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Decrease Procrastination with A Reminder Planner

Decrease Procrastination with A Reminder Planner

We love being distracted, but we don’t love the results – the undone tasks. However, there’s no need to avoid procrastination and it’s almost undoable. Our brains need balance and relaxation to become more productive.

Procrastination and distractions are friends (or devils) that we probably all live with. Procrastination is always there to decoy us away from our tasks and we can’t run away. This leads us towards anxiety.

It’s nothing wrong with procrastination. Quite the opposite; we need it to stay balanced. Our brains need to rest, just like any other body part. So, don’t be angry at yourself when you postpone things. I recently realized how often I used to blame myself saying: I’m lazy and unproductive. It was true; I was avoiding tasks that were too difficult, unknown, frightening, time consuming or I simply didn’t like them.

Finally, what I did was change my thought process and my habits in the following ways:

  1. I accepted time for procrastinating and its opposite: anti-procrastinating.
  2. Secondly, I did a minimal change on my focusing approach. I started to focus on small steps and not on the whole task (goal or challenge) at once.
  3. By focusing on small steps I warm up my brains and ignite the momentum.

When I feel the momentum, I only need to be well organized. That’s probably the easiest part. At least when you know what fits you most.

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So when I’m setting goals, the huge ones, I instantly break them to small ‘minute’ tasks. That’s also why I used to have hundreds of stickers all around my place in the past.

All of the above mentioned can only work if I’m well organized. I don’t care if I procrastinate sometimes. I’m quite aware that my brains need relaxation for a short time.

How do I organize in order to limit procrastination and manage to move all my important tasks?

Before we start, I just want to remind you (and me) to keep things simple. Don’t allow yourself to think about a seemingly never-ending project you need to start working on, but instead on a pen or table you will use. Focus on searching car’s keys instead of the two hour drive that is ahead of you. And then on radio station you are going to listen while driving, and so on. Enjoy life in a simplified series steps.

1. I need to find out what motivates me

  • I may connect with a friend and ask for help. Asking for help doesn’t mean I’m a loser. It means I`m getting closer to solution.
  • I might talk about this problem (it could be fear) with other authors who have encountered similar problems in the past.
  • I can set a list of reminders that help me focusing on big tasks. The awareness of what’s going on is many times more important than solution itself. That’s why I need to remind myself to be aware and start focusing on priorities. That leads me to outsourced motivation.

2. Get leverage – establish “why’s” to avoid going back to the past

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Right at the beginning of setting goals or daydreaming huge ideas I need to declare myself why I want to do this.

  • Is this my passion?
  • Will this help me solving my problems?
  • Will I be able to work nights and long Mondays even If I think this project is a piece of cake?

If I don’t have something to focus on, it will be easier to start paying attention on new social media feeds or phone calls or any kind of unimportant stuff going on in my surroundings.

When I think of leverage I visualize the moment of accomplished task. It’s a moment of joy. But the problem is I need to remind myself over and over. Your reminders serve the purpose of propelling my actions forward and reaching the moment of being rewarded.

3. Setting goals and deadlines

I know this sounds a little stressful. I don`t like setting goals. I rather do what excites me and when it excites me. But sometimes, and for some bigger challenges, setting goals is highly recommended and essential. Especially when the project is extensive and we can easily get out of hand. Deadlines are important because they put my projects in motion.

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4. Reward yourself, take a break, and celebrate minor milestones

I love to imagine or visualize the accomplished mission, e.g. my fresh novel on a shelf or reaching 10,000 fans on social media. But that sounds more like a motivation than a reward.

The idea is to reward myself with small indulgencies for hitting those milestones. For instance: a new sofa that helps me to write more comfortably or a fancy pen (for those moments when I don’t feel like typing but writing on paper). The reward could also be a simple celebration with close friends or coworkers the way we all prefer. Just remember to not get so caught up in rewards that you can’t get anything done.

5. Have a partner

Working with someone else makes most tasks easier. That doesn’t mean I can’t create a business on my own. A partner could be a virtual assistant or an accountability partner. Someone I can share my obstacles, challenges and hindrances with. In the past I had difficulties with partnering. What I did was nothing new. I continued on the project on my own until I could partner with others.

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But how?

I started to write down tasks, thoughts, smart and stupid endless ideas etc. I posted it all over my place: on the table, on the closet, on the fridge, screen, practically everywhere. My bag was always full of small papers. That’s how I started. And most of the time it worked.

Then one day I needed to get organized as I found it difficult to follow and even more difficult to setup linked ideas.

I started using a notebook and filled it with hundreds of incentives that have helped me to move on with my projects. 

Bonus: Share big task with others or set a public commitment

If I share my ideas, my excuse and what’s preventing me to achieve goals I find myself in position where it’s more difficult to avoid.

  • I can cooperate with accountability partners – those who share similar difficulties with me in order to motivate each other.
  • I can share ideas with close friend who I trust and don’t lose the fear of stolen ideas.
  • I can post reminders all over my home and write goals and deadlines in my notebook and outlook.
  • I can work on my project in public place (e.g. writing book in library or park).

Featured photo credit: female hands with pen writing on notebook via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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