How can you beat procrastination and defeat the thief of time?
I always want to do all of the things – and then end up doing none of them.
So, let’s fight procrastination together!
Remove distractions/avoid interruptions – Turn off social media, no really, I mean it! Turn it off, do it now, or at least after you’ve finished my post… There are apps that can do this for you, or you can unplug the internet, or you can use willpower – what’s that, I hear you ask? You know that personal strength inside of you…yep, it does exist – or if you have a better idea or strategy let me know – I really need to know! But, yes, turn off the TV, send the kids out to play, or at least choose a time when you have peace and quiet.
Discover what makes you waste time – um, Facebook – and take steps to reduce the time you waste.
Treats – have a reward ready for when you’ve finished your task. This only works if you have that proverbial self-control or if you lock it away first. If I have chocolate beside me, I eat it – while I’m procrastinating. Maybe don’t choose chocolate as your reward.
Find your best time – find out the best time of day for being productive. I tend to finally knuckle down about an hour or two before I have to go and do the school run, then I’m back to square one and get interrupted while I’m on a roll. However, I know if I get started earlier, I can achieve so much more. Some of you will be morning people, some, like me, night owls. The worst thing for a night owl is having to get up early which curtails the opportunity to work late at night, so I’ve had to alter my habits and learn how to be productive much, much earlier! Better to cultivate an achievable productive time than languish and wait for time that will never come.
To Do Lists – argh, the dreaded To Do List. I’m a list lover; I have them everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Scraps of paper abound with bullet points and scribbles. You can write your list on paper or use an app; not only is my house strewn with scraps of paper, but my One Note app is brimming with lists too! For some people they truly work. You can list and prioritise and those that love lists also relish that moment when you can score through an item and tick it off! Some of us even write lists including things we know we’ve already completed – yes, you know you do – just so we can immediately cross things off. We get a buzz from it. Just make sure you actually do something on the list that hasn’t been finished too.
Prioritise – yep, mentioned above. Get your priorities right. There are often important things that need doing first. If it’s time sensitive it makes sense to get it out of the way. If you have so much to do you’re feeling stressed then choose a small quick thing to do first. Generally if you do something that only takes 15 minutes or less, you’ll not only feel good and be able to cross something off fast, you’ll have reduced the pressure you’re putting yourself under and achieved something. Then move onto something more complicated or time consuming. You can even break your larger projects down into smaller chunks.
I’m world building, plotting and planning my next series of books, and rather than just list: write book, I’ve narrowed it into smaller tasks: research, history, characters, names, character bios, maps, etc, which helps me have perspective and goals I can manage.
Set Goals – see my post: Making Dreams Happen and Reaching Your Goals. Set achievable goals and write them down. Will Self said on writing: “Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.” Write things down. That’s important.
Quoted from my article linked above: Reaching our goals is the result of a choice and a decision to recognise and to work towards making something happen in our lives.
The stages of achieving are thus:
- Recognise your dream, the thing you desire.
- Write it down, it’s been proven that putting something on paper makes it more concrete and more likely that you will do something about it.
- Make a plan. Save for that holiday, outline that novel, change your diet…
- Decide to do it and don’t give up until you reach that star.
Set goals and make plans – without plans it’s difficult to motivate yourself. Your goals should have time factors, rewards and motivation.
Don’t guilt yourself – sometimes you’ll while away an entire day watching cats fall over themselves on YouTube, or you’ll scroll Twitter’s never-ending feed clicking here and there, or you’ll get caught up in a conversation on Facebook or Twitter. That conversation might have been important, you might have found an article you need for research, or you might have learned something new. Down time is just as important as getting things done.
If you didn’t accomplish anything start again tomorrow, analyse where you went wrong and take steps to fix it. Get that self-discipline working! If you’ve lost the morning, don’t give up, start again after lunch.
Lastly, just a few tips to remember – work in a warm room, it’s more conducive to productivity. If you’re overwhelmed with a large list, do some quick things first. If you’re getting bogged down, blocked or foggy, take a walk and get out into the fresh air. Fresh air will clear your mind, aid your creative juices and perhaps inspire you. Eat well and stay hydrated, drink water it can prevent headaches and keep your mind more active.
Create habits – good ones – it’s said that it takes 21 days to make a habit, maybe a month. So work on being productive and lessening your procrastination. And remember tomorrow is always a new day!
What are your tips for beating procrastination?
How do you motivate yourself?
Let’s all try and be better today than we were yesterday!