Procrastination. Even the thought of the word drives me crazy. But why does it emote such a response to anyone aiming for higher performance, yet has become such a part of our daily routine?
Battling procrastination can sometimes fee like battling a three year old to eat more vegetables. But it doesn't have to. Here are some effective ways to battle procrastination, GSD (get shit done!), and become more efficient.
1. Learn Your Biggest Distrac.. HEY What Was That??
How distracted have you become when it matters most? Sooner or later you just become distracted with something that gets in the way of doing more important, productive goals. Just how long have you scrolled through the New Feed on Facebook when you know you should have spent that time working on something meaningful? How long can you actually spend talking about your past weekend around the water cooler?
To really know where we spend our time, we need to start tracking. Around the office try wearing a stop watch or something inconspicuous. Every time you should be doing something important but aren't start the timer. And it doesn't have to be in conversation or anything like that. Simply, how much time are you spending unproductive?
You can also install web site blockers (I use StayFocusd for Chrome) that will block a list of websites - or even partial words from a domain name - you've predetermined are detrimental to your performance.
You can also utilize a pair of headphones in a few different ways. Even if you are not listening to anything, just the physical feeling of having them on your head helps to eliminate "outside" distractions and allow you to buckle down on your most important projects.
2. Pinpoint Your Daily Goals First Thing When You Wake Up
Start your day on a high with a short list of goals you'd like to accomplish... then start making them happen.
Sort them into order of importance - there's no benefit in putting off the big stuff for the small, time consuming and mentally draining tasks. (Okay, I make my list and do one simple task to get the ball rolling, like load the dishwasher while my coffee maker is brewing).
Why should you start with the big goals? First thing in your day you have the most time available to accomplish those goals - but be wary of spending all day on one task. If your goal is too big, break it down into smaller steps and keep track of how much time you're spending on each.
Remember, we're fighting procrastination. Do something!
3. How Can You 80/20?
The 80/20 Principle - aka the Pareto Principle - basically boils down to this: 80% of your output comes from 20% of your input. Which means that the majority of your results come from only a small portion of your daily effort.
The key with the 80/20 Principle is to define which 20% brings 80% results. If you are in sales, for example, do you book the most appointments between 9am-12pm? 4-6pm? After dinner? If you are in the process of losing weight, do you know that the majority of your effort is actually found in the few minutes you spend at the grocery store or preparing your food?
The principle doesn't always break down to 80/20, but it can sometimes work even more in your favour. But always aim for finding what brings you the most joy, best performance, and highest satisfaction with the least possible time.
4. Care To Eliminate?
Building off the 80/20 Principle, what can be eliminated altogether from your daily routine, as it brings absolutely no pleasure, drains you physically or mentally, and wastes more than it eve brings?
Name three things you can do without right now - it's probably a longer list than three, but the top three will be easy and most on your mind, robbing you of focus on more important tasks. (My top three? Online shopping, ice cream in the freezer, the comfy couch).
Professionally, who on your team is better than you at something? That's exactly who should be doing it, whether it's conference calls, answering emails, firing people, whatever - by eliminating all the things you're not the very best at you're more easily able to focus on the things that you are.
5. Force Action
Procrastination stops when you force yourself to take action. Even then, it might just take a little extra to get over the hurdle and back into the groove of effective productivity.
Sometimes I'm at the gym and I just don't feel like working out. Ever happen to you? To battle through that feeling I'll do a set and really push hard, sometimes to failure so I can really feel the burn - the great feeling of hard work.
How can you feel the burn? Go all out. Force the extra, intense effort for a little while to get out of the low-performance rut. Get out of your comfort zone and aspire to get greater.
Isn't that why we're all here?