If this is your first time trying to tackle procrastination in earnest, there are a number of small changes you can make in your daily life that can have a big impact.
Get Organized: As a stubborn teenager, I used to refuse to use a planner, insisting I could keep track of everything in my head. It was only when I started really tracking my to-dos in college that I realized how silly that was — being organized helped me stay on track. "Whether it means keeping a list, writing on Post-Its or a productivity app, find something that works for you," Bruett says. Write down all your tasks, and tackle them in order of priority.
Eliminate Distractions: It may seem like a no-brainer, but many procrastinators fail to truly remove themselves from the people, things and situations that divert their attention. "Close your email client, shut off any Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn (etc.) notifications, silence your ringer, shut off the television, etc. If you need noise, play instrumental or classical music," says Maura Thomas, author of Personal Productivity Secrets.
Start Small: Breaking large tasks into baby steps is a much less intimidating way to tackle a project. Career coach Carlota Zimmerman recommends doing at least two small acts each day. "Do those two acts and write them down — I encourage clients to keep 'Action Diaries,' so as to have a (paper) trail of their acts, since it's very encouraging and empowering," she says. The rush you get from one small win often motivates you to continue your good behavior.
Reward Yourself: There's a reason teachers used to put gold stars on excellent tests and essays — those small rewards work! "Use positive reinforcement to motivate yourself to achieve your goals," Bruett says. "If you keep on track for a whole week, maybe reward yourself with a massage or a nice dinner."