cat asleep on keyboard

Procrastination is an inescapable part of everyday life, but that doesn't mean you can't procrastinate productively. Time management experts (especially ridiculously efficient ones) are just as prone to procrastination as everyone else -- they just know how to keep their momentum going until they can return to the task at hand. The next time your productivity train derails, try one of these tactics to get back on track.

  1. Run an errand on your to-do list. Any errand counts -- it could be laundry, or the dishes, or a trip to the grocery store. The object of the game here is to escape from your workspace, get your muscles moving, allow your eyes to focus on mid- to long-distance objects, and let your brain slowly recharge by concentrating on something else. (Plus, you'll have crossed an item off your to-do list.)
  2. Complete a work-related to-do. Perhaps you're putting off responding to a lengthy email. Why not pump out a blog post or check your blog's traffic analytics instead? In doing so, you'll shave some more items off your to-do list, and you might build up enough momentum to give that dreaded email another shot afterward. Talk about time management!
  3. Exercise. It might sound counterproductive, but some people recharge their productivity through exercise. Head out for a walk in your neighborhood to get some fresh air, or do some yoga in a part of your home that's rich in natural light. A surgeon I know swears by his morning runs and muses about the brain activity he experiences about 60 minutes into a session. (My workout of choice is HIIT.)
  4. Break your most-dreaded task into bite-sized chunks. If you're tempted to procrastinate while writing, say, a chapter of your eBook, create a mind map or outline of the material you plan to cover. If you're procrastinating about writing a blog post, make a list of potential topics -- even if you don't want to write them out today. If you're trying to escape writing a lengthy email response, list the points you want to cover in bullet form. Then, do something else (this is procrastination, after all) for a few minutes. When you're ready, tackle your outline, list or mind map point by point, taking breaks as necessary.
  5. Make a deal with yourself. Sometimes all we need is a little reward to get started on a tough task. Set a hard deadline ("before noon," "in the next hour" or "before I do anything else" are good ones for productivity) and pick an attractive reward, whether it's the rest of the day off or a half hour to peruse the Reddit front page, for meeting the deadline.

How do you remain productive when you experience periods of procrastination?

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