I’ll do it tomorrow: how to break your habit of procrastination
From the time this blog post was thought of, until the moment it was published, three bins were emptied, a dishwasher was loaded, a packet of Pizza Shapes was consumed, and some long overdue maintenance was performed on a pair of tweezer-shy eyebrows.
Yep. There was some serious procrastination going on!
Procrastination is something we’re all guilty of, and it’s not always entirely wasted time, but more often than not, it’s misdirected – away from the toughest, ugliest, most boring (but necessary) tasks lingering at the top of your to do list. If your time management has been on the rocks, it’s time to divorce procrastination once and for all with these tips for staying focused and getting the job done.
Review your friendship group
We’re not going to fuel your procrastination by showing you The Law of Averages, but motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Think about that for a second… Now think about how inspired and energised you feel when you spend time with someone you know who’s a real go-getter; an entrepreneur with a hungry mind who won’t take no for an answer and refuses to settle for less than their best. Surround yourself with these positive, proactive people and filter out those who drain your energy – then see just how dynamic your to do list can be.
Make yourself accountable
Telling people what you’re going to achieve by when makes you accountable for getting stuff done. Think about how it would feel if you spent six months telling everyone in the office you were going to run a marathon (and all the support, encouragement and enthusiasm colleagues invested in your goal), and then imagine turning around the day before and saying you can’t be bothered. Neither you nor your accountability team (be it colleagues, family or friends) want to experience the disappointment of you not seeing your tasks and goals through to completion, whether it’s registering for a wedding expo, or revamping your website. Tell people, keep your eyes on the prize, and follow through!
Avoid digital distractions
Seriously, how did the world procrastinate before social media? We know we post some dangerously distracting stuff on the Easy Weddings Facebook and Twitter, but scroll at your own peril! It’s hard to steer clear of digital diversions, and that’s why some very clever developers have created apps to help you do just that. Freedom lets you control which websites you are able to visit by blocking your personal distraction-candy, such as Facebook, Tumblr and other online vices.
Want to know exactly how much time you’re spending doing “research” on Pinterest? Installing Rescue Time reveals the confronting facts about your online usage, so you know exactly what’s zapping your time. Maybe it’s not social media at all; maybe dedicating an hour every Friday to processing invoices will save you two hours a week logging in and out of online banking three times a day.
Change things up
Evidence reveals that ambient noise between 50 and 70 decibels (the background noise in your average coffee shop) is responsible for subtly disturbing mental processes, which is good news for creative folk who need to invest in some abstract thinking. Anywhere around 80 decibels though and you’re pushing your luck, with dishwasher noises making it hard for people to think at all. Find an environment that works for you and don’t be afraid to change things up occasionally. A fresh desk might be all you need for a new perspective on your to do list.
Break it down
Instead of writing “Tax return” on your to do list, break tasks down into more manageable, bite-sized pieces that can be gradually completed, saving you from facing the same overwhelming task of a “Tax return” in a month’s time. Even simple jobs like gathering receipts, creating a ledger or totalling annual income can be progressively ticked off, giving you a sense of completion to power on, chipping away slowly but surely at the overall job. Time management tools like Asana are great for creating and assigning tasks to team members, monitoring progress and creating accountability for yourself and/or your staff.
If after implementing these procrastination-fighting tactics you find that you’d still rather clean the fridge than file your tax return, consider the financial loss incurred by procrastination, revealed in one study to be around $9,000USD per worker, per year. So what’ll it be – an extra hour each day stalking school friends on social media, or an end of year holiday kiddy to reward yourself for all the hard work you’ve put into kicking goals on your to do list?
Overcoming procrastination… Don’t put it off any longer!