the end of it with your progress. For NaNoWriMo I found the write-ins to be a wonderful motivator and I enjoyed cheering everyone else as well.

4) Clean out a workspace.

Creatives tend to have messy workspaces; it’s part of the process—I call mine chaotic organization. Having a designated area that is clear of distractions can make focus easier, it may even be in a different part of the house or office.

5) Brain holding note.

Whether it’s a spiral notebook, napkin, or digital note app, have a space that you can dump that ‘oh yeah I need to…’ or, ‘hey this is a great concept…’ thoughts to deal with after your goal dedication. This way the idea doesn’t keep tapping on your brain AND you don’t forget it.

6) Bullet journaling.

A system championed by Ryder Carroll is an excellent way to organize thoughts and to-do’s to help with focus and productivity. It’s much easier to concentrate on your project when you know that you have time built out to do laundry later. Here’s a link to discover more. I also do a lot of bullet journaling and share spread under my Imperfect Writer’s Journal.

7) Music.

Music can help me get lost in a project. Find tunes that put you in the groove for what you want to achieve. At this point, everything seems to have a soundtrack; for writing, I prefer classical, while for cleaning I do pop music.

Bonus: Background white noise/sound can also help. I like to listen to coffee house during a storm or something similar on YouTube. I’ll try to make a playlist soon and share it here and on social media.

8) Dodge the procrastination loop.

Guilt and shame for procrastinating and/or not get the thing done can complicate things. At worse, it can result in a procrastination/avoiding loop that can escalate until the task seems nearly impossible. Calm that inner guilt demon with understanding and the knowledge that you can always do more now. In fact, you right now, for 15 minutes. Set the clock. I’ll be here when you get back.

9) Identify why you are procrastinating.

Are you unsure of the next step? Having a bout of imposter syndrome? Hungry? Overwhelmed? Identifying the root of the need to procrastinate can lead to a solution. Next time you find you are doing the dishes—again, perhaps you can look at why you walked away from your beloved project. After the dishes are all safely running in the dishwasher, focus on finding a solution and make that project become a reality.

The important thing is to find techniques that work for you and identify when you’re falling into the productive procrastination pit.

What anti-procrastination tips have worked well for you?


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