I consider myself a connoisseur of productivity apps. That’s not something I’m proud of though, considering the reason behind my expertise.

I’m a chronic procrastinator.

Accepting this flaw and recognizing why it affects me has been a long process, but don’t congratulate me just yet. Acceptance is simple and requires no action.

I’ve learned that if I want to keep my bad habit of procrastination at bay, I need to completely absorb myself in the art of productivity. I could accomplish this by walling myself into a nearly impregnable fortress of apps with a strict schedule, in an attempt to force good habits.

However, that’s a ridiculous and flawed strategy. Instead, my final formula is one of slow and steady work that forces me confront my weaknesses, recognize my positive traits, and manage my time responsibly.

Step One: Goals

Before you begin to battle procrastination, you should have a list of your go-to time wasting activities. Much like a good friend, these time wasters are always there for you when you need them. But unlike a good friend, they serve only to drag you down and prevent you from accomplishing important tasks.

Once you have a list, pick one bad habit to give up. The goal could be as simple as not checking Facebook until lunchtime or ignoring phone notifications for an hour.

Starting off slowly and building up is the best way to manage yourself so you don’t burn out. If you start off with “run the 100m faster than Usain Bolt,” you’re asking for disappointment.

Be realistic and play to your strengths when beginning this process.

Step Two: Scheduling

A schedule is crucial in the war against procrastination. It’s not likely feasible for most of you to have your entire day planned, but you should start by setting a specific time aside to do your most important task.

For me, this time would be early in the morning and the task would be writing. I’ve discovered through experience that mornings are crucial to my productivity.

The key is knowing when you’re at your best on a typical day, so you can accomplish the most during that time.

Step Three: Tools

Once you’ve confronted your bad habits, created reachable goals, and have a schedule ready to be tested, you’ll need some tools of the trade.

At first, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer amount of productivity apps on the market. But before you go spending your money on an expensive Get Things Done (GTD) app, such as OmniFocus, ask yourself what you need from a productivity app. If you simply need to add tasks, choose due dates, and simple reminders, there are plenty of free and very functional options that get the job done.

Two of the most simple solutions are:

  • Wunderlist (Free) — My current to-do list app and a great starting point for those new to productivity apps. It syncs across Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. Also, it’s one of our recommended apps to help form good habits.
  • Fantastical ($9.99 on Mac, $4.99 on iPhone) — A lovely Mac and iPhone app without too many frills. Conveniently in the menubar whenever needed, it works for all types of users and is great for those looking for a combination calendar and task manager. (I reviewed it previously in post on Mac productivity apps.)

There is no right or wrong app for productivity though. The right app is the one that works for you; and it may take a lot of time to find one that effectively meets your needs.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, defeating procrastination is not an option. It will, however, always find a way to defeat you — even on your best of days. This strategy I’ve devised works well under the right conditions, but life is full of variables that ruin plans and expectations.

The way to not let those variables completely upend your productivity is to become a variable yourself and realize that you have to adapt to survive.

Image Source: Aaron Concannon