Do you procrastinate?
I used to. It’s one of my natural tendencies. While I thrive on the pressure of deadlines, I also acknowledge the self-sabotaging behaviour of leaving things to the last minute. Over time I've made some positive changes to the way I do things. These days I'm better able to stay on top of what needs to be accomplished in any given day from both a business and personal perspective.
The first step to combat my chronic procrastination was to alter my mindset. In other words, I had to get my head in the game. I took an honest look at how my habits supported or stopped me from accomplishing what I set out to do. I gave some thought to my priorities and set myself up to succeed.
I got rid of negative routines like checking my email first thing in the morning before tackling some of the priority items on my daily 'To Do' list. I also learned not to beat myself up but instead encouraged myself to make some positive changes and to be open to shifting gears in a way that allowed me to accomplish the tasks at hand now, instead of later.
While I haven't conquered procrastination completely, here are some helpful tips I've picked along the way in my efforts to stop wasting time and get more done. I hope you too find them useful.
Don't let fear get in your way
Deal with fear by staying in the present. Remove the focus from yourself and onto what you need to accomplish. Take the time to prepare for the task at hand. Believe in yourself. Let go of expectations. Forge through the fear and take that first step. Move forward one step at a time. You gain confidence by experience. Don’t allow fear to hold you back – take action and see what happens.
Break down BIG projects
If you have a lot on your plate and you can’t delegate – break it down. Get the details out of your head and into a plan of action. Start with one small step you know you can do and then commit even as little as 10 or 15 minutes to get started. Take action. The key is to set yourself up so you can succeed one small step at a time.
Get advice from someone in the know
Don't remain frustrated. Instead seek the expertise of someone who can help. If you're unsure of what to do, call in someone who has some experience with the matter at hand. Don’t spin your wheels (and waste countless hours and energy) trying to figure something out yourself when you can seek help. Find the help you need and take action.
Delegate or motivate yourself with a timer
Stop putting things off simply because you hate doing them. Either delegate or commit to doing it and get it done ASAP. Set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and just dig in. Try to get your most dreaded tasks accomplished earlier in the day so they're behind you and you can move forward in a positive manner. Think of how great you'll feel once your task is behind you.
Focus on the key action steps
Take an honest look at what you need to achieve today and what actions you must take in order to accomplish all you need to do. Keep it simple. Focus on your primary action steps and don’t allow yourself to get side tracked.
Take it one step at a time
When you focus completely on the goal at hand, you increase your efficiency 100 percent. Set a time limit for your task, accomplish it and move on. We are more productive when we are working against the clock. Setting time limits and adhering to them will be a work in progress but it's well worth the effort once you see the improvement you’re making.
Keep moving forward
Unlike standing still, taking action propels you forward. Sometimes it may feel like you're taking one step forward and two steps back but it is movement nonetheless. Keep going. Be consistent. Don't give up and start procrastinating again. The more consistent action you take, the better the results.
Make yourself a priority
You're important. Practice self-care by giving yourself permission to take breaks and to rejuvenate between tasks. Decide on how long your breaks will be and what form they'll take. Pushing through when you're exhausted is counterproductive. Regular exercise and a good night’s sleep needs to be a priority. It's easy to procrastinate when we're tired and run down. Instead pace yourself by taking frequent breaks but be discipline to get back to the task at hand once the break is over.
Pick one task and get started
Select a task you’ve been putting off like clearing the clutter from your dining room table that has become a catch all for everyone’s stuff. Set a timer and get moving. Trust me, you’ll feel great when the nagging task is a thing of the past.
What have you been putting off?
Have I inspired you to take action?
If so, what is your first task or project you're going to tackle?
Please comment below.
Distractions, they are all around us. It’s so easy to get sidetracked from the things matter most. Learning how to minimize our distractions and focus more on our priorities goes a long way to improving the quality of our life.
Focusing our days on what really matters can be a challenge as is learning how to zero in and be productive. It takes discipline to manage our time wisely but it can be done.
I’m still learning how to make the most of every day but I have found some small successes along the way. For me, taking a few minutes at the end of each day to write down my schedule for the following one, does wonders for helping me stay on track and work toward my goals.
Having an action plan not only gives me an outline and a direction for how I want to spend my day but it also helps me decrease the time I spent on unimportant activities.
Following are my personal recommendations on how best to harness the power of a schedule.
Plan to do something every day you enjoy
I know I’ve talked previously about the value of scheduling in ‘me’ time but it really is important and needs your daily attention. Every day, schedule a block of time to do something you really enjoy. It doesn’t matter what it is or how much time you spend doing it. What’s most important is you give to yourself daily. Even five minutes spent doing something that fires you up will do wonders for improving your life and your relationship with others. You’ll be better able to tackle the rest of your day and give to others once you’ve given to yourself first.
Align your actions with your priorities
I may be old school but I’ve found putting pen to paper to be one of the best ways to figure out and stay on top of what’s most important to me. Journaling has helped me find clarity in what my priorities are and then writing down my daily schedule has taken it one step further.
When I write down my action plan for the following day, I am acknowledging not only what needs to be done but also what my priorities are. Without a written plan, it is easy to neglect what’s important and fill my schedule with meaningless stuff.
If you’re in the habit of neglecting what’s most important, it’s time to re-evaluate and take an honest look at your life and the changes you need to make. You have the power to change and live according to your priorities. We all do.
Increase your productivity with batch tasks
In any given day we have responsibilities and tasks demanding our attention. Without a plan of action, we can easily waste valuable time transitioning between activities in different locations. The best way I’ve found to minimize the time I spend transitioning between one activity and the next, is to group my tasks with other like tasks. For instance, I’m now in the habit of scheduling in personal task time before or after appointments I have with my lifestyle coaching and consulting clients. When I’m booked to be in a particular area of the city I live in, I will make a plan to run a personal errand before or after a client visit. It’s practical, makes sense and saves me a great deal of time by not having to go out and run the errand later.
Give some thought to how best you can schedule your tasks so they flow better and free up time for other things that really matter.
I’ve always thrived on a deadline. Maybe it’s my background as a photojournalist, but I’ve found a deadline to be a very powerful tool in getting something accomplished within a specific time frame. When we’re faced with a deadline, it is human nature to up our game and increase our effort significantly.
I am a natural procrastinator. Procrastination is one of my personal weaknesses. I use self-imposed deadlines as a way to avoid procrastination and take immediate action. When I write down my daily schedule, I also put time limits on my tasks. Further, I use the Pomodoro technique (the ‘timer’ method, I’ll explain more about it in a future post) to better help me focus the time I spend on each task.
Take one small daily step toward a BIG goal
We all have dreams. The difference between a dream and a goal is the action we take. Achieving short term goals are one thing but it’s accomplishing those big goals that can really challenge us. The only way I’ve found to achieve the large goals I’ve set out for myself is to make regular, daily progress towards them.
One of my personal goals is to downsize and relocate after my husband retires and our youngest son is finished his university studies. We’ve been in our home almost 27 years and we’ve accumulated a lot of stuff. Every day I do at least one thing that works towards my goal. (An action step may be as simple as removing an item or two from my wardrobe or culling my collection of gift bags and making a donation to a local charity.) My deadline is about five years down the road but the action steps I’m taking now will help me get there, without a lot of stress, panic and stuff to have to deal with when it comes time to make a move.
Every night schedule a small action step for the next day. Before long you’ll find those daily action steps have moved you much closer towards accomplishing your goal and the effort put forth, was not only manageable but rewarding as you’re seeing positive results for your efforts along the way.
You are in control. By scheduling your days, you’re also managing your priorities, focusing on what matters most, and better managing your time by deciding how you spend it.
What will be on your schedule for tomorrow?