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That’s OK If You Are A Procrastinator…Some Last-Minute Hacks For You

That’s OK If You Are A Procrastinator…Some Last-Minute Hacks For You

Procrastination can be a real pain in the rear end. It feels good blowing things off because that usually means we got to what we want to do instead of what we have to do, but there are some drawbacks to all that too. Working in a frenzy isn’t good for your stress levels or your blood pressure. Sometimes it does happen so let’s take a look at some productivity hacks to help you get your work done at the last minute.

1. Cut out all distractions

When you’re coming down to the wire the last thing you need is a distraction. Every time you return a text message or stop for a moment to sing a song, that’s time you could have been spending working. Put your cell phone on vibrate, put it where you can’t see it, and focus on your work. If you’re at home studying for a big test, don’t put Netflix on because you’ll probably just end up watching that. If you must have music, try something without words like techno or classical because they can keep you motivated without stopping to make you listen to any lyrics. Distractions cost you time and if there’s one thing procrastinators can’t be wasting when a deadline is looming, it’s time.

2. Make a quick plan to tackle your work

productivity hacks

    One of the biggest mistakes procrastinators make is to just jump into a pile of work without thinking about it. We recommend that you stop and think about it for a minute. It’s very likely that whatever it is you’re doing can be broken down into smaller tasks that are easier to handle. By breaking down your task into smaller tasks, you give yourself focus and a tried and true way to estimate your progress. Do yourself a favor, take five minutes to sit down and look at everything you have to do, and then tackle them in a manner that makes sense instead of just throwing yourself at your work.

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    3. Take it easy and start out slow

    Doing last minute work is like running a mile. If you start running at a dead sprint, you’re going to wind up running out of steam more quickly. Start with something easy to get your mind and body prepared for the harder parts. You’ll find yourself in the zone eventually and then the harder stuff that takes longer will be something you’re prepared mentally to tackle.

    4. Don’t expect any miracles

    productivity hacks

      IF you’re coming down to the wire to get your job done then you’re not going to be producing your best work ever. Especially if it’s a difficult project. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to put out good work but it does mean that you should be prepared to make concessions when something takes too much time. If you’re doing a presentation and you had a really fun animation you wanted to do for a PowerPoint slide, you may need to let that go and focus on getting work done.

      5. Consume sustenance

      Food and drinks provide us with energy. When you’re meeting a deadline you’re going to need all the energy you can get. When you go to your desk to start working on that deadline project, take something to eat and drink with you. The added energy will help improve your performance and chances of getting a good project done on time.

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      6. Just get started

      productivity hacks

        Earlier we talked about making a plan and breaking your project into smaller chunks. It doesn’t really matter which chunk you start with first. The important thing is that you get started immediately. We also recommended tackling the easier chunks first which is still a good idea. However, if you find yourself just not getting the ball rolling, we recommend you pick a chunk, sit down, and do it. At the end of the day, the important thing is that you sit down and get into that mindset that you need to do work and if you need to start on a harder chunk to get that accomplished, then do it.

        7. Up the ante

        One of the reasons we procrastinate is because we simply don’t care about the end result. It could be a presentation at the office or that term paper in that class you never wanted to take anyway. To get around not caring about something, try thinking about it a different way to increase its importance. If you don’t get that term paper done, you’ll have to take the class all over again and do the term paper again anyway. If you don’t knock that sales report out of the ballpark, you may be demoted or fired. If you have to do something, you might as well do it right because it could affect things you have to do in the future. Doing something over again because you didn’t do it the first time is not a pleasant feeling.

        8. Identify when you’re just making excuses

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        producitivyt hacks

          This is the gateway to procrastination. You look at something and think of all the ways you can get it done later and not right now. If you can identify those excuses then it makes them harder to ignore. You may not feel well that day or you may want to watch the latest blockbuster in theaters with your friends. It’s something that doesn’t sound like an excuse but it really is. People work when they don’t feel well all the time and blockbuster movies are in theaters for more than one day. Netflix can wait, go get your work done!

          9. Don’t think in the abstract

          The difference between abstract and concrete is something you ought to know. When you think abstractly, you would say something like “I should write my term paper about the Civil War.” It’s okay to think abstract when you’re first starting out but if you procrastinated then you’re well beyond the starting point. You need to think more concrete. Woody Allen once said that, “80% of success is showing up.” If you don’t show up and put some concrete ideas down on paper (so to speak), then you’re not going to get any work done and you’re going to stress yourself out more.

          10. Don’t over-think it

          I am personally guilty of this all the time. I will sit and stare at a completed article for 25 minutes just because I’m not sure if it’s how I wanted it to be written. Meanwhile, my next article is 25 minutes closer to deadline. Don’t over-think things. Obviously if you spot a mistake or an error you should fix it but don’t over-analyze every little thing. That takes too long and you’ll begin to doubt yourself. Not everything has to be perfect all the time. In most cases, it just needs to be passable. You don’t graduate college by getting an A, you graduate by passing the classes. Remember that the goalposts aren’t set all that high and while you should try to do your best, you do not have to be flawless every time. Unless you’re a surgeon. Then you should probably aim for perfection every time.

          11. Forgive yourself

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          productivity hacks

            You may be sitting at your desk beating yourself up for letting this project of yours get this far out of control. Stop. It happens to everyone and you’re wasting valuable time, energy, and focus berating yourself. Everybody screws up. That’s why we have editors. Your job now is not to hate yourself but to fix the problem. So you should acknowledge that you messed up, forgive yourself, and get back to this business of living. You’ll save a lot of time and stress when you focus on the work instead of focusing on how you waited a week to start on the work.

            Really the bottom line to procrastination is to not panic. The work is going to get done one way or another and you owe it to yourself to not let things get in the way. The very first item on this list is to avoid all distractions and really the other ten points are just other (more abstract) ways you can get distracted. Bottom line: sit down, get it done. That’s all you really need to do.

            Featured photo credit: WhyAmILazy.com via whyamilazy.com

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            Published on January 16, 2019

            How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

            How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

            We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

            You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

            You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

            That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

            Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

            1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

            Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

            We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

            To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

            At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

            The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

            2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

            Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

            The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

            In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

            It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

            It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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            So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

            • Are you a great strategist?
            • Are you an effective planner?
            • Is Project Management your strength?
            • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
            • Are you the ideas person?
            • Is Implementation your strength?

            Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

            3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

            One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

            Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

            Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

            Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

            4. Take Time for Planning

            “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

            One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

            You can take the time to think about:

            • What’s the purpose of the project?
            • How Important is it?
            • When does it need to be delivered by?
            • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
            • What are the KPIs?
            • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
            • Who is working on this project?
            • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
            • What tolerances can I add in?
            • What are the review stages?
            • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

            Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

            5. Focus on Priorities

            Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

            Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

            One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

            1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
            2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
            3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
            4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

            James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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              The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

              If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

              If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

              6. Take Time Out

              To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

              If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

              Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

              In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

              Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

              7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

              Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

              I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

              Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

              If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

              8. Stop Multitasking

              Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

              So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

              When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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              If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

              9. Work in Blocks of Time

              To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

              I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

              Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

              Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

              Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

              Then take another 10-minute break.

              Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

              By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

              10. Get Rid of Distractions

              Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

              “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

              Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

              If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

              11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

              You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

              Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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              Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

              12. Take a Time Audit

              Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

              Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

              You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

              Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

              Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

              At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

              If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

              13. Protect Your Confidence

              It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

              When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

              Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

              When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

              Final Words

              A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

              The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

              If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

              Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

              Reference

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