5 Simple Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get Stuff Done

Tell me if any of this sounds familiar:

You have this important piece of work to get done. Or maybe six. There's a big deadline looming, you've got the whole day ahead of you to work as hard as you can - and do you know what? It isn't even that difficult. You've done stuff like it before, and you'll probably have to do it again at some point.

But as you stare at your blank computer screen, you can just feel yourself twitching. Your hand moves, almost of its own accord, and suddenly there's a new tab on the horizon. That new tab, within seconds, has wandered over to Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and goodness knows what else.

The situation is so dire that after about half an hour, you find yourself reading some random post about how to get work done. Because reading about it is practically doing it, right?

Wrong. But if you're here, I might as well give you some tips:

#1 ~ Use ambient noise

Yes, I can see the weird look you're giving me right now. It's pretty obvious even through the screen. But however weird it sounds when I tell you that silence can be distracting, I'm going to need you to try listening to some computer generated sounds in the background next time you work - and no, I don't mean your favourite YouTube channel or the latest episode of Sherlock.

Not that I can remember a time when there was a latest episode of Sherlock to watch, but you get what I mean.

I tend to use RainyMood.com, which I love mostly because of its simplicity. All you have to do is enter the URL, wait a few seconds for it to load, and hit play - there's no need to go anywhere near YouTube, which frankly I don't have the willpower to do -  and it's also on a handy half-hour loop, so when the sounds stop for a few seconds, it's a great time to get up, stretch and take a break from whatever it is you've been doing.

If rain isn't your thing, then you could also go for white noise, bird calls, or even whale song. Classical music is also great provided you aren't the kind of person who's going to spend hours finding the exact right piece to fit your mood.

Having a variety of sounds is also really useful because, after a few months of using the same one, I've found that my brain gets kind of used to the noise and it doesn't work as well. I resorted to some Mozart for a few days when that happened last time, and now I'm back on my lovely rain noises.

#2 ~ Get out of the house

You may not be surprised to learn that I am currently typing this post from the World and Family History section of my local library. It's nice for a lot of reasons, but I think the main motivator for me right now is that I've made the effort. I got up early, dragged my Dad out of bed in order to drive me here, and now I'm actually taking up a valuable study table - I find it very difficult to justify doing all that only to get sucked into YouTube, if I'm honest.

Another thing I love about libraries in particular is the air of concentration. Being surrounded by other people working just as hard always spurs me on to work; I don't know quite why I've decided that everyone else would somehow know if I was procrastinating and judge me for it, but the feeling does tend to make me type quickly.

Don't forget - libraries are by no means the only place you can go to work! If they make you uncomfortable or are too far away or you're just looking for a more casual vibe, then school study centres or even local cafes can be of great assistance.

#3 ~ Shut that computer!

This, not-so-shockingly, is the one tip I haven't managed to put into practice while blogging today - which goes to show that it's not always possible. That said, you should always find a way to try, because it can be really, really effective provided that you manage to resist the waves of temptation coming off your lovely shiny laptop for an hour or two. I'm that bad at self-control that I've been known to convince a friend to hide it from me, and only reveal its location once I can provide them with evidence of finished homework or whatever.

They take far too much joy in frustrating me, if I'm honest. It's a tad worrying.

The thing to remember about this tip is that you can use it a lot more often than you think. I do most of my schoolwork / blog stuff / world domination online these days too, but I can always find odd bits of a task that can be done by hand, be that planning, writing out a rough draft, or even (shock horror) doing research with actual books! Spend some time figuring out exactly what you can do, and ... do it.

Basically, anything that allows you to get started while avoiding even the possibility of procrastination online is always worth it in the end.

#4 ~ Use Fighter's Block

Fighter's Block is a free, in-browser piece of writing software which turns your word processor into a video game. You enter a word goal, choose a character and monster, then - FIGHT!

For every word you take out of the goal, your monster's health bar drops further - and for every moment you're not typing, it takes a little bit of health out of your character. There are so many tiny things I love about this software, from the animation (which is simple enough not to distract you from what you're writing, but cute enough to spur you on) to the ability to choose different characters (so I can keep my blogging separate from my school work and my school work separate from my writing) to the fact that you can actually change the monster's speed and attack strength based on how quickly you're able to type.
This particular feature was really helpful for me because my disability makes my fine motor skills kind of funky, so I struggle to type as quickly as a lot of people. But the custom difficulty really does make it possible to defeat as many monsters as I please.

Oh, and did I mention that achieving your word goal adds XP to your character? The more words you've written in the past, the more points you get - and points = levels, so ...

If I'm being completely honest, the only thing that convinced me to start writing this post today was the possibility of another thousand points.

#5 ~ Just. Get. Started.

In the end, it literally makes no difference how much time you've spent looking up the perfect combination of classical music and pattering raindrops, or how many miles you've travelled to find your ideal studying location, if all you're going to do is sit there, listening, and stare into space. Or surf Twitter.

Please trust me here when I say that I absolutely get how hard it is (I'm speaking from literally hours of personal experience) and I'm not judging you for it in any way whatsoever. But if you want to get finished, then you're going to have to get started.

Write a word. Now write another word. Now, try a sentence! Good. You're on a roll. Don't stop until you've done what you wanted to, and if you really have to get up to use the toilet or something, stop slap-bang in the middle of a sentence. Then you'll at least have something to pick up from when you get back.

Now what are you still doing on the internet? Bookmark my blog and get out of here!

In the comments: Do you have any preferred techniques for avoiding procrastination? Or have you tried any of these? Please - I think I have a problem, and I'm desperately in need of techniques!
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  1. I'm having serious problems with writing ANYTHING at the moment. There's this little voice in the back of my head telling me that it's just not good enough and messing up my concentration. It doesn't NEED to be good enough! It just has to be words on paper! I'm going to try some of these. Great post! XD

    1. Aww, little voices like that are the WORST! When mine is being especially annoying, I find Fighter's Block really useful, but I've seen a great tip online to pretend that your little voice is someone you really hate (I think the example used was Donald Trump, but feel free to choose your own despicable monster) - apparently it's a lot easier to tell it to shut up.

  2. Ahhhhhh, I've been procrastinating like crazy today. xD Your posts always come at the perfect times. Great advice! I've seen programs like Fighter's Block before but haven't checked them out yet, so I think I'll do that now. Yay for ambient noise! I use this site a lot: https://harry-potter-sounds.ambient-mixer.com/ravenclaw-common-room The Ravenclaw Common Room is my ambient noise of choice most of the time, but they have ALL kinds of stuff from books, movies, TV shows, you name it. It feeds my fangirl soul.


      *comes back like an hour later*

      Now the thing is, Kate, all you've done there is give me another place to procrastinate in ;-). It's so LOVELY, though.

      I hope you enjoy Fighter's Block as much as I've been ... but if you're really wondering why my posts are always so timely, then I'll have to confess about the stalking I've been doing - NOT. NOT, I SWEAR.

      Let me know about the results!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I like ambient noise, too. It often helps soothe me a bit (or dull the anxiety and racing thoughts). Ah, that Fighter Block thing would stress me out too much, but it's a good resource for others, I'm sure. Have you checked out noisli (https://www.noisli.com/)? And then, there's the wonderful: https://movies.ambient-mixer.com/ which has some movie-themed ambient noise. My favorite (naturally) are the Harry Potter ones. Check out the Weasley ones. Super cute.
    (These resources, I heard of them through the lovely Mollie Reads. Here's a link to the video where she mentions them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWW9nbqGXss )

    1. First off, I'm really sorry it's taken me so long to reply. School re-entered my life and life got busy and ... yeah. I'm here now.

      Fighter's Block can be very stressful, so obviously it won't work for everyone, but I'm really glad I'm not the only weirdo who loves ambient noise. I'm just going to run over to Noisli for a sec and I'll be back in no time, I promise.

      *returns approximately seven hours later*

      Woah, now that is an amazing website. I'm bookmarking it RIGHT NOW. Um, what was I talking about? Weasley ambient noise?

      *returns after another several hours clicking around*


  5. To-do lists where you break down tasks to teenier tasks tend to work pretty good for me. Plus, for some reason, I get more sh** done when I work less... still trying to figure out how/why! (Especially since I have a huge tendency to over-work!)

    But yes, making a start - any kind of start - can be uber helpful. There's a Welsh proverb: 'Deuparth gwaith yw ei ddechrau' - which means 'starting the work is two-thirds of it.' (I prefer it to the English version, 'starting is half the work' because 2/3 is bigger than 1/2! Lol!) :)

    1. Huge apologies for how long this reply comment took to appear. Apparently exams make life busy - who knew?

      I, too, have a huge tendency to overwork, which is incredibly problematic. Personally though, I find that splitting up tasks just makes me feel more overwhelmed because it looks like there's more stuff to do? Each to their own, I guess!

      I LOVE your Welsh proverb - and its use of 2/3 obviously makes it better than the English one. Now if I could just pronounce it ...

    2. Haha, here's a simplified phonetic version (to the best of my ability!):

      Doy-parth = Deuparth

      gwaith - g+wai as in English 'why'+th

      ew (as in ew, yuck!) = yw

      I/eye = ei

      long 'th' = dd; eh+'ch' as in Scots pronunciation of 'loch' = ech; rye=rau.
      (so th+ehch+rye = ddechrau.)

      You probably don't care that much, but I couldn't resist! (And just be glad the letter 'ng' isn't in there, because I have no idea how to explain that one!)

    3. And I thought French pronunciation was hard!

    4. Ha, it's not the easiest language - but it's not too hard, as long as you look at it logically. (And copy Welsh people where possible - because English pronunciation of Welsh words is often physically painful. Also, I don't know why, but English people seem to struggle with the name Geraint - which is really easy!)

    5. Did I seriously not reply to this comment already? I'M SO SO SORRY CEE I THOUGHT I HAD I'M JUST GOING TO DISSOLVE INTO A SMALL STICKY PUDDLE NOW.

      Anyway, there's only one thing to do now ... Gerr-eyent? That's what they say when they're talking about Geraint Thomas on the TV, anyway. Have I been sadly mistaken all my life?


      That looks like it'd sound about right... if that makes any sense! The 'r' should be shorter, and on the second syllable, and make sure it's an 'I' sound rather than an 'ay' sound! So Geh-(rye+nt) Lol. It's ok, I'll stop tormenting you with Welsh now ;)

  6. This post could not have come at a better time (considering that I'm procrastinating writing an essay by blog hopping). I never thought about the ambient noise thing, but now that you mention it, silence is actually so distracting. Strange!

    Great post, I can't wait to put it into practice.

    1. (First off, sorry a thousand times for the long delay in replying. It turns out exams are time-consuming.)

      Aww, I'm so glad you found this useful! Honestly, the idea that silence can be distracting was basically revolutionary for me - I hope it's helpful to you, too.

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