12 Home Project Procrastination Hacks That Beat Your Brain at Its Own Game
They say the most challenging part of any project is getting started, but the real test is taking a task to the finish line. Procrastination can strike before you even begin a project, but it can also convince you to walk away indefinitely—even after you’ve started.
While procrastination may feel completely justified at the time, putting off a task doesn’t make it go away. If you lack the motivation and discipline to turn your to-do list into a finished list, try these procrastination hacks and stop getting in your way.
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1. Start small
It is better to do something than nothing. Pick small tasks on your to-do list that take just a few minutes, like organizing a single kitchen drawer. Achieving a win, no matter how small, can help trick your brain into thinking the other projects aren’t so daunting. When you start achieving things, you gain momentum, and then starting more projects is more manageable.
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2. Find some friendly accountability
Doing something for yourself might not give you enough incentive. You may need a third party to hold you accountable for completing tasks. Having another person invested in a project can help you be more productive, as you likely want them to perceive you positively.
This person does not have to be your project manager; there are other benefits to having them around while you work on your to-do list. In fact, some people find that they are more motivated to complete a task when they have an audience.
3. Use technology
Download a productivity app or set a timer to stay on task. The Engross app or the stopwatch on your phone can be used for the Pomodoro technique – you set a timer and work without distraction until the alarm goes off, giving you a short break. Set your alarm for a 5-minute break before you have another focused work session. A timer alerts you to your limited work window, helping you concentrate on the task at hand.
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4. Work on projects you enjoy
There is bound to be one item on your procrastination project list that you find interesting or fun. Dive into it. Choosing projects that bring you joy tends to increase productivity. Enjoyable tasks make progress more effortless, since reaching a project goal line provides motivation to continue on other projects.
5. Give yourself deadlines
To put it simply: no deadline, no motivation. When it comes to goal setting, they say that achievable goals must be time-bound, making this procrastination hack a no-brainer. By setting yourself a firm deadline for a project—whether a deadline is required or not—you give yourself a little push to achieve it.
Deadlines help create a sense of urgency and stress, which sends your brain into productivity mode. Home improvement projects tend to have open completion dates, so set those deadlines and get started.
6. Reward yourself
What motivates you? A sweet treat, watching your favorite show, a new drill? Create your own reward system for completing projects on your to-do list and enjoy the benefits it brings to your brain. Reward yourself with each completed task.
Rewards increase dopamine and help create a positive feedback loop that your brain associates with completing tasks. You should start to feel better about completing tasks because you know you’ll receive a reward when you finish, making procrastination much less likely.
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7. Create subtasks
Starting a massive project is a lot like staring at the top of a mountain from sea level. It can be too intimidating and can scare you from starting the work. To avoid this overwhelming feeling, break large projects into small, manageable tasks. Sure, this procrastination hack makes your to-do list look a lot longer, but these small tasks are easier to complete and quickly add up to big progress.
8. Make an actual to-do list
Stop having the to-do list in your head. Take a few minutes to write down everything you need or want to complete – remember to break your big tasks down into smaller tasks. By creating an actionable list that you keep somewhere convenient, you can see what needs to be done to complete your projects. When you start crossing items off this list, your brain releases dopamine, which propels you forward, leaving procrastination in the dust.
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9. Change your environment
Procrastination is a crutch when we do something or have to be somewhere we don’t particularly like. Make some changes if your workspace, garage, or other project areas don’t feel inviting. Store your favorite snacks there, play an entertaining podcast, hang some decor you love, or do whatever creates a gravitational pull to the area. Adding fun features to your workspace helps you draw in, making it easier to make progress on your to-do list.
10. Consider project work as fitness
Home improvement projects can require a lot of effort, between lifting and carrying heavy objects, walking up and down ladders, or running around to find everything you need. Completing any of these projects requires a lot of strength and physical fitness.
Instead of thinking of these projects as tasks or to-do lists, this procrastination hack reframes the activity. For example, you don’t change tires; you work towards your fitness goals with strength training (it takes muscle to lift the tires off the ground). Putting a different spin on your to-do list can help give you some incentive to complete your tasks.
11. Consider certain projects as a type of self-care
There is usually a reason why you need to do every home improvement project on your list. They will often influence your life for the better. For example, you don’t just lay new floors; you create a beautiful place for yoga or meditation.
It’s not just about improving your space either. Certain tasks can also improve your mental health, which can increase their importance on your to-do list. Repetitive tasks can also be healthy – painting a wall, sanding down some wood, vacuuming or knitting are all tasks that help release stress and anxiety.
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12. Call for reinforcements
Sometimes the best way to get something done is to call in a professional. Instead of trying to convince yourself that you can get the skills for a particular home improvement job, recognize that specific tasks may be out of your depth—and that’s okay.
Hire someone who can get the job done. Tasks covered by professional trades, such as plumbing and electrical work, should not be undertaken by the average DIYer. Hiring out some of the jobs around the home ensures that they are not only done, but done safely and correctly.
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