In my natural state, I am a master procrastinator. I have a mental notebook of things I want/need to do, ideas that I have, questions I need answers to, things I want to learn. I am not afraid to admit that I get side-tracked easily.
This is not a good way to be when you preach what I do!
So what did I do? I made myself a promise. I can procrastinate as much as I like. But it needs to be when I am in bed. This allows me the freedom to dream big, problem solve, and make all the excuses in the world (as procrastinators do). It also results in some amazing unintentional brainstorming sessions.
BUT I still have the procrastination drug to beat during every other hour of the day.
So how do I do it? It requires the same commitment, effort, and planning as losing weight, studying, or going to the gym (regularly!).
Here are my tips on how to get through each day:
Keep yourself accountable
I use a Chrome extension called Momentum. Each time I open Chrome or a new tab, my main focus for the day is smack bang right in front of me. As the day goes by, I can tick these off and create a new focus. What I also love about Momentum is that it integrates with other tools that I use so that I constantly have a To Do list in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. ClickUp is an amazing tool for keeping track of everything!
If the cravings are REALLY bad, I’ll stick a post-it note to the edge of my computer screen with some kind of motivational quote on it. One that works for me is ‘She believed she could, so she did!’
If keeping yourself accountable doesn’t work, make yourself accountable to someone else.
Tell people what you plan to do and what you want to achieve. Create your own reward system and let someone else be the judge of whether you have achieved your target or not! What works for one person won’t for another so you need to take the time to work out what will work for you. A trip to a day spa with a friend is a great motivator for me!
Something else that works well for me is having a business coach. Each week we set things for me to achieve during the week. There is no reward for achieving the tasks (except maybe a ‘great work Pip’ comment), but if I don’t meet deadlines then there is a punishment! This may be as simple as my shout for coffee or lunch or at one stage it was the promise of speaking in front of a large group of people that kept me meeting deadlines for weeks!
Block distracting websites
Before you start hyperventilating I’m not talking about permanently! There are tools such as StayFocused (also a Chrome extension) that restricts the amount of time you can spend on websites that you nominate. Once your allotted time has been used up, the sites you have blocked will be inaccessible for the rest of the day.
Turn your phone off and put it out of sight. Even having it on vibrate or silent on your desk will set off those little heart palpitations we know we all get when our phone goes off – whether for excitement or stress these are incredibly distracting and any focus that you do have is immediately put to the side.
Break it up
Break up large tasks into smaller chunks. This will provide the satisfaction of seeing things ticked off the list and will help you feel like the task is more manageable and that you are making progress.
I’m currently trying to create an online course. Instead of having ‘create online course’ on my to do list, I have it broken down into chunks which look something like below:
- Create Online Course
- Brainstorm content ideas
- Write list of what I know
- Write list of questions I get asked all the time
- Map knowledge and questions into 6 topics (which will eventually become the modules within my course)
- Create module One
- Lesson promise
- Teach the answers to questions
- Cover objections
- Outline consequences
- Action steps and homework
- Brainstorm content ideas
And so on!
Do you even know why you procrastinate in the first place? Once you understand why you’re procrastinating it becomes easier for you to form a plan to beat it.
I will admit though that in a problem-solving situation I actually find procrastination more productive. Just allowing my brain five minutes to focus on something else, allows me to relax and I find that more often than not when I return to the problem, the answer suddenly seems so clear (virtual high five!).
When you work out, half the battle is just showing up to the gym. Once you are there it’s easy. It’s the same with tasks you don’t want to do. Just get started with a promise to yourself to at least work on it for sixty seconds. More often than not time will pass by and you will want to continue with your momentum.
At the end of the day, procrastination CAN be beaten!
It takes self-awareness, effort and planning on your part but implementing even a few of the points above can make you much more of a productive individual.
There is a great article in The Washington Post titled ‘the real reasons you procrastinate and how to stop.’ if you have the time I highly suggest reading it! (Tim Urbans panic monster had me giggling as well as nodding my head in agreement!)