Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

More by this author

25 Eckhart Tolle Quotes to Inspire You to Live the Present Moment Decrease Procrastination with A Reminder Planner

Trending in Productivity

1 How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work 2 Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress 3 How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money 4 7 Steps For Making a New Year’s Resolution and Keeping It 5 How to Concentrate and Train Your Brain to Focus Better

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

Advertising

So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

Advertising

    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

    Advertising

    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

    Advertising

    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next