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12 Home Project Procrastination Hacks That Beat Your Brain at Its Own Game

If ‘I’ll get to it later’ is your to-do list philosophy, you might need some help to overcome project procrastination. Try these hacks to trick yourself into tackling chores and tasks.
Kat Hodgins Avatar
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They say the most challenging part of any project is starting, but the real test is taking a task to the finish line. Procrastination can hit before you even begin a project, but it also might convince you to step away indefinitely—even after you’ve started.

Although procrastination might feel totally justified at the time, postponing a task does not make it disappear. If you lack the motivation and discipline to turn your to-do list into a done list, try these procrastination hacks and stop getting in your own way.

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1. Start Small

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It’s better to do something than nothing. Pick out small tasks on your to-do list that will take only a few minutes, like organizing a single kitchen drawer. Achieving a victory, no matter how small, may help trick your brain into thinking the other projects aren’t so intimidating. Once you start accomplishing items, you gain momentum, and then getting going on more projects is more manageable.

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2. Find Some Friendly Accountability

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Doing something for yourself may not provide you with enough incentive. You might need a third party to keep you accountable for completing tasks. Having another person invested in a project can help you become more productive, as you likely want them to perceive you positively.

This person doesn’t need to be your project manager; there are other benefits to having them present while you work on your task list. In fact, some people find they have better motivation to complete a task when they have an audience.

3. Use Technology

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Download a productivity app or set a timer to keep you 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 sounds, earning you a short break. Set the alarm for a 5-minute break before having another focused work session. A timer makes you aware of the limited work window, which helps you concentrate on the task at hand.

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4. Work on Projects You Enjoy

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There is bound to be one item on your procrastination project list that you find interesting or enjoyable. Dive into that one. Choosing projects that bring you joy tends to increase your productivity. Enjoyable tasks make progress more effortless, since reaching a project finish line offers the motivation to continue on other projects.

5. Give Yourself Deadlines

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To put it simply: no deadline, no motivation. In goal-setting, they say achievable goals need to be time-bound, making this procrastination hack a no-brainer. By setting yourself a firm deadline for a project—whether or not a deadline is required—you give yourself a little push to accomplish it.

Deadlines help create a sense of urgency and stress, which prompts your brain into productivity mode. Home improvement projects tend to have open-ended completion dates, so set those deadlines and get to work.

6. Reward Yourself

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What motivates you? A sweet treat, watching your favorite show, a new power drill? Create your own reward system for finishing projects on your to-do list, and enjoy the benefits it gives 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 feeling better about completing tasks because you know you receive a reward upon completion, making procrastination much less likely.

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7. Create Sub-Tasks

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Starting a massive project is a lot like staring at the peak of a mountain from sea level. It may be too daunting and can scare you out of even starting the work. To prevent this overwhelming feeling, break large projects into small, manageable tasks. Sure, this procrastination hack makes your to-do list look much longer, but these bite-sized assignments are easier to complete and quickly add up to big progress.

8. Make an Actual To-Do List

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Stop keeping your 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 into smaller chores. Creating an actionable list that you keep somewhere convenient allows you to see what needs to be done to complete your projects. Once 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

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Procrastination is a crutch when we are doing something or having to be somewhere that we don’t particularly enjoy. Make some changes if your workspace, garage, or other project area does not feel inviting. Keep a stash of your favorite snacks there, play an entertaining podcast, hang up some decor you love, or do whatever creates a gravitational pull to the area. Adding enjoyable features to your workspace helps draw you in, making it easier to make progress on your to-do list.

10. Count Project Work as Fitness

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Home improvement projects may require a lot of effort, between lifting and carrying heavy items, going up and down ladders, or running around to locate everything you need. Completing some of these projects takes a lot of strength and physical fitness.

Instead of thinking of these projects as chores or to-do list items, this procrastination hack reframes the activity. For example, you’re not changing tires; you’re working toward your fitness goals by strength training (it takes muscle to lift those tires off the ground). Putting a different spin on your to-do list may help give you some incentive to complete your tasks.

11. Consider Certain Projects a Type of Self-Care

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There’s usually a reason you need to do each home improvement project on your list. They will often impact your life for the better. For example, you’re not simply putting in new floors; you’re making a beautiful space for yoga or meditation.

It’s not just about improving your space either. Certain chores also can 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

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Sometimes, the best way to get something done is to call in a professional. Rather than try to convince yourself that you can gain the skill set for a particular home improvement chore, acknowledge that specific tasks might be out of your depth—and that’s just fine.

Hire someone who can get the task completed. Tasks covered by professional trades, such as plumbing and electrical work, shouldn’t be done by an average DIYer. Hiring out some of the jobs around the home ensures they are not only done but completed safely and correctly.

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