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Pro-Active Steps to Prevent Procrastination

Pro-Active Steps to Prevent Procrastination

One of the biggest obstacles to completing all the tasks required during any day is procrastination – in other words, avoidance of any task that doesn’t appeal by doing other non-essential tasks instead. Most of us don’t even realize when we are procrastinating but a failure to regularly complete what should be an average amount of work during the day is an indication that procrastination is at work somewhere in our day. Once we are aware that this is a possibility, it’s usually quite easy to identify the tasks which are being avoided, and the “time fillers” being used to legitimately fill the time so that we are unable to do the things we want to ignore. Unfortunately, ignoring them doesn’t make them disappear; it just makes them become more of a priority the next day.

There are several key issues which make us avoid certain jobs and by identifying the tasks that we really avoid, and the ways in which we can make them more enjoyable, we can start to take control of the procrastination issue so that we can benefit from the success in completing what we need to accomplish each day. Some of these issues, with possible solutions, are as follows:


Time Taking Projects

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Issue:
These are projects which take up one line in our daily work schedule but which we know are going to take at least half a day or more to complete, and so instead of doing them we use the time to do five or six other less important tasks and feel we have done more! Of course, the project doesn’t go away, it just sits there until it becomes urgent and increases our stress level as it has to be done so quickly!

Solution:
Instead of giving the task only one line in the “to do” list, itemize each part of the project so that instead of one task, it becomes a series of tasks. It will take the same length of time, but at least it feels as if we have done something with our day.

Tasks We Hate

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Issue:
These are the projects which for some reason or other we just hate to do. They can be complex tasks such as comparative analysis, or simple ones such as filing the daily sales reports. Whatever they are, we put them off as long as possible for no other reason than we just don’t like doing them.

Solution:
Put jobs that are disliked at the top of the “to do” list so that they are over and done with in the first part of the morning, and the rest of the day can be spent doing more pleasant tasks.

Needing Perfection/Fear of Failure

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Issue:
These tasks are the ones where we want to make a good impression, or there is something crucial resting on how well we do our job. We avoid doing them because we fear that our work won’t be good enough and we will fail in some way.

Solution:
Think about what the worst thing that could happen would be if the project wasn’t perfect, but instead was a good as we can possibly make it. Then allocate a set amount of time each day to work on the project, allowing plenty of time to edit/review before the deadline. Realizing that it’s possible to perfect something to the point at which it starts to lose the original focus is another way of knowing when to let go of a project instead of keeping it on the list for yet another day instead of finishing it and sending it to the outbox.

One of the best ways of overcoming procrastination however is effective time management. This means identifying which scheduling tools work best for us, and making sure that we clearly identify and prioritize each task that we need to do each day. Keeping the above solutions in mind, we need to organize each working day so that our procrastination issues are dealt with and we end each day knowing that tomorrow is a day when we start a new set of tasks without having to deal with the ones we didn’t want to do today!

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Katie-Anne Gustafsson spent many years in business administration before becoming a WAHM where she learned many of the organisational skills and tools she needs to effectively balance the demands for her daily life.

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Leon Ho

Founder of Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 27, 2020

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

Here’s How to Create a To-Do List that Super Boosts Your Productivity.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

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These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

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You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks

9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

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When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

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When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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