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Busy All The Time? It May Mean You Postpone Being Productive

Busy All The Time? It May Mean You Postpone Being Productive

True procrastinators— those who habitually engage in prolonged and ongoing bouts of procrastination— have perfected the art of putting things off until later. Procrastinators actively look for distractions and the most common and effective way to procrastinate is through “busyness.” Procrastinators dilly-dally in other— less productive— endeavors and trick themselves and others into believing that they are simply too busy to tackle a task.

Overcoming procrastination

Procrastination is a learned behavior that has little to do with time-management or planning. It’s about self-discipline and impulse control. And while learning to regulate behavior can be difficult, there are some things you can do to make it a bit easier.

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First, recognize when you are procrastinating. For most habitual procrastinators, it is a habit. You slip into these behaviors without even recognizing what you are doing. You begin your day with the best intentions, but before you know it, you’ve slipped into “busyness” and the day is spent. Recognize and acknowledge when you find yourself off task, or when you are avoiding doing your real work.

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Second, establish habits that target and address your procrastination. Building a habit is simply harnessing an impulse. For new habits to stick, you must create a clear trigger, make the behavior easy to do, and ensure it happens regularly. Keep it simple. If the behavior requires a high degree of intentionality, effort, or deliberation, it is not a habit. Benjamin Gardner[1], psychologist and professor at King’s College in London explains it this way:

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“Habit works by generating an impulse to do a behavior with little or no conscious thought. Habits are simply how the brain learns to do things without deliberation.”

Time’s up! Stop procrastinating and get ‘er done.

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Reference

[1] Journal of Health and Psychology Review: Defining and measuring the habit impulse: Response to commentaries

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Denise Hill

Denise shares about psychology and communication tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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