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Beat Procrastination and Get Stuff Done in These 3 Steps

Beat Procrastination and Get Stuff Done in These 3 Steps

Procrastination is a vicious fiend that can destroy your productivity with murderous intent. If you want to get stuff done, you need to apply these three tips today.

1. Begin (even if you don’t want to right now).

If I told you I always feel inspired to write, that would be a lie. But funny thing about that: without fail, after I grunt through an hour or two of work despite not feeling like it, I find myself in a state of flow where I lose track of time and keep on going until I have no words left to express. I often end up wondering, “What was all that procrastination about? This is a much better way to spend my time than what I was doing before*!” Your mind will resist your efforts to take action with all of its might. Please understand that your thoughts are convincing liars that will try to prevent you from doing things that will prove to be fun and fulfilling (don’t listen to them!). Prove me wrong. I dare you.

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*This morning, said “thing” was wasting two hours on Twitter. And that’s a convenient way to lead into…

2. Concentrate (even if that means avoiding all temptations).

Below is a list of my biggest time-wasters:

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  1. Twitter (I am a news junkie and that is where I get my fix).
  2. Netflix (If I get sucked into a show, House of Cards for example, heaven help me).
  3. Reading (Not a bad thing in itself, but I’m a very curious person, and can consequentially end up with 10-20 browser windows open at a time, which is very bad for my productivity as a writer).

I deal with these temptations by banning the use of social media while I write; saving Netflix for lazy weekends when I have nothing to do (and can have a guilt-free marathon); and opening my publishing platform in full screen mode immediately after I find what I’m looking for.

I used to have more temptations than those, but have removed most of them without mercy. Below is a list of the ones you might know well and how I dealt with them:

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  • Answering texts as soon as you get them = Phone stays silent unless you’re expecting an important call or are flirting with a person you love (or just have a really big crush on).
  • Refreshing your inbox obsessively = Set three specific times to check email in morning, afternoon, and evening.
  • Distracted by social media = Disable all text and email notifications, or use a concentration app if you can’t control yourself.

3. Deliberate (even if that means taking a step back from the daily grind).

“Priorities” isn’t a sexy concept to consider, but it could be the key that will unlock your productive power. It’s amazing how taking a step back can improve your perspective and make you understand what is really important. Below are some questions you should consider:

  • What is the point of my work? Why does it matter?
  • Is there a way to combine related tasks in a more logical manner?
  • Am I putting the needs of others before what makes me feel happy and fulfilled?

If you don’t see any purpose behind your work, it’s no wonder you don’t feel like working. Imagine the impact you hope to make in the lives of your readers, customers, or clients. What pain do you hope to help them deal with? What problem do you hope to help them solve? What goal do you hope to help them achieve?

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If you are performing tasks in a haphazard fashion, it’s no wonder you can’t get anything done. It is more efficient to group similar tasks together than it is to multitask without thought process.  Could you do all of your dishes, run all of your errands, pay all of your bills, answer all of your emails, or return all of your calls at a specified time?

If you constantly concern yourself with what other people expect from you, it’s no wonder you aren’t fulfilled. Understand that your ability to take care of others will be severely diminished if you don’t take care of yourself first. If you open your email inbox as soon as you wake up, you’re setting yourself up for a day that is ruled by the demands of others.

What helps you get stuff done? Tell us in the comments.

Featured photo credit: lazy sunday/David Urbanke via flickr.com

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Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at 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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