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Middle Finger to Productivity—Here’s How to Procrastinate Like a Boss

Middle Finger to Productivity—Here’s How to Procrastinate Like a Boss

So I’m sitting here, working (actually trying to work) and thinking about this whole productivity thing. I mean, I know that being productive throughout the day is a very nice concept. One that can bring your business/hobby/any other activity to the next level. However, aren’t we just too productivity-focused in the 21st century? Before the year 1600, the word “productive” didn’t even exist, yet people were still able to function perfectly fine on a daily basis. How come?

Why we procrastinate

Obviously, I am not a madman and I won’t say that productivity is a bad thing. In fact, I wrote a number of articles focusing on different aspects of productivity, and I do consider it one of the main things to master in our lives. Personally, I’m a freelance writer, so if it wasn’t for productivity and work organization I wouldn’t be able to make a living and get paid to write, but I also think that treating productivity like this unattainable goal is only going to bring bad results. Most people struggle to be productive just because they don’t realize how simple things are, and how little you have to actually keep in mind.

One of those things is being and feeling relaxed. If you’re not relaxed, you won’t be able to produce any good results (no matter what you’re doing), and this is where procrastination comes into play. Whenever we realize that there’s so much stuff to do, yet so little time, we immediately get stressed out and decide to take care of the easy (but unimportant) stuff and postpone the essential. This is procrastination.

Now, a short distinction between procrastination and laziness.

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  • Not doing anything at all: laziness.
  • Doing simple tasks instead of important tasks: procrastination.

Should you procrastinate?

This is the kicker. Yes, you should, because why the hell not?! Most authorities in the productivity niche say that we should always take care of just the essential tasks and fight every, even the smallest case of procrastination. I say the opposite (I guess I’m no authority then).

What I’m trying to convey here is that you can procrastinate if you’re in the mood, and use this time to reevaluate your goals. Here’s what I mean:I have never met anyone who would honestly want to get a given project going yet couldn’t find the time to do so. If something is important to you, you will find the time and dedication. If something is not that important, though, you will struggle to get it done because you’re acting against yourself.

What it all means is that “essential” tasks are not really essential if you don’t feel like taking care of them. The problem is that sometimes we like to (or feel the need to) fool ourselves that something is important to us, when in fact, it isn’t. The lesson here is rather simple: If you’re in the mood for procrastination, do it, do it like a boss, and use this time to reevaluate what’s on your plate.

However, before you start…

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Improve your schedule and relaxation

The whole concept of reevaluation I’m going to present in just a minute is a rather brutal one, so before you can try it out I advise you to take a look at your current schedule and “relaxation levels,” so to speak.

As I said a couple of paragraphs above, the lack of relaxation is often one of the main causes of procrastination. The thing is that when you’re relaxed, you’re in control. You have no doubts or stress regarding the things you should be doing and when you should be doing them. Relaxation allows you take care of the tasks you have planned, instead of finding alternatives.

That’s why before you do anything else, it’s really important to build a schedule that you are happy with—one that makes room for any non-work-related activity you wish, and one that doesn’t require constant late night work. When you have this, you can spend the evening relaxing and recharging your batteries. This will allow you to work more smoothly during your productive hours.

So the only question is: Do you still feel the need to procrastinate? If that’s a yes then you need some serious reevaluation.

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How to procrastinate

Let me share my own example here as a kind of a case study.

For some time now (close to two months actually) I’ve been running an experiment in which every time I’m tempted to procrastinate, I don’t even try to fight it, but instead just go with the flow (step #1).

Then I spend 5 minutes or so trying to come up with the reason of my procrastination (step #2). I focus on the appointed most important task of the day and why I don’t want to take care of it. I’m trying to list every reason that comes to mind.

When I’m done, I just set the list aside and handle my other tasks—the ones I’m procrastinating with (step #3). Remember that these tasks should still matter; spending your time on anything that doesn’t matter at all is a pure waste.

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I repeat this process whenever procrastination hits me. Then, if I start noticing that one particular project is being constantly procrastinated on, it’s probably not the most suitable project for me after all. This causes me to reevaluate it, and in most cases get rid of it completely.

Picture such a situation: If you’re running a business and you know that cold calling is an effective marketing method, yet you keep procrastinating on it for two weeks straight, then maybe you should stop fooling yourself and try something that’s more suitable for you…? Now, in this example I’m not trying to say that cold calling is not effective. I’m just saying that it’s not effective for everybody. No matter what your job/work is, you should always find your own effective way of handling it, not the way you think is effective but never get to execute it with dedication.

The point is simply this: Do what’s right for you. If you find yourself procrastinating, you may just be in the wrong area of activities/tasks/projects.

Cut-out-‘n-keep cheat sheet

Just in case you like such things, here’s the cut-out-‘n-keep cheat sheet.

  1. Improve your schedule so you have time for anything.
  2. Relax.
  3. Procrastinate consciously (jot down the reason).
  4. Reevaluate your projects and goals.

What’s your take on procrastination? Do you consider it being the #1 enemy of a productive lifestyle?

More by this author

Karol Krol

Blogger, published author, and founder of a site that's all about delivering online business advice

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.

How on earth do you get out of that spiral?

Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.

So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:

1. Improve Your Time Management Skills

Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.

For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.

Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.

“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery

2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts

These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!

This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!

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But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.

For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.

There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.

3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools

It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.

Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.

4. Use Your Phone Wisely

Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.

If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.

5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs

If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.

In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.

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One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.

6. Use a “To Don’t” List

We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.

But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.[1]

Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.

7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia

When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.

Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson

And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.

8. Be Concise

Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.

One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,”[2] which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

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Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:

  • Making new contacts
  • Talking about yourself at a job interview
  • Meeting people at conferences or parties
  • Phone calls to new clients

9. Ask the Right Questions

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz

How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.

When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.

Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions.[3] When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

10. Learn as Much as You Can

You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.

Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

11. Look After Your Greatest Resource

No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.

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If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.[4]

Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.

12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder

As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.[5]

But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!

The Bottom Line

The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.

Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!

More About Working Smart

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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