4 tips to stop procrastinating
We're all guilty of spending more time thinking (and talking) about a big project than actually doing it. We put it off for another time and another day, spinning our wheels instead of just getting the job done. This not only wastes time, but also energy!
Delaying important work will only build it up in your mind as a bigger effort than it might actually be, making it harder to start the longer it goes on. While the triggers of procrastination can vary, there are things you can do to combat it. Here are some tips to help keep you focussed and motivated at work, and help minimise procrastination during your day.
1. Create a to-do list that is clear, broken-down and digestible
When writing a to-do list for the afternoon, week or even month, it's important to be specific. If your tasks are too general, you won’t know where to start. One strategy is to break bigger projects down into smaller, more specific tasks. Instead of ‘Draft business proposal’, write down the various tasks involved -- conduct competitor analysis, draft introduction, outline objectives, assemble supporting documentation. Putting thought into what you want to actually accomplish with each task might take a little extra effort, but it will provide more direction and give you a much better idea of how to approach the bigger project.
2. Don't leave the big tasks for the afternoon
When you get to work in the morning, you probably find yourself prioritising smaller, admin like tasks so that you can just 'get them out of the way' before tackling the bigger, more important ones that will need all your concentration. But leaving that important report or proposal for later in the afternoon is a sure fire way to ensure it gets pushed back to tomorrow.
While catching up on emails is an important part of the morning, try not to let them dictate your morning. Grab a coffee, sit down and launch into whichever project you've been avoiding. Prioritising the important stuff will help you become a far more effective worker.
3. Ditch the distractions
Take a look at your computer screen right now. How many windows do you have either open or minimised that are totally irrelevant to your work? Facebook, online shopping sites, or even the paper? If they're there - you will browse, if they're not, you won't. If you're one of those people that simply can't disconnect during the workday, at least try to allocate yourself a specific amount of time to check in, for example, lock in 5 minutes after lunch just to browse your social media pages. When you're done, log out and close the windows so you're not distracted when you're working.
4. Let your team know when you've got a deadline
There's nothing wrong with letting your team know that you've got a deadline looming for something important and making yourself unavailable for a little while. Just give them notice and explain that it's a priority -- then close your email down, switch your phone to silent and put your earphones in. If it's possible, even get up and move to a quiet room where you're even less likely to be disturbed.