I've found productivity to be the other face of procrastination, they go hand in hand and usually never leave the other alone.

I created this article to help you hack your brain and be more productive in your life, work, or whatever it is you want to be more productive at.

I know what I'm talking about, I'm a big time procrastinator myself.

And I've spent a great deal of time looking for an answer.

I've wasted so much time, I could be way more successful today (probably 10x) if I had learned what I now know, one year ago.

If you want to learn how to increase your productivity and stop procrastinating.

Keep reading...

I'll share everything I've learned in this post.


How to Improve Your Productivity and Stop Procrastinating

I know that you are eager to stop procrastinating, however, in order to be able to stop, you need to understand why it happens in the first place.

Let me explain.

There are two types of procrastination:

The first one is when we have a deadline and we have to deliver something at a specific time.

However, when we have deadlines, the effects of procrastination are contained and only work in the short term.

The second one is where there is no deadline, the effects of procrastination are not contained and tend to extend forward forever.

This is a huge problem because if you are like me and are an entrepreneur.

Procrastination is a never ending struggle.

And is this kind of procrastination that's much less visible and much less talked about than the more fun short deadline one.

We suffer quietly and privately and is the source of a huge amount of long-term unhappiness and regret.

Lucky for you, I've suffered from both types and have compiled the best ways to tackle them both.

And I share them in this article.

Keep reading.

What is Procrastination?

According to Andrew Dobson from  Mind Fit Hypnosis:

Procrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time.

In order for a behavior to be classified as procrastination: it must be counterproductive, needless, and delaying.

Similarly, it is “to voluntarily delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse-off for the delay.

Andrew Dobson

AsapSCIENCE created a great video where they quickly explain the science behind productivity.

It's 3 minutes and 15 seconds long. I recommend you watch it 🙂

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Getting Inside The Mind of a Procrastinator

Tim Urban from Wait but Why gave a TED Talk where he explains the insides of a master procrastinator.

He shares the main differences between procrastinators and non-procrastinators.

The talk is 14 minutes long. It's very funny, insightful and inspiring.

I recommend you watch it :)​

If you watched the TED Talk, you can jump to the "Morning Habits to Change Your Life" part of the article.

On the TED Talk, Tim mentions that there is a difference between procrastinators and non-procrastinators.

A non-procrastinator has a mindset of a "rational decision maker".

This means that when you are a non-procrastinator and want to get things done, you get to work.

How to increase your productivity by John's IMSecrets

On the other hand, procrastinators have a different mindset and that involves the "instant gratification monkey".

How to increase your productivity by John's IMSecrets

All of this means that when we (procrastinators) want to get things done, our rational decision maker comes into play taking charge of the rational thinking and trying to get to work.

But the monkey doesn't like that and in that moment, the "instant gratification monkey" gets in the way, preventing us from working on productive stuff.

And focusing on the things that will give us an instant gratification feeling instead.

How to increase your productivity by John's IMSecrets

For example: Watching YouTube videos of funny cats (I don't do that but, I know they are very popular in the US).

Or, going to the fridge and see if there is something to eat that we like and brings us pleasure (like chocolate).

How to increase your productivity by John's IMSecrets

What we need to understand is that the monkey only cares about two things.

Easy & Fun

I don't know about you but, I LOVE easy and fun stuff.

And that has made me waste a ton of time that I could have spent in a productive way.

How to increase your productivity by John's IMSecrets

Now, don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean that the rational decision maker will not decide to do fun stuff too.

But, it will only decide to do that whenever it makes sense.

How to increase your productivity by John's IMSecrets

For example: Once a week I take a full day to rest and do nothing but whatever makes me happy.

On this set of activities, you can find things like watching movies, going out to dinner, spending time with friends, with my family, playing video games, etc., etc.

This helps me prevent burnout and keep myself fresh.

Which just makes sense if I want to stay productive.

See what I did there ;D

How to increase your productivity by John's IMSecrets

But, how do we stay productive when all we do is focus on the easy and fun stuff?

Well, lucky for us, there is a third mindset.

And that's the "Panic Monster".

How to increase your productivity by John's IMSecrets

The "Panic Monster" is dormant most of the time and this is the only thing the monkey is afraid of.

He is the one that gets us to work, we want it or not.

It's that fear that fills us to take action because there is (usually) a huge consequence if we don't.

I don't know about you but, I consider the panic monster my guardian angel.

Whenever I feel like letting the monkey take the wheel I just wake the panic monster and get to work.

But, how do I do that?

Well, lucky for you, there are a few hacks you can try in order to wake the panic monster at will.

And I will share them with you later on this article.

Do you want to be more productive? Befriend the Panic Monster 😀

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Morning Habits To Change Your Life

Anna Guerrero from Canva shared awesome tips that I've found incredibly useful.

Here's a recap of what I learned:

Make Time to Think

Making time in the morning to think is one of the most important habits anyone can develop for the creative process.

Some studies have shown that taking the time to meditate helps people be more creative and increases our overall mental clarity.

It's important to mention that not all meditation techniques will help you develop creativity.

Some will only help with relaxation.

However, the techniques that will help you increase creativity are the following:

  • Open-monitoring meditation
  • Focused attention meditation

The finality of this techniques is slightly different.

For example, in open-monitoring meditation, the person is receptive to all thoughts and sensations experienced without really focusing on any particular concept or object.

This is what Bruce Lee meant when he said the awesome quote "be water, my friend".

If you haven't watched his movies, here's a short video where he explains the empty your mind concept.

And in focused attention meditation, the person focuses on a particular thought or object.

Plan Ahead

Planning ahead will allow you to focus on the bigger tasks at hand and not have to worry about the smaller stuff that you need to accomplish in the near future.

For example, I plan 1 week in advance.

This allows me to have enough tasks scheduled and not have to worry about the week at hand but, at the same time not too far ahead that I won't be able to schedule new tasks without having to reschedule everything.

Here's an example of my calendar for this current week.

improve your productivity by John's IMSecrets

A quick tip I got from Brian Tracy, schedule related stuff one after the other, this will make it easier for you to complete since your mindset is focused on one specific thing.

Go back to my calendar and you'll see that I scheduled backlinking four times in a row, the reason being:

I'm promoting three different articles, hence, three different tasks but, they are related.

I'm promoting four different articles, hence, four different tasks but, they are related.

So, I put them one after the other.

Reduce Your Morning Decisions

Have you ever wondered why the most accomplished people (especially scientists) today always wear the same type of clothing?

And some go as far as having a schedule for their meals where they eat the same thing on a specific day?

Well, let me tell you something.

While reducing variation in your morning routine might be seen as dull or even uncreative, it's a matter of conserving as much cognitive stimulation as possible for activities in the rest of the day that actually deserve it.

For example:

Brainstorming, writing, or problem-solving.

President Barack Obama, for example, wears the same type of grey or blue suit every day because, as he mentioned before "I have too many other decisions to make."

Now, I'm not saying that you need to go as far as they go but, you might want to start figuring out your own morning rituals 😉

Which takes me to the next point.

Don't waste your precious mental energy in meaningless morning decisions.

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Create a Routine and Stick With It

It doesn't matter where in the world you live, do your best to keep the same morning routine.

Author Haruki Murakami said:

"The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind."

However, if you've ever made a new year's resolution you'll know that it's quite easy to create a routine or a goal for yourself.

The sticking with it is the tricky part.

We always make excuses to break habits like exercising in the morning for example.

But, breaking our habits just once is enough to destroy the creative habits we’ve worked hard to form.

Which is why, next time you feel like you want to skip your next morning exercise or writing a blog post or pretty much anything that you have to do, just go ahead and do it!

Don't let all your hard work go to waste.

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Don't Wake Up Too Early

Studies have shown that it is not solely in the amount of hours you sleep but in how you sleep and you wake up.

A large proportion of creative insights come when we're tired and still somewhat sleepy because sleepy people have a "more diffuse attentional focus," which leads them to "widen their search through their knowledge network".

"This widening," the researchers wrote, "leads to an increase in creative problem solving".

This may mean you need to go to bed a touch earlier or just set your alarm thirty minutes earlier than usual.

And while it might be a bit of a jarring change, it will be well worth it for the creative insights that are gained.

Nonetheless, be sure to get enough sleep (which can be in the form of naps) since naps and proper sleep not only improve alertness but they’re also correlated with increased activity in the right brain, which is closely associated with creativity.

Drink Coffee

Ok, you may or may not already know that caffeine makes us more alert, but perhaps more important than that, it also increases our brain's production of dopamine.

Dopamine or more specifically VTA dopamine gives us a feeling of reward, it makes us feel good and motivates us when we do something positive.

Making a habit of grabbing a morning latte in the morning adds structure to our morning and helps create the previously mentioned window of creativity.

However, it's important to mention that dopamine is addictive, which could be either good or bad depending on the case.

For example:

According to Dr. Nora Volkow the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the reason that dopamine-producing drugs are so addictive is that they have the ability to constantly fill a need for more dopamine.

"So a person may take a hit of cocaine, snort it, it increases dopamine, takes a second, it increases dopamine, third, fourth, fifth, sixth.

In this context, we can say that drinking coffee could make you an addict to caffeine.

But, as long as you don't drink more than two cups of coffee a day, you should be fine 🙂

If you drink more that two cups of coffee a day, some side effects might include insomnia, nervousness, and restlessness, stomach irritation, nausea and vomiting, increased heart rate and respiration, and other side effects.

Drink your cup of coffee in the morning and possibly afternoon but never at night!

As entrepreneurs, we need our good night sleep to wake up energized the next day ready for the hustle.

Now, I know that many people out there don't drink coffee!


Here's a short video with alternatives to coffee in case you are a non-coffee drinker 🙂

Remain Disconnected In The Morning

People don't have that much time to focus and stay creative, which is why wasting time on relatively thoughtless pursuits in the morning is a poor management of both your time and your creative juices.

You should avoid tasks like checking your email or writing out lists or memos as the first thing you do in the morning, instead, focus that precious time on more tough and creatively trying tasks that require the very best from you.

If however, emails or similar morning tasks are very time-sensitive, it’s probably worth it to get up a bit earlier and focus first on creative tasks and then, get to emails and such earlier than you would otherwise.

We’re all granted small windows of time at which we’re most creative, it’s not wise to waste it.

If you want to be more #productive, you need to avoid distractions

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Productivity Hacks

Like I mentioned before, I tend to procrastinate a lot when I lose my focus even if it's just for one second!

Which is why I've compiled a short list of productivity hacks that help me accomplish more, faster.

Keep reading...

Exercise First Thing in the Morning

Your health is extremely important, you may have heard this before.

"As long as you are healthy, you can do anything".

Well, that's pretty much true.

Let me explain:

As entrepreneurs, we usually work long hours and stay glued to our computers for the majority of that time.

This is an unhealthy lifestyle, so make sure to get some daily exercise in.

PROTip #1: Exercising in the morning will not only make you more likely to stick with it, it also promotes better quality sleep.

A shorter high-quality sleep trumps a longer sleep of lower quality, and a deep sleep will make you more productive the next day.

Pretty cool right?

PROTip #2: Exercising regularly will not only keep you healthy, it will also give you mental clarity.

Prioritize your morning exercise just like you would a business meeting or conference call (don’t skip it for any reason).

As long as you are healthy, you can do anything

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Tackle The Least Desirable Tasks First

Sometimes, you'll find yourself with tasks on your to-do list that are completely horrible to you.

For example, I don't particularly like to spend much time on social media but, I know that it's something I need to do if I want to provide more value.

This kind of activities have to get done, so get them out of the way first whenever possible.

If you put them off they will continue to be on your mind, dragging down your overall productivity.

Quit Social Media

Wait what?!

Ok, when I say quit social media, I don't mean QUIT social media, I mean stop focusing your attention on social media.

Our culture has such a fascination with what is going on in each other’s lives.

Taking time out of your day to check Twitter and Facebook does nothing but waste time and cut into your productivity.

Is seeing what everyone is having for lunch or building your business more important to you?

Now, there are times when you absolutely need to check your social media accounts and that's OK!

But, make sure to schedule that task in your calendar or to-do list and only access Facebook or Twitter when it's time to do so and on the period of time you've set.

Forget about checking the news feed! It's a massive waste of time!

Keep One Day Off Limits

I've found that keeping one day completely blocked off each week allows me to really get hooked on tasks.

I don't work on Saturdays and that always makes me think about the tasks I need to complete faster.

Your team would know that there will not be any distractions, allowing your business to clear tasks and get ahead of the game.

Also, Saturday is the day I relax and dedicate to spending time my family.

Determine the day you want to designate off-limits and make sure to never schedule company meetings or conference calls.

This is what I do and you don't really need to do exactly as I do but, this has helped me maintain a work-life balance.

So, it's worth checking out 😉

Accomplish More, Faster

I've found a couple of amazing tools that have been able to improve my overall productivity and better yet, it involves listening to music 😉

Here's how it works:

You listen to music and you increase your productivity.

It's actually a little bit more complicated than that but, that's how it works.

According to Will Henshall, musician, and technology inventor:

The ability to focus your attention on something while ignoring competing stimuli is called selective attention by psychologists, and we would never get anything done without it.

What this means is, whenever we focus on something visual hard enough, we tend to ignore what's around us.

This is also called inattentional deafness.

So, next time someone is calling your name and you are focused on your phone and don't hear what's around you.

Now, you know why it happens 🙂

Here's a short video by DNews explaining it in more detail.

Now that you know this, it's not so bad, right?

I mean, been able to completely focus on something is good, right?

All you have to do now is focus on the right things.

Here's how you accomplish it:

Listen to the right music, at the right place, at the right time.

Music has an amazing power to makes us feel good or better and make us more productive but, we tend to listen to the wrong music when we are working.

And this distracts us instead of helping us focus and be more productive.

Here's a TED Talk where Will Henshall explains the power of music in your productivity.

Believe me, it's an amazing talk and it's definitely a must watch. Besides, it's pretty funny 😉

Now that you know how it works, here are the tools that have helped me be more productive.

If you watched Will Henshall's TED Talk, you already know what Focus@Will is and how it works.

How to increase your productivity - Focus@Will

However, if you haven't, here's a summary:

Focus@Will is an app that helps you stop listening to the wrong type of music and use the type of music that will help you concentrate.

Regular music is created to engage you. It makes you feel good, moves you physically, emotionally and intellectually.

That’s why you love to listen to it, and that’s also why it distracts us when we are trying to focus and concentrate on work or studying.

Singing and foot tapping takes you right out of the focus zone 🙁

They have a library of music that has been remixed, re-edited and scientifically remastered specifically for focus enhancement.

It relaxes our fight or flight mechanism, engaging our brain’s limbic system, to increase our attention span and general concentration.

I know it sounds complicated (and it is) but, all you really need to know is that it helps you concentrate and really works! 😀

Want to improve ur productivity? Listen to the right music, at the right place, at the right time

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Here's how I use them combined:

First, I open the Focus@Will app on either my iPhone or iPad and select the type of music that fits me best (they show you how to select it on the tutorial).

Second, I utilize the Pomodoro technique in order to concentrate on the task at hand.

PRO Tip: Use a pair of headphones to avoid distractions and concentrate better.

Very simple, right?

Here's how the Pomodoro technique works:

You'll need the Pomodoro app, you can get it on the App Store or the Google Play Store.

Here are the links:

The purpose of the technique is to improve your working and studying habits.

Watch this 2:22 minutes long video explaining how it works.

Here's how I use the technique:

Since I work in chunks of 1 hour, I set up 2, 25-minute Pomodoro with a 5-minute short rest at the end of the first Pomodoro.

And a long break of 15 minutes at the end of the second one.

How to increase your productivity with the pomodore technique

In other words:

25-minute Pomodoro » 5-minute break » 25-minute Pomodoro » 15-minute long break

And then, I move on to the next task.

Very simple, right?

All you need to do is determine how long it will take you to finish any task you have at hand and adjust the Pomodoro technique to your needs.

I've seen people doing something like this:

5-minute Pomodoro » 2-minute break » 5-minute Pomodoro » 3-minute long break


10-minute Pomodoro » 3-minute break » 10-minute Pomodoro » 5-minute long break

It's really up to you 🙂

It's really important to do no work whatsoever while you take your break, this is all about creating habits, eventually, you won't need to take that many breaks.

But, for now, do it like that 🙂

There you have it, use the Pomodoro technique to create great habits of success.

And avoid distractions while listening to music.

Was this article helpful/useful? Would you kindly help me share it? 🙂

Now, if you don't mind, I'd love to ask you something.

  • Was this article helpful to you?
  • Have you ever used Focus@Will?
  • Have you ever used the Pomodoro technique?

Kindly let me know in the comment section below 🙂

About the Author

I've been working in the digital marketing industry since 2014. Some of the areas I excel at include content marketing, blogging, SEO, and creating and implementing marketing strategies. I help businesses build assets that continuously attract and nurture people, and turn them into customers/clients. Want me to help you? Send me an 📧.