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Published on August 19, 2020

How Procrastination Makes Time Management Ineffective

How Procrastination Makes Time Management Ineffective

Everybody procrastinates. Students, parents, employees, employers, and every other human can’t help but procrastinate. No matter what you do, it’s close to impossible to get rid of procrastination if you’re not good at time management.

Time management and procrastination are very closely related as one affects the other. Procrastination, in particular, puts all your time management efforts to waste. If you can understand the how and why aspects of this concept, you can fight against procrastination and begin to use your time efficiently.

Effects of Procrastination

Procrastination is what happens when time management strategies are not utilized well. If you’ve been trying to make the most out of your time, you need to get rid of procrastination. Here are 3 ways that delaying tasks without a reason messes up your entire schedule.

Wasting Time

This one’s a given. It’s easily understandable that if you keep putting off a task that you’re supposed to get done, you will be wasting a lot of time.

You probably have a schedule for the day. Let’s assume you work for 8 hours every day. Your schedule will include tasks that will require 8 hours of your time. However, somewhere in the middle of the day, you just didn’t want to do one particular task. You kept delaying it.

You end up wasting hours of your time that was meant to be utilized somewhere else. Unfortunately, there’s no way to bring back the time that has gone by. All you can do at the end of the day is to push all the pending tasks to the few remaining hours of the day, which inevitably creates a great deal of pressure and stress.

Stress Leads to Bad Performance

As stated in the previous point, procrastination leads to wasting a great deal of time. When you’re left with all the work and just a few hours to finish it all off, of course you’ll feel pressured and stressed.

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The issue here is that even if you get into a boost mode and somehow manage 8 hours worth of work in four hours, you won’t be able to perform well. What does that do? It ruins your reputation at work because what you produce is not your best effort.

Bad performance can lead to further stress. Sometimes, your employer may even ask you to re-do the whole task all over again because it wasn’t satisfactory the first time around. This will add more to your existing to-do list. You’ll have to handle more in the same amount of time.

You’ll end up in a cycle of stress and bad time management just because you were careless a few times.

Extends Your Working Hours

The responsibilities that you delayed are sometimes manageable in a short time-frame, even after procrastination, but more often than not, it’s impossible to cover them within the same working hours.

Let’s take the previous example once again. You procrastinated for four hours. Now you half the time to finish off what you were supposed to do in eight hours. There’s a pretty big chance you’re unable to manage it, so your employer will tell you to stay back and finish the tasks for the day. You spend four extra hours in the office. The personal responsibilities you had to tackle in those four hours have to be rescheduled. You get home late, go to sleep later than usual, have a hard time waking up on time, and end up getting to work late.

Basically, it’s a cycle. Procrastinating once doesn’t have a one-time effect. It keeps getting carried on and makes your life harder. Time management is impossible if you keep procrastinating.

How to Stop Procrastinating and Manage Time Effectively

So, it’s clear by now that time management and procrastination are closely linked and that time management can help you avoid creating new difficulties with procrastination.

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These two interdependent concepts require a good deal of work to be useful. Here are some tips on how you can manage time in a way that reduces the chances of procrastination.

1. Have an Effective Schedule

Everyone has a schedule that they follow. Some people have a rough idea of their responsibilities in their heads while others have it jotted down somewhere. If you want to improve your time management and stop procrastinating, you need to start making effective to-do lists.

If you’re a procrastinator, you need a very detailed schedule. Look at it this way: when you have a plan for every minute, you won’t have enough time to think about delaying anything. Every single activity will be calculated and timed.

A great thing you can do while making a detailed schedule like this is to break down your tasks. Instead of allotting one hour to a job, allot 10 minutes to different segments of it. Your mind will also find it easier to tackle small chunks in 10-minute intervals than to go ahead with a big task that will need 60 minutes.

2. Take Enough Breaks

Not allowing breaks to save time is the biggest waste of time. Working non-stop is a huge trigger for procrastination. Give your mind the sense of relief that you’ll have some time off after you finish a few tasks.

If you don’t have short breaks scheduled throughout the day, your brain will know that it has to work continuously. Unconsciously, you’ll want to squeeze some free time in between tasks. This is where you’re likely to start procrastinating.

On the other hand, if you allow yourself 5 minutes off after every 25 minutes, it will keep you motivated to work hard through the 25 minutes to get a break after that. It keeps you from procrastinating and also boosts your motivation.

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3. Use the Pomodoro Technique

When you’re struggling to get a hold on time management and procrastination, it won’t be easy to manage it all alone. You should use supporting apps that will help you reach your goals more easily.

The Pomodoro Technique is all about time management and maintaining focus. It is a concept in which a person forces their attention on the task at hand for 25 minutes straight. You can then treat yourself to a 5-minute break or continue working for another 25 minutes. After 2 hours, you get a longer break[1].

Numerous applications help you implement the Pomodoro Technique. Use them to monitor and divide your time effectively.

4. Prioritize

You know that you’re likely to procrastinate at some point in the day, but you also know that you’re the most motivated after the lunch break.

Schedule your most important work at the time when you know you’re most likely to be productive. Even if you keep pushing yourself the rest of the day, at least you’ll have the relief of fulfilling the urgent responsibilities on time.

Prioritization may not solve procrastination, but it can help you manage time in a way that, even if you slack a bit, it won’t harm you.

5. Monitor Your Behavior

The best way to stop yourself from procrastinating is to keep an eye on yourself. Track your behavior. Write down where you’re spending all of your time. How much of it was spent on work, and how much did you spend distracted by the bee on your window?

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If you’re using an app for time management, you can monitor your activities to some extent. For more efficiency, make a conscious effort to remember where you’ve spent every single minute of the day.

The next step is to eradicate the causes of procrastination and minimize the distractions. If the bee on the window keeps you occupied for a good five minutes, shift your office space. Put your chair in a different spot so that you cannot look out the window. Turn off your phone so you don’t waste time scrolling on social media.

As for the material distractions, you can easily find a way to get rid of them. For mental distractions, you may want to add in a 10-minute meditation session before starting the day. It will help you practice mindfulness throughout the day.

6. Learn to Say No

Start by figuring out what makes you want to procrastinate. Usually, people procrastinate on tasks that they find boring, too hard, ambiguous, or meaningless[2].

If you doubt you’ll have fun doing a job, or you know you won’t be able to perform well, simply refuse to do it.

However, there are some cases in which you just cannot say no, when you are obliged to fulfill the responsibility regardless of whether or not you’re interested. In those cases, put the other tips to use so that you can get it done without compromising your work duties.

The Bottom Line

Clearly, procrastination is entirely dependent on the absence or presence of good time management strategies. Time management and procrastination are intertwined, but where you find one, you likely won’t find the other.

The above tips will help you find a way out of delaying your work and wasting precious time. Start practically using this advice so that you too can make the most of your life!

More Time Management Tips

Featured photo credit: Charlz Gutiérrez De Piñeres via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on September 24, 2020

How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule to Succeed in Life

How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule to Succeed in Life

The world of productivity has several hacks or tricks to help you manage your time: to-do lists, the Pomodoro Technique, Parkinson’s Law… All of these strategies are great strategies in their own way, but one strategy stands above all the others: the 80 20 rule.

This particular strategy has been used the most and is regarded as the most helpful in developing time management and other concepts in life.

But what’s so special about this rule? How does it give you success and how do you use it? Let’s explore the specifics.

What Is the 80 20 Rule?

Many people regard this rule as the 80 20 rule, but it has a proper name: the Pareto Principle[1]. The principle was named after its founder,  the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, in 1895. Pareto noticed that people in society were divided into two categories:

  • The “vital few,” which consisted of the top 20 percent with respect to money and influence.
  • The “trivial many,” otherwise known as the bottom 80 percent.

As he researched this further, he came to discover that this divide didn’t apply only to money and influence, but other areas, too. Virtually all economic activity was subject to his previous observation.

He observed that 80% of Italy’s wealth at the time was controlled by only 20% of the population.

Since the development of this rule, humankind has used this particular ratio in all kinds of situations. Even if the ratio isn’t always exact, we see this rule applied in many industries and in life. Examples are:

  • 20% of sales reps will generate 80% of your total sales.
  • 20% of customers account for 80% of total profits.
  • 80% of the revenue will stem from 20% of the workers.

Either way, I’m sure you can piece together why people call this rule the 80 20 rule over Pareto’s Principle[2].

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Make Your Life and Your Business More Efficient with the 80-20 Rule - Salesforce Canada Blog

    In terms of how this particular rule will be able to work for you, it’s a matter of applying this rule to how you spend your time. For us to see success, the goal is simple.

    We need to set it up in such a way that 20% of our input is responsible for 80% of our results.

    Another way to think about it is we use 20% of our time on activities that give us 80% of our results in a given area of life.

    How Does the 80 20 Rule Work?

    To best explain this, let’s visualize a bit.

    In an ideal world:

    • Every employee would contribute the same amount of effort to work.
    • Every feature that’s released for an app or product would be equally loved by users.
    • Each business idea you come up with would be a hit.

    In that scenario, planning would be a breeze. There wouldn’t be any need to analyze anything so long as you put in the effort.

    But that’s not reality.

    Yes, the effort is certainly an element, but what the 80 20 principle states is that everything is unequal. Invest in 10 start-up companies, and you’ll find only a few will pass year two and make it big. You’re in a team of five, and there’ll be one person doing more work than others.

    We wish our lives were always one-for-one in terms of input and output, but that’s simply not true. Understanding this is key to understanding how the 80 20 rule really works.

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    So how does it really work?

    It’s a matter of focusing on what’s giving you the most in your life for little of your time.

    Going back to the few examples I’ve presented above, consider this:

    • If two start-ups you invested in are making it big, focus on having a more direct hand, and see if you can help them prosper more.
    • If 20% of sales reps are giving you 80% of your sales, focus on rewarding those and keeping their spirits high and motivated.

    These scenarios can go on and on, but the idea is to place your efforts on the 20% that is actually making the difference in your life. Another term that’s good to know is the diminishing marginal utility[3].

    Pareto didn’t come up with this one, but the law goes as follows: each extra hour of effort or worker will add less “oomph” to your finished results.

    Eventually, you’ll hit a point where you will spend a lot of time on small and unimportant details, similar to perfectionism.

    So before hitting that point, you want to have a laser focus on the most important details, from family and relationships to your work or business. Prioritize the activities that are going to move you forward the most, and be wary of adding extra time, effort, or more hands into those particular tasks moving forward.

    How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule

    So now that you have an understanding of the 80 20 rule and how it works, what is the best way to take advantage of it?

    Depending on where you are applying this rule, this can be used in all kinds of fashions.

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    For example, you can apply this rule to goal setting, as demonstrated by Brian Tracy in this video:

    Or you can apply it in terms of general productivity as explained in this article: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

    The core of this rule is that it forces us to ask ourselves the questions we wouldn’t consider otherwise. It helps us to place our focus in the right places with regards to all things in life.

    In short, the 80 20 rule places us in charge of our lives and helps us set out on our goals and dreams. With this in mind, here are some things you can consider concerning this rule.

    1. Focus on Your Big Tasks First

    While this is the essence of the 80 20 rule, it’s still worth mentioning. Why? Because so many of us feel intimidated by the biggest task. We instinctively avoid it and opt for smaller tasks first.

    We think that if we complete enough small tasks that we will feel motivated to finish that really big one later. But that’s really false hope at work.

    Once we finish off a lot of small tasks, we either feel drained, or we tell ourselves we’ll do this the next day.

    Instead of doing all that, bite the bullet and tackle the largest task first.

    If you need help with prioritization, check out this article.

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    I argue this by challenging you to ask yourself this one question:

    “Is the task I’m about to do the top 20 percent of my activities or the bottom 80 percent?”

    I’m sure you’ve seen time and again you or other workers spending a lot of time on one task for most of the day. In those kinds of grinds, you’re barely getting ahead and have next to nothing to show for it. That’s because they’re putting all their attention on work that’s in the 80 percent.

    It’s normally the big tasks that are part of the 20 percent.

    Another way to think about this is that everything we do starts a habit. If every day we spend our energy on low-value tasks, we will always prioritize those.

    2. Stretch This Into Personal Life

    While I’ve been talking about business and setting goals, remember you can use this in other areas of your life, too.

    Take your personal life and ask yourself some of these questions:

    • How much TV do you watch on a regular basis? What sort of shows are you legitimately into? These questions can help you in recognizing what shows you are watching purely for consumption. By applying the 80 20 rule, you can cut back on Netflix, TV, or YouTube video consumption and prioritize other areas of your life.
    • What does your wardrobe look like in terms of colors? Are there specific colors that you like? Knowing what you wear most times will help you in sorting out your wardrobe significantly. It also saves you time to come up with what to wear every morning.
    • How many newsletters do you actually read? This question can help you in figuring out which newsletters to unsubscribe to and can clear up a lot of space in your inbox. It can also relieve pressure from having to check your emails constantly.
    • How much time do you spend on your phone every day? How much of that time is actually doing something meaningful? These questions can help you in clearing out various apps that aren’t helping you with your goals. In fact, this can curb the need to check your phone constantly.

    Final Thoughts

    The 80 20 rule is the productivity hack that many of us need, and for good reason. As you can tell, it’ll help you to focus and prioritize the more important aspects of your life.

    Not only that, but it’ll maximize those outputs at the same time and ensure you’re not spending too much time working on them. All you need to do is start asking questions and taking action.

    More Techniques to Help You Succeed in Life

    Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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