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5 Simple Techniques You Need to Learn to Stop Procrastinating

5 Simple Techniques You Need to Learn to Stop Procrastinating

Do you want to learn how to stop putting things aside and just get things done sooner rather than later?

Here are five simple techniques you can make use of right away to help you kick your procrastination habits to the wayside.

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5 Simple Techniques You Need to Learn to Stop Procrastinating

1. Explore and map out the task at hand.

Sometimes procrastination sneaks up on us because we haven’t properly addressed just what it is we should be doing in the first place. A task always seems larger or more complicated when you don’t know the specific details! Think about what you’re trying to accomplish. Do you know what your desired goal or end result is? Consider making a list or mind-mapping all of the pieces involved in this larger task. What small steps can you take now to get there? Does your task only involve yourself or does it involve others? If you’re working with other people, you may find you need to collect more information or conduct more research before you can begin your work in earnest.

2. Identify and take action for the first small step.

Instead of tackling the whole entirety of your task (which can be an exhausting an intimidating experience), simply start with the basics and take one single solitary step toward your goal. You’ll break through the ice of inaction and will have the momentum to continue on with the rest of your work.

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Remember, sometimes the only step you need to take is a small one in order to get the ball rolling. For example, if you are looking to book a special party for your family at a new restaurant, but are dragging your feet on the task, just pick up the phone to find out the restaurant’s hours or visit their website to see what their menu is like to get the momentum going. Problem solved and procrastination averted.

3. Schedule time for fun—and limit your work.

It might seem odd to schedule an enjoyable reward in advance of doing your work, but this can actually be quite useful in helping you to get things done. You’ll have an enjoyable activity waiting for you after a job well done. You could plan to grab a latte with your friend at the local coffee shop, or see that new action flick at the movies. Once you’ve scheduled your fun, the next step is to set a limit on your work time. Whether it’s a specific amount of time spent working or certain amount of work to be completed, you give yourself no other option but to get the work done instead of needlessly dragging it out over many days, weeks or even months. Sit down, get to work, and then enjoy your well-deserved reward!

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4. Go through the motions.

Okay, so you don’t feel like going to the gym or writing up that email report at work. Instead of getting mentally weighing yourself down with a mountain of excuses or reasons to not do something, switch your focus into the physical world. All you have to do is go through the motions to get you on your way to completing your task. Pack up your workout gear, grab your car keys and head out the door or open up your email program and report materials and start typing. You’ll be one step closer to doing what it is you have to do. It would be silly for you to stop now that things are in motion, so why not just keep on going?

5. Eliminate distractions.

Are you easily distracted while you work? If you know you are prone to distractions in your environment, be it a an impromptu conversation with a co-worker to constantly checking your cell phone or email, it’s time to eliminate those distractions. Turn off your cell phone, log off of Google+ or Pinterest, go to a quiet meeting room or area of your office, study in the library, sit in a coffee shop, use a pair of noise canceling headphones, or hire babysitter to watch your kids while you finish your freelancing job at home. Take care to remove any distractions in your environment. There’ll be nothing left to do but to sit down and get to work.

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What anti-procrastination tool will you choose to help you get your work done? Leave a comment below.

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Rashelle Isip

Blogger, Consultant, and Author

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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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