Today is fight procrastination day. I’m winning at the moment but it’s a constant battle. I’m sharing my tips, what works for me. I’d love to hear yours too.
Yesterday I found myself in the kitchen cleaning the outside of my kettle. I’m not sure what task I was avoiding but it must have been something particularly horrid to make me notice the tiny splodges marking the outside of the stainless steel.
I did a proper job cleaning that kettle, it’s spotless now, a glowing beacon in the corner of my somewhat untidy kitchen.
If I’d put that task on a to-do list it’s likely it would have never been done. In fact, I’m not sure it needed to be done.
Most of you reading will have similar stories, we’re easily distracted when we have work to do, we’ll find almost any job to avoid it.
Today is ‘Fight Procrastination Day’ so I thought I’d share some of the solutions I have for beating it.
Watch below for my quick guide to fighting procrastination.
Is procrastination a bad thing?
Of course it is, I always think I’d be 10 times more successful if I could focus on the assignment at hand, if my mind didn’t wander, if I didn’t have a sudden urge to clean the house. Procrastination kills my productivity and means I burn the midnight oil in a bid to meet my deadlines.
But, and this is a big but, it can be good for you. Psychology Today reports that procrastination can make you more creative, force you to do things you had put on the long finger and eliminates pointless work from your to-do list. So maybe letting a little bit of procrastination in is a good thing. It’s when that procrastination takes over, when it causes you stress, when you feel the pain in the bottom of your stomach it becomes a problem.
Tools and Apps
The Internet is a wonderful thing but it’s also a procrastination magnet. Social networking sites eat our time without us noticing. When my procrastination gets particularly bad I find myself cycling between Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat on a continuous loop.
Breaking that cycle always gets me back on track.
I’ve written about this Chrome extension before. There are days that I would get nothing done if it wasn’t for this tool that blocks me from accessing social media sites for 25 minutes at a time. The work period is followed by a 5-minute break phrase. I find that two cycles of this are enough to break my procrastination.
It’s Fight Procrastination Day as I write this so I’ve decided to try a new tool, Rescue Time. Instead of blocking sites it monitors how long you spend on them giving you an accurate picture of your day. I’m terrified to find out how much time I waste on Facebook but I’m ready to learn.
Take a break
This may seem counterproductive but if you are sitting in front of the computer, achieving nothing it’s worth stepping away. Go for a walk, think about something completely different for 15 minutes then come back to your assignment. Yes, in a way this is procrastination too but moving your mind and body somewhere else can give you fresh eyes on your return.
I’m often stunned at how much work I can get done on a train or in a coffee shop. I’m not sure why but it’s easier to focus when I’m in a different environment.
I’m sitting outside in my garden writing this, another of my more productive spaces. I don’t understand the science behind why this works but it always does.
Put tasks into your calendar
I’ve been spectacularly bad at managing my calendar in the past but I’m getting better. Not only have I allocated times and days for specific recurring jobs like measurement and bookkeeping but I put the big, office based work in my calendar alongside my appointments. This forces me to make time for all the work that needs to be completed.
The power of a good plan
As regular readers will know I’ve been struggling to write a book this year. Finding time in a procrastination soaked day to write has been a challenge I have failed at. Until now.
Last week I sat down and made a proper plan, breaking the writing into sections, mapping out time in my schedule and a process to follow. It’s been all go since and I’m quietly confident I’ll make my next deadline.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have a plan before but it wasn’t detailed enough. I knew how many words I had to write each day but I hadn’t broken that down into topics. I’d rushed the planning stage and this was causing me to waste time getting started.
Breaking a big job into small segments and planning each of those keeps procrastination at bay
Eat the frog
I’m definitely not the first person who’s told you this but it’s always good to be reminded. When you are putting together your to-do list prioritise it. Look at the biggest project in the day and do that first. Once you’ve got it out of the way you’ll feel a sense of achievement and the rest of your tasks will seem less intimidating.
Systemise common activities
There are two things that I used to dawdle over:
1. Setting up Facebook ad campaigns
2. Creating PowerPoint presentations
I decided to tackle these by systemising them. I’ve set up a process for both that I follow to the letter. I have spreadsheets and checklists that need to be completed for both.
Following these processes means I’m less distracted and more productive when I’m working on these projects. It’s made me look at other parts of my business I can systemise too.
That’s just some of the secrets I’ve found for being more productive with my time and banishing procrastination. Do you have any tips that work for you? I’d love to hear them.