How to level up your focus and get shit done
Productivity is a tough topic.
Every year, I am hosting several workshops on how to be more productive instead of busy, and so far, every event was well attended.
For many people, being more productive sounds super sexy, and they join my workshop, hoping to receive a holy grail to uplevel their performance.
Yet, the truth is that they often don’t learn anything particularly new. Most participants have already read books and watched videos about productivity before they join such seminars.
They already know most of the strategies.
But they don’t apply them.
They believe there is more they need to know before practicing the tactics they are aware of.
Well…guess what? That’s bullshit.
No matter if it’s about productivity, strengthening your confidence, improving your relationships, or becoming better in public speaking — it’s never about the bunch of information you collect.
Having ten strategies to improve your productivity in mind doesn’t help as long as you don’t apply a single one of them.
Look, I know that’s not sexy, and I know you don’t want to hear it, but personal growth is not about reading and learning. It’s about applying knowledge.
Reading is easy, putting your phone away for a few hours and work productively is hard, I know.
I read more than 100 personal development books until I could finally transform my life. I felt as if I needed more and more information. As if there were some significant points I was missing out.
But that was not true.
All I needed to do was put the books away and finally start doing what I’ve been reading about for two years.
I know it sounds quite straightforward, but applying knowledge is what most people struggle with.
However, you clicked on this article because you want to get some practical ways on how to stop procrastination, and obviously, I’d be a jerk if I’d not deliver them.
So, here are my most effective ways to stop procrastination which, if applied, can transform the way you focus and get work done:
Create a not-to-do list
Sometimes, life is not about the things we do but about the things we stop doing.
When procrastination hits, we tend to end up doing unnecessary tasks. Instead of creating productive outputs, we keep ourselves busy with stuff, things that don’t matter.
However, through a little bit of self-reflection and a lot of discipline, we can tackle this problem and create more productive and joyful workdays.
“A change in bad habits leads to a change in life.”
— Jenny Craig
How to do it:
Whenever you find yourself being busy with stuff that doesn’t lead to any significant outcome, write it down.
Create a list of all the distractions you face during your day over a few days.
Once you did that for around three days, you will see how many of these activities repeat themselves.
Now, create your not-to-do list.
Write a list that includes all the bad habits keeping you busy throughout your day.
Some of the examples most of my participants have in common are:
- Not checking social media during work hours
- Not allowing push notifications on my devices
- Not checking emails all the time but instead having fixed time-blocks to tackle them
The list goes on and on.
Figure out what your main distractions throughout your days are and write them down properly. Then, put them on your desk so that you get reminded to avoid them.
Sometimes, we procrastinate because we are too hard on ourselves.
I love being productive, I love being kickass and getting shit done, but I also love enjoying myself.
Why would I work hard if I don’t also reward myself for my achievements?
I don’t see any point in working my ass off without reaping the rewards, but unfortunately, that’s what many people do all the time.
We get so caught up in producing outcomes that we forget caring about ourselves. As a result, our productivity level drops, and we start procrastinating.
Admittedly, I’ve been one of those people for more than a year. I struggled to reward myself and thought I could only stop when I am done or when I’ve achieved something significant.
But guess what?
That doesn’t happen.
We are never done.
Our whole life is a work in progress. There is always something new to learn and explore. There is always something we can improve.
That’s what makes life fun. Therefore, it is crucial to schedule self-care dates with ourselves and reward ourselves from time to time, even if without specific outcomes to be proud of.
How to do it:
Plan your rewards. Don’t let your pleasures be dependent on outcomes.
Instead, focus on rewarding yourself regularly. You don’t need to accomplish great things to enjoy yourself.
You can also treat yourself well for not freaking out and keep going despite struggles.
Come up with a few ideas of activities you’ve wanted to do for a long time and schedule them in your calendar as appointments with yourself.
You are the most important person in your life, so make sure to take well care of yourself.
Plan your work beforehand
This is one of the major game-changers for me.
99 % of the time, when I procrastinate, it’s because I don’t have my shit together. It’s because I don’t have a plan on how to tackle the day.
On the contrary, I have my most productive days when I prepare my to-do list the night before. This also allows me to get rid of all the distractions and create a clutter-free workspace.
I am working from home, and our apartment is pretty small, so getting rid of clutter and keeping my workspace tidy is not as easy as it sounds like.
Yet, it’s absolutely crucial if I want to work productively.
How to do it:
Plan your workdays in advance. Don’t start your days by writing your to-do-list. Doing so often drains your energy before the day has even begun.
Instead, prepare everything on the night before and ensure a clutter-free workspace and a clear mind in the morning.
Do only one thing at a time
We all know the trap of multitasking…it feels as if we’d get a lot done while not getting anything done at all.
Tackling one task after the other is one of the easiest yet most powerful ways to deal with procrastination.
Whenever we try to do multiple things at a time, the odds of getting distracted are high.
How to do it:
Focus on one task after the other.
If possible, work in a deep work mode, fully concentrating on one single to-do after the other.
What works best for many people is writing down one single task, setting a timer for around 30 minutes, eliminating all distractions, and entirely focusing on tackling that task for the next 30 minutes.
If you’ve never done that before, half an hour is going to feel like a veeeeery long time. In that case, you can also start with 15 or 20 minutes.
You will be surprised by how much you can get done if you work with a deep focus for 15 minutes. Just try it out.
Imagine the feeling of getting it done
We all love getting shit done. It just feels great. Thus, imaging ourselves how we tackle our to-do list and win the day is an incredibly powerful technique to overcome procrastination.
You might already be familiar with how creating vision boards and visualizing your ideal future life can help to achieve your biggest goals. However, you can also use these techniques in your day-to-day life.
How to do it:
Whenever I feel overwhelmed and find myself procrastinating, I stop for a minute. I stand up, leave my desk, take some deep breaths, and do a few stretching exercises. For me, that’s easy as I am working from home, but even if you are working in a crowded office, it’s possible.
In the worst case, you can go to the bathroom. That’s not particularly sexy, but who cares as long as it’s useful?
While he was employed, my boyfriend was even meditating in the bathroom of his office.
And it helped him.
These little meditations and visualization exercises helped him to stay calm, positive and serving. He often had to deal with tough customers and had a stressful job. Getting out of the business for a few minutes, meditating and visualizing himself how he closed the deal and finished a successful day helped him to keep his energy high and stay positive.
Understand your motivation
Admittedly, this one is not the easiest point to cover, but it’s incredibly important. So, here we go:
Often, the reason behind procrastination is not a short-term problem but rather a foundational one.
Most people struggle to keep their focus and work productively if they don’t know why they are doing something. That’s a struggle particularly young people who step into employment face, but I also faced it in my first year as a full-time entrepreneur.
I was trying out different things, but I didn’t have the bigger picture in mind, which totally frustrated me.
I didn’t have a vision I was working towards, and as a result, I didn’t see any point in working more effectively.
Sadly, that’s one of the major problems of people who procrastinate.
Admittedly, that’s not an easy struggle to solve. It needs a lot of honest self-reflection and probably some significant decisions to make big changes in your life.
How to do it:
If you feel like all the productivity tips don’t help you, you might lack a foundational motivation to get your stuff done.
You might not see the big picture, a why, anymore.
In most cases, we know that we are not motivated to finish a project or keep going with a certain job quite quickly. However, we try to neglect it as we believe we should perform well and give our best.
Yet, that’s not true. Spending your time and energy on something that doesn’t fulfill you is not smart at all.
You have one single life to live, and your goal should be to live every single day with pure joy and happiness. That’s not possible if you keep doing things that don’t fulfill you. Instead, practice self-reflection, be honest to yourself, and decide to make profound changes in order to live your happiest life.
This is one of my absolute favorites.
On my phone, I have an app called “Affirmation Reminder”, which helps me to stay positive and productive throughout my days. Through the app, you can create lists of affirmations.
Affirmations are powerful mantras, statements that empower you to give your best and stay motivated.
So, I created a list of affirmations that most inspire me, and what the app does is nothing more than reminding me of them throughout my day.
I get 5–10 notifications per day with one of my powerful affirmations.
This is not only a motivation-booster, but it also helps me to stop procrastination.
Whenever I get these notifications while I am procrastinating, I find it much easier to stop and get back to a productive work state.
How to do it:
You can download the free “Affirmation Reminder” app (or any other app that does the same) or just set several alarms on your phone, however, make sure to put them on mute.
What I also do is putting motivational reminders on everything that I see or use daily. For instance, my journal is full of them, or my laptop desktop. At home, we even have a whole door that is full of motivational mantras.
Whenever we are sitting at our coach scrolling through social media feeds and wasting our time, we get reminded to stop and get back to work (or enjoy some quality time).
Eliminating procrastination and working productively is not as hard as it seems like.
In fact, it’s about two major things:
- Knowing why you do what you do: Having a strong desire to accomplish your tasks and reach your goals, being intrinsically motivated to give your best and improve yourself every day.
- And creating a distraction-free environment: Getting rid of notifications, clutter, and anything else that might lead to a waste of time. Planning ahead so that you can get to work and start your day productively right in the morning.
If you keep these two points in mind and reflect on them regularly, being productive instead of busy will come easily.
However, never forget to enjoy yourself in the whole process. Achieving great goals is fantastic, but so is taking some time off to do the things you love and be around your favorite people.
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