January 10, 2022

6 Procrastination Triggers And How To Overcome Them As A Designer

Reading Time: 7 mins

Procrastination can strike at any time.

Whether it’s staring at a blank page first thing in the morning or drinking a third cup of coffee to face organizing your emails at 3 pm, the urge to procrastinate is always hiding. It’s our lizard brain in action trying to keep us on the easiest path possible.

The result of procrastination is that your work doesn’t get done.

Sure, you might start work on some other task but only to avoid the big important task on the top of your list. However, as a designer, spending time organizing your Figma file isn’t the same as finalizing that mockup for a client.

Procrastination can be difficult to overcome but the key is to become aware of it and learn how to tackle it depending on what form it takes.

In this article, I’ll share with you what I know about procrastination triggers (the things that cause you to procrastinate) and how to overcome them.

This Task Is Boring

A boring task is very hard to concentrate on. You struggle to stay awake while working on these types of tasks. For me, this includes email management and small admin tasks that don’t need a lot of brainpower.

Here are some things to try if a task is boring:

This Task Is Difficult

A task can be difficult to work on when you don’t understand a complex concept or a particular way of doing something.

Here’s how to overcome difficult tasks:

This Task Is Frustrating

A task can be frustrating for lots of reasons. For me, it’s when I don’t know what’s expected of me from my boss. For you, it might be when you don’t know the due date for a project or you are working with someone challenging.

With all that in mind, here are some things to try:

This Task Is Lacking In Any Personal Meaning

It’s hard to find the motivation to work on something that has no personal meaning for you.

Fortunately, there are some simple actions you can take:

This Task Is Not Fun Or Rewarding

With a lot of knowledge work, it can be hard to find the reward at the end. Publishing a blog post doesn’t immediately get you anything, submitting a color palette to your team doesn’t either.

With that said, here are some ways to reward yourself:

This Task Is Unstructured

An unstructured task is like a tangled mess of cables. You don’t know where to start to clear up the mess.

Here are some techniques to add structure to a task:

As you can see, the best way to overcome procrastination is to understand which triggers are at play then take steps to reverse them.

Make a boring task more exciting, make an unstructured task more structured, etc.

Before we finish, here’s a little bit of homework for you. I highly recommend making your own list of procrastination triggers and techniques you can apply to overcome them. This would be a great resource to have the next time you feel the urge to procrastinate.

Most of what I learned to write this article came from the book: The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey. I highly recommend this book if you’re totally new to productivity (after you read Getting Things Done of course - you should read that first).

This article started life as a Twitter thread which you can find here: Original Thread