pro-cras-ti-na-tion |prəˌkrastəˈnāSHən, prō-|
The avoidance of doing a task which needs to be accomplished. It is the practice of doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, or carrying out less urgent tasks instead of more urgent ones, thus putting off impending tasks to a later time.
Sound familiar? Procrastination is something a lot of us have to fight on a daily basis, but don’t fret, it’s not chronic. There are some easy, simple things you can do to combat the urge to procrastinate and become a more efficient person.
Make a schedule. Many successful people have daily routines because it provides structure and helps to build good habits. It’s important to block out time to work on projects, time for fun and time to relax. Start by getting up a few minutes earlier so you have time to clear your mind and mentally prepare yourself for the day. Pro-Tip: The Puzzle Alarm Clock app is a great way to challenge your self and clear your head of the morning fog.
Make your intentions public. Tell someone your plan. Tell your co-workers what you’re working on and when you plan to have it done. Better yet, tell someone your plan and put it in writing — email your manager a quick update or Slack your coworkers in a group chat. This will give you some pressure to actually do what you say you’re going to do, because people are expecting it from you now.
Make a list, but do it right. Don’t just make a random list of things you need to do, be smart about it. Categorize tasks in a way that works best for you. One idea is to break your list down by priority levels: What needs to be done by the end of the day, by the end of the week and the end of the month. You can use Eisenhower’s Principle to help you prioritize efficiently. Keep your list near by at all times and if something new comes up, just add it to the list. Pro-Tip: Finish and Any.Do are great apps to help create a to-do list right on your phone.
Do the hardest tasks first. No, really. Do it. I know it’s the oldest tip in the book, but with good reason. Getting the most difficult and time consuming tasks done will be such a weight off your shoulders and it will fuel your motivation to do the smaller things.
Get off social media. Seriously, it’s one of the biggest time wasters. I know, five minutes here, 10 minutes there–doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but it can add up quickly. A recent study said that the average person spends 1.72 hours on social media per day. How many things could you cross off your to-do list with almost two extra hours? Pro-Tip: If you lack self control, have a friend change your passwords and give them to you only after you finish what you need to do.
Bargain with yourself. Reward yourself for accomplishments. Finished everything you set out to do today? Treat yourself to a drink at happy hour. Light at the end of the tunnel is a good way to motivate yourself. It is essential to feel like you’re moving towards a goal and not digging your way out of an endless black hole.
Give yourself consequences. Of course, it goes both ways. If you didn’t have a productive day, didn’t finish the work that needed to be done–you need to give yourself a consequence. If you didn’t get through this week’s to-do list, punish yourself by staying home on Saturday night to finish it. Consequences can be just as effective at killing procrastination as rewards.
Start your day over at 2pm. After lunch is a good time to reboot, reassess and start over. When you get back from lunch, take a good look at your to-do list, a lot had probably changed since this morning. Take a few minutes to re-prioritize the list, cross things off and add things. Then take a deep breath, remind yourself of your goals and get ready to get back to working towards them again.