Have you heard people rave about how making a to-do list is the best way to get productive?
But, Do you ever make a to-do list and sit down to work and then check your phone for a second and end up scrolling for hours?
Yes! Me too!
You see, to-do lists are fun and they’re great tools. but they don’t work, unless you do. Making a list doesn’t serve you, if you do not have a proper schedule and if you do not make time to get things done.
Procrastinating is such a bad habit and so difficult to let go off, especially in a world full of distractions. It kills your productivity, you end up wasting so much of your time and at the end of the day, you feel demotivated because you couldn’t get things on your to-do list done.
In today’s post I am going to share how to stop procrastinating and start taking action. These are 10 useful tips that will help you focus on the task at hand and on getting it done. I find that we often procrastinate to avoid doing the actual work. And it happens with everyone.
But worry not, there is definitely a way around it. These 10 tips will help you to stop procrastination and start taking control of your life and tackling that to-do list.
A little backstory to how how this post came about:
I was looking for a recipe online. So no wonder I went on Pinterest to look for inspiration. And I think we can all guess what happened next.
Because we have all been there. Scrolling through Pinterest for hours. Looking at recipes and having multiple tabs open at once. Because there is no end to it.
There are always more recipes to look at. Each better than the other.
And same goes with everything else in life. Whenever you look for ideas or inspiration or are just doing some research and trying to learn something.There is always more content to read, look through and to learn from.
And sometimes you spend more hours doing the research and less hours actually getting the work done. And without even realising, you are procrastinating. And while it may not feel like procrastinating because you are not essentially wasting our time.
This is termed as PRODUCTIVE PROCRASTINATION
You are reading something useful, learning a new recipe, it’s just that it is of no value in your life right now. And it’s called procrastinating because it is distracting you from focussing on your actual work.
This is even more harmful than plain right wasting your time.
Because when you spend hours watching Netflix, at least you know you’ve wasted your time.With this productive procrastination, you feel like you are always busy, you are always working on something, but you are not getting any actual work done.
How to stop procrastinating and start taking action:
#1: Remove distractions
We live in a highly distracted world and the social media notifications make it hard to concentrate on the task at hand for a long stretch of time. And the best way to stop procrastinating is by removing the distractions.
So if you find yourself reaching for your phone every few minutes or so, make sure to keep your phone away from your work desk so that it’s not within your reach. Yes, keep it physically far away from you. Because sometimes we pick up our phones subconsciously because our muscles are in the habit of doing so. You’ll realise this when you don’t have your phone close to you and your hands are trying to get a hold of a phone after every few minutes.
Another thing that I like doing is simply turn off the notifications for social or keep your phone on a silent mode, with screen down. That way, you will be less distracted by those pop up notifications on your screen.
#2: Schedule meetings & calls wisely:
I find that having my calls and meetings around the same time in a day helps me in being more productive through the rest of the day. So, whenever possible, I try to keep all my calls etc and club them together in a time block. That way I know that I won’t be getting any more calls through the rest of the day or when I am working on a project with utmost concentration.
It also helps me with being productive because after my calls I can keep my phone away without constantly wondering whether someone has called or not. And we all know what happens when we check our phones “for a minute”. We end up wasting our time and of course we don’t want that.
#3: SEt time for research:
If you research quite often and do a lot of writing, this one is super important. Have a fixed time to stop the research. Because there is unlimited information available and it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of information. So whenever you have a task at hand, Set a timer for how long you are going to research a topic and stop when the timer goes off.
After the timer has gone off, go through your research and see whether you’ve managed to get information on everything you were looking for. If not, it’s completely okay to research again ( Obviously), but with a timer.
#4:Multi-tasking is not your friend:
Even though a lot of productivity gurus have been teaching to multi-task, I find that focussing on more than one task at once, is actually counter productive for me. And I end up being focussed at none. There is no doubt that it works for tasks like driving and listening to an audio book, which is a great use of your time. But for actual tasks that require you to be focussed, this isn’t that effective.
That’s why I never multi task. It just divides your attention and mental capacity between tasks. But each person is different. If you feel like multi -tasking is good for you, then of course go for it. I find that it decreases my productivity and that’s why I stick to focussing only on one task at hand.
I even go to the extent of theme days. Because I find that doing the same activity throughout the day, makes me more productive when it comes to some of the activities like editing a video. I hate editing half the video and then coming back to it to edit the rest a few days later. Because by then I am completely out of the flow.
#5: Set deadlines for yourself:
There is something about the urgency of the task that makes you more productive to get it done. It goes with parkinson’s law, which says that work expands in order to fill the time available for its completion.
Meaning if you give yourself 2 weeks to finish a blogpost, chances are that it will take you two weeks. But If you give yourself 1 week, then you can totally get it done in 1 week as well. We see it all the time in action. We have a tendency to stretch the work, only to get it done at the last minute.
It’s pretty similar to the assignments we used to submit in school and college. nothing gets done before the deadline date, no matter when you start it. Because even if you complete it a few days before the deadline, you’ll end up going through it again, probably to revise and edit something.
That’s why, sometimes, it’s important to set deadlines for yourself and allocate a given time to a task rather than keeping it open ended. Yes! Set deadlines, even if you work for yourself or especially if you work for yourself.
#6: discipline is the key:
Setting rules, deadlines and everything won’t work, unless you are disciplined. Boundaries don’t work when compromises are an option. So if you have made a rule for yourself to not use social media from 9 A.M to 8 P.M, then don’t. Don’t be like ” Okay let’s just use my phone for 5 more minutes and then I will put it down”.
If you have set an alarm for 6 A.M. then wake up when the alarm goes off. Tell yourself that snoozing it is not an option. You have to be really disciplined in the beginning and then it becomes a habit.
Because the thing with compromises is, that it gets easier to compromise every consequent time. So if you cross a boundary and break a rule once, it will be easier for you to do it again and even easier the next time after that. And then, what’s the whole point of having rules and routines if you don’t follow them at all?
You know how mothers used to be so strict with boundaries for screen time? You need to be that strict with yourself and respect the boundaries you had set.
#7: Reward yourself:
I think as humans, rewards are our second biggest motivators, after fear of course lol. Set goals to get tasks done and when you have finished a big project reward yourself to a spa day. Or tell yourself that you will watch that Netflix movie when you get the essay done.
Rewards don’t always have to be expensive too. Tell yourself that you’ll bake your favourite cookies or cake and enjoy a slice after a productive day.
#8: Tackling productive procrastination:
As we already talked about productive procrastination, it isn’t always a bad thing. In fact at times it can be a good way to be more productive while taking a break.
Productive procrastination essentially means doing something productive while taking a break from work. I love cleaning my house when I am taking a break from work, but that’s just me. I have a thing for clean house and you just need to find something that you enjoy doing. And that’s productive as well.
It could be something like reading a book, or doing laundry, or catching up with some friends over a call. You get the point right?
#9: Find passion for the work:
Okay I have to be straight here. This is only often possible for things that started out because you had a passion for them.
So, like I started blogging because I was passionate about writing. But on some days, even writing can still feel like work because this is what I am doing full time now.
So, when you find yourself dreading some work that you absolutely loved doing earlier or something that used to be a passion project but seems like work now. Remind yourself why you started doing it in first place. Maybe relax the deadlines a little, if possible. And let yourself enjoy the process and fall in love with it again.
Because when you do something that you’re passionate about, chances are you’ll not procrastinate as much.
#10: Keep a vision board and a goals tracker:
I find this very motivating to get to work rather than procrastinating. The vision board keeps reminding me my goals and what I want to achieve in a given year.
And there is something about having that visual in front of you everyday. It makes you push harder and work on days when you feel like you are lacking the motivation.
Another thing worth mentioning here is to set SMART goals in the first place. Do not set unachievable goals that demotivate you and make you procrastinate. Here is how I set SMART goals and achieve them.
There you go. My top tips on how to stop procrastinating and be more productive. Hope you found some of these tips useful!
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