How to beat procrastination and get more done!
We've all been there... Sitting in front of the screen, facing a daunting task. And then... maybe just a quick email check or a quick scroll on Facebook? Or even a quick google search related to the task… And without realizing it, you went down the rabbit hole (again!) and your procrastination has stretched into hours. The day is now over and what was today's task is now tomorrow's problem. OUCH.
Procrastination is a normal part of life. It's human nature; we all do it. However, despite its prevalence and how normalized it’s become, it still creates negative repercussions on our lives and is one of the biggest contributors to stress.
Here are a few simple tricks to beat procrastination and get more done!
Get SMART with your goals
Don't just say you're going to "get more done" or that you want to "write more." Be specific and use the SMART goals method!
For example, a SMART goal would be: I will write at least 2 blog posts per week! This goal is smart because it’s:
Specific - I will be writing 2 blogs
Measurable - It's easy for me to tell if I've accomplished it
Achievable - I know how to write, and have the tools available
Realistic - I can easily do this in my spare time
Timely - I have a deadline to meet; 2 per week
Statistically speaking, people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. So write them down and feel free to review them regularly.
Plus, studies show that sharing a goal with someone increases the likelihood of achieving it! So tell your auntie or a friend about what you aim to do. They may even help keep you accountable while encouraging you.
Don’t forget to review your goals from time to time, as it gives you the opportunity to reflect upon what needs to be done next. This way, nothing slips through the cracks unnoticed!
Refine your to-do list
There are so many ways to start and sort a to-do list. Here’s what we recommend…
Start with a brain dump
Sometimes, we have so many things floating around in our brain that we need to just let it all out in the form of a ‘brain dump’. Just write all the things that you need to do off the top of your head. It doesn’t even need to make chronological sense and you may even include personal items like making a dentist appointment! That’s ok too.
Manage and prioritize your list
Once you’ve created your list of tasks, prioritize them in order of most important to the least. The importance could be based on the tasks that will be the most impactful at the moment, blockers that are delaying others from completing their own work, or it could be based on a set deadline or around your schedule.
Break down bigger projects
There is a difference between tasks and projects. If projects find their way onto your list, break them up into more manageable tasks that you can wrap up within a day or week (at most).
Reducing your work into bite-sized pieces helps reduce feelings of overwhelm and may prevent procrastination from taking hold in the first place!
Start with the harder stuff
“Eat that frog!” as Brian Tracy recommends. (Psst! You can download his free PDF here to help you beat procrastination.)
“The key to reaching high levels of performance and productivity is to develop the lifelong habit of tackling your major task first thing each morning." - Brian Tracy
What does he mean? Basically whenever possible, tackling the most significant task first thing in the morning is the most effective way to schedule your work. If you start with the big things, it allows you to use your most productive time on the most important tasks, giving you more leeway for the smaller or less important ones. As a bonus, you’ll end up feeling productive and motivated after completing your most important work first.
So whenever possible… eat that frog!
Most of us are guilty of trying to accomplish too much at once, which can bring on feelings of overwhelm, especially when working on multiple projects with competing deadlines.
In fact, researchers at Stanford University estimate that up to 50 percent of an adult's day can be spent juggling several tasks, with many switching from one activity to another every few minutes. Doesn’t that sound exhausting!?
The reality is that you can only do one thing at a time, so this idea that you can juggle multiple tasks at once effectively is FALSE.
Use the Pomodoro
One of the most effective ways to work on one thing at a time is by using the Pomodoro technique. Pomodoro is a productivity method that uses a timer to break down your time into 25-minute intervals separated by short breaks.
Simply set any timer for 25 minutes and once the timer dings, you take a five-minute break before starting another Pomodoro.
This technique has been proven effective at getting things done while maintaining better focus through resting and taking more frequent breaks.
Block your time
Another great way to organize your work and get more done is through time blocking.
Here’s how it works:
- Block out time on your calendar or in your app of choice
- Track how much you get done in that block of time
There are so many apps that specialize in this sort of thing, like Toggl and Rescue Time (which will also tell you how much time you're wasting). All apps have their strengths and weaknesses depending on what you’re looking for and what works best for you, so play around with them until you find the right fit.
Be realistic about how long things take
Try to gain a better understanding of how long things actually take for you to complete. When you have an idea of how much time something will require and your limitations for putting in that time, you can set more realistic deadlines.
Change up your space
In this new culture of working from home, it’s easy to get tired of seeing the same decor, day in and day out! Sometimes, a little change of scenery can help.
- Feeling lonely? Go get some work done at a busy coffee shop
- Missing the outdoors? Get some work done ‘al fresco’
- Uninspired? Ask to meet up with a colleague to bounce some ideas off of each other
Changing your environment can help reignite your motivation and put you back into a productive mindset.
Reward yourself (you deserve it!)
Allowing yourself time to relax after you’ve met your goals is essential. Watch that movie that just came out or spend time with your friends. Do something that lets your brain relax and replenish itself. It helps maintain motivation to stay productive. Fun activities tend to be more enjoyable and rewarding after a productive day too, so go have fun!
Long story short
Breaking the procrastination mindset may not happen overnight. But have you ever heard of anyone successful by always putting things off? Well, neither have we.
So, start by setting clear goals to get more done, better manage your to-do list, only do one thing at a time and work when you can focus! As a result, you will greatly improve your productivity and quality of life. Plus, you'll be so proud of yourself.
And never forget: Your time is precious and time spent procrastinating is lost forever! So go ahead and ‘eat that frog’!
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