Procrastination is the scourge of businesses everywhere. As Benjamin Franklin’s quote would suggest it is often far easier to take our time doing a particular task, attempt to demote it on our to do list, or put it off altogether than it is to complete such a job. The problem is that it’s very easy to say, “I’ll do this later”. When later comes, though, how much intention do you have of keeping your word?
Stop procrastinating and get it done today!
1. Ban distractions
I’m sorry, but this means banishing social media, games, and checking your phone into the depths of the evening. Things like Facebook, Twitter, and Candy Crush are the bane of businesses. Be strict; we’re so engrossed in our lives outside of business that it’s time to separate the two. Check your phone at lunchtime, by all means, but ensure it stays in a drawer the rest of the time.
2. Set yourself goals
It’s so much easier to get things done if you have an endgame; decide what definitely needs to be completed on any one particular day and ensure that your goals have been met.
3. Make a list
As silly as it sounds, sometimes the satisfaction of being able to cross something off a physical to do list can far outweigh your insatiable desire to reach the next level of Candy Crush. Make a list, buy yourself a packet of highlighters, and start getting things done. It feels good, doesn’t it?
4. Group tasks
It can be so much simpler to work your way through your to do list if similar tasks are batched together. If you need to be in one corner of the office for a particular job, for example, aim to do everything else that needs to be done over there too – even if that means skipping ahead of yourself. You’ll find jobs almost complete themselves, and you’ll be surprised how quickly things get done.
While making your list and grouping tasks be sure to prioritise. Business can be overwhelming and it’s so easy to become bogged down by everything that there is to do. If it’s not essential leave it for another day, or risk becoming disillusioned by your lack of a completed list.
6. Start small
Choose one business goal that you’d like to prioritise over the others and run with it. One of the biggest causes of procrastination is an overwhelming workload; when you can’t see your desk it can be very easy to give up looking at all. Aim to complete one big project a day, or week, and soon blank spaces of desk will begin to appear.
7. Challenge yourself
Sometimes it’s far easier to procrastinate than it is to complete a task that we’re afraid will be difficult. Challenge yourself to step out of that comfort zone; business is about learning new skills, developing your characters, and, sometimes, doing things we don’t want to do.
8. Be tough with yourself
The majority of the time you will only have yourself to blame for your procrastination. It’s time for that reality check. What’s more important; checking social media, or replying to that REALLY important client email? You know the answer to this one, so make sure you check your behaviour regularly. If it doesn’t need to be done, don’t do it. Focus on the important items that crowd your to do list.
9. Reward yourself
Any job will feel so much easier if you allocate a reward upon its completion. If you have a heap of emails to work your way through, for example, tell yourself that you’ll have a coffee break once they’re done. Similarly, if you’re short on motivation, set yourself five or ten-minute motivation breaks; once you’ve worked solidly for an hour or so, be sure to treat yourself.
If you recognise that you’re becoming one of life’s ‘avoiders’ – that is, somebody who will do anything to avoid the task at hand – the good news is that there’s a remedy to procrastination. Following any of these nine steps is bound to improve your productivity tenfold. Additionally, you will soon find that you start to think very differently about the way you tackle business; with distractions gone, lists written, and a positive frame of mind, anything is possible.
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