Procrastination, whether lacking in energy to finish a project, or being distracted by email, is stopping us from working effectively on our creations and projects and is taking valuable time away from promoting the work we have.
Many of us want to cut down on time spent on wasteful activities, and much has been said about how to reduce procrastination. Despite this, many of us still procrastinate! I think a lot of this has to do with the suggestions to plan what you do, and this is putting us off taking action.
Drawing from my own experiences as a writer and illustrator and the web, I’ve come up with a selection of ways to reduce procrastinating without the need to plan.
1. Take a deep breath and just start
Don’t waste time planning and thinking about it. This is simply another way to avoid actually doing tasks. If you intend to plan, most of what you need is in your mind anyway, so get started and things will tend to fall into place.
2. Expect discomfort and suck it up
Many people put something off because they expect a task to lead to negative emotions, including boredom. Realize that not everything you do will make you feel good, then do it, then feel great when it’s done.
3. Turn off the computer
Personally, the computer is my main source of distraction, and I’m sure others feel the same way. When I was writing my book, I wrote it physically in another room, and got so much more done than had the email and Google been flashing away in front of me. It might seem obvious, but avoid distractions like these and you’ll get more done.
4. Be more decisive at dumping things you don’t need
Be quick to remove/throw away email, paper, even desk clutter that you simply don’t need or will distract you. Cut out this hesitation to trash, and you will have more time to do things that matter.
5. Approach large projects in smaller chunks
For large jobs, the only planning you need to do is in deciding to start working on a small step within the wider project and simply doing it. Your plans for projects become taking action with the smaller aspects of it, instead of meticulously preparing the entire thing at once.
6. Quit the self-deception
A lot of us will dream up excuses for not doing things, such as ‘I’ll be in a better mood to do this tomorrow’. Simply be honest with yourself on what needs to be done and be free of irrational thought, and the job in hand will become much clearer.
7. Do the things you don’t want to do first
Get finished what you are dreading or dislike doing before you do anything else work-related in the day. Even committing ten minutes to the task will help you get the ball rolling for the project.
The best way to get unwanted jobs done is to set a timer, say for thirty minutes, that you spend working solely on this task. When the time is up, you can reward yourself with what you prefer doing.
8. Alternate your tasks
If you face a tough or dull task, do something you enjoy before and after it. This will bring a sense of harmony into what you’re doing and has the effect of cancelling the negativity associated with certain tasks.
9. Understand your body clock
I’m sure you’ve all got some sense of what times of the day suit you for working more effectively. Tailor your day, and the times your working energy levels are highest, to the work you do. Don’t feel that because others say one is freshest in the mornings that you should work in the morning. Do what suits you.
Aside from getting regular and appropriate levels of sleep each night, don’t ignore the importance of taking defined breaks away from your work.
Obviously a break will replenish energy and keep you feeling fresh. However, one of the real benefits of taking breaks that I’ve personally found, is in gaining the sensation of starting something every time you return to what you were doing. Knowing that you are starting something, even if it is in the last stages of a project, will bring to your work a renewed sense of enthusiasm.
What do you do to cut down on wasting-time?
For a similar article, see: 6 ways to save time promoting yourself on the internet.