Procrastination is a big problem for self-starters, leaders, entrepreneurs, and independent workers. Since we lead the pack and don’t answer to anybody, we are responsible for our own work productivity. We don’t have bosses or supervisors to assign tasks, set deadlines, or determine our schedules. Self-management is one of the toughest jobs of entrepreneurs, business leaders, and independent workers. The freedom comes as a double-edged sword, and without self-discipline, things could fall apart quickly.
Here are six of the most effective ways to stop and conquer procrastination;
Create a To-Do List
A to-do list will serve as your bird’s-eye view of your workday, week, or month. The list should include all your tasks, deadlines, and prioritized according to importance. It is best to create the list at the start of the month or week. List all tasks you need to accomplish and the projects you aim to complete. Break down the list into smaller lists – from the monthly list to weekly or daily. Shorter, and more specific lists are less overwhelming and more likely to get done.
The to-do list is not definitive. You can never fully predict how your week or day would turn out. Schedule changes and unexpected tasks and events can wreck your to-do list. Make your list a dynamic one that can accommodate changes and adjustments.
There can be hundreds of tasks on your list, and you only have the time to finish half of it. You can be working on a task and worrying about not finishing them all. Worrying, catastrophizing, and other work stressors will distract you from work, pulling down your productivity and focus.
Prioritizing your tasks will eliminate this problem. First, classify the tasks into four categories – important and urgent, important but not urgent, not important but urgent, and unimportant and not urgent. Work on your tasks in the same order of priority.
Important tasks are those that will affect our goals, while urgent tasks are those that are time-sensitive and non-delivery of which will affect the work processes of the team. If you find too many tasks are in the important and urgent group, it is time to look closer into the tasks to determine which can be planned and accomplished ahead of time.
Set yourself up for success, create a work environment that is free of distractions and time vampires. First, you have to determine what distracts you from work – noise, notifications, odd tasks, other people? Once distractions are identified, create a work environment without it. If notifications interrupt your train of thoughts, turn them off. If people chatter disrupts your concentration, work in a closed room. If you can’t keep off your phone, put it away while working.
Working in a distraction-free environment keeps your focus on the task. Eliminating work distractions might include removing distracting games and apps up from your computer, blocking some websites, travelling alone, or setting up your own office hat is free of clutter and distractions.
Set time-bound goals
Give yourself deadlines! A deadline is the best motivator to beating procrastination. Breaking large projects into smaller chunks of work, each with its set deadline will turn an overwhelming and difficult task into easy doable parts, each with a deadline. When I wrote my book, Pivotal Moments, I didn’t focus on finishing the entire book. I worked one chapter at a time. Aside from the ultimate deadline I set for the book, I also assigned deadlines for every chapter. Every time I finished a chapter was an accomplishment I celebrate. The celebration and the sense of accomplishment buoyed me into working on the next chapter.
Working with a calendar or a time management app helps a lot in keeping tabs of your productivity. A calendar will help you visualize your days and weeks ahead. You can jot in tasks and activities and also keep a record of what’s been accomplished for the day, week, or month. You can set up reminders for deadlines and appointments on productivity apps.
Use your peak hours to work on difficult tasks
Every person works differently. We use a different working approach, styles and even work hours. Peak hours are those few hours a day we have when we are most focused, energized, and productive. Some might start perky in the morning and then slows down towards the afternoon, while others are sluggish in the morning and take on momentum as the day ends. Know your peak hours and use it to tackle the most difficult tasks. With the difficult tasks done, you can go easy with the easier tasks or those that do not need full-on concentration during your off-peak hours.
Rewarding yourself is a win-win move. This will instill a sense of accomplishment, self-love, and positivity. The incentive will encourage you to work and get the job done. Celebrate each accomplished task with a reward for yourself. A reward could be as trivial as a walk with your dog, an hour-long nap, or a sweet treat. You can mark bigger accomplishments with grand gestures like a new bag, an indulgent spa session, or a fabulous weekend getaway.