It’s the day before your deadline. You’ve got a fresh cup of coffee, a fully charged laptop, and a Post-It on your pillow reminding you to finish that project before you go to sleep. You open a web browser to begin—and three hours later, for some reason, your Google doc is still blank and your tabs are open to your best friend’s ex’s Insta and the British monarchy’s Wikipedia page. (Why, tho?)
Procrastination attacks the best of us—but you don’t have to keep struggling. Here are some high-key helpful steps to get out of your rut and start crushing your to-do list.
Kick off your efficiency streak by tackling little non-work-related tasks first, whether that’s folding your pajamas or taking out the trash. “I’ll clean my room beforehand to get into the working mindset,” says Angela H., 21. “That way, I’m warmed up and ready to be more productive.”
Put on some pants—and get outta the house.
Sometimes a desk just doesn’t do it. Mixing up your workspace can make you focus more too, says career expert Lauren McGoodwin, founder and CEO of Career Contessa. “Go to a coffee shop, cowork space, public university, or a library,” she says. For Rachel M., 22, getting out of the house can create a more clear mind-space; it helps signal that it’s time to get to work. “Being in public is definitely the best,” she says. “Because then you feel shamed by everyone around you.” You see them making moves, so you make moves. It’s basically science.
Use all the apps.
Become a productivity beast with free organizing apps like Todoist and Any.do, which can keep track of time and tasks and send you notifications when a deadline’s approaching. Or use web blockers like Self Control or Freedom, which let you limit the time you spend on certain sites (thank u, next, Twitter).
Whether it’s a scoop of the Ben & Jerry’s in the freezer or an episode of Russian Doll in the queue, tangible rewards for finishing your tasks can incentivize you to get to work, according to a study from the Academy of Management. Try giving yourself one big reward a day. “I tell myself, ‘After you finish this project, you can take a 20-minute walk to the fancy coffee shop,’” says McGoodwin.
Take a perfectly timed break.
According to one recent study, you can attain peak productivity by working for a solid 52 minutes and then taking a luxurious 17-minute break to do whatever the eff you want. (Snacks. Definitely snacks.) Set a timer to keep you on track.
Actually, yeah, sweat the small stuff.
You don’t have to answer every email or fill out your entire wedding seating chart in one go. “You just have to take one small step,” says Rashelle Isip, founder of productivity site The Order Expert. So, if you’re trying to get to inbox zero, set a goal to send three responses. Then build up to more. “This will help you break through any initial resistance or hesitation.”
Embrace the one-minute rule.
Saumya K., 23, relies on Outer Order, Inner Calm author Gretchen Rubin’s one-minute rule to fight procrastination. “If anything takes less than a minute, do it now,” she says. “So I’ve started making my bed in the morning, no matter how late I am, doing my dishes right after using them, and trying to respond to direct texts as soon as I read them.” All of this helps you overcome the looming dread of not having done stuff.
This article first appeared in Cosmopolitan.com