Let’s talk about procrastination. Happens to the best of us, doesn’t it? There are days you do perfectly well with all your tasks, deadlines, and maybe even a little workout or book reading. Other days you postpone everything to the next hour or the next day and when the time eventually comes - you hate it. Or even worse, you never truly procrastinate; instead, you prioritize your daily tasks wrong and spend a great amount of time on things that are not relevant at the moment. As a result, you don’t commit yourself to important assignments and forget about certain tasks, which might lead to catching up with your work during family time or even late into the night. Sounds familiar? Well, keep on reading!
1. Eliminate time wasters
The first one is quite obvious, yet often overlooked. Eliminate all the unnecessary emails and phone calls, tasks that should be handled by somebody else, messages from friends and family, etc. Trust me, there are plenty in your day - both at work and at home! However, when you feel like you can’t concentrate, let yourself get distracted for a brief few minutes. Make sure to control the time, though!
2. Prioritize what’s left
Once you’re left with what’s essential, prioritize. Ideally, determine the priority and the impact of your tasks. Use just two indicators - High/Low. Number one should always be High Priority High Impact (HP/HI). These are the tasks that cannot be postponed and will significantly affect your or your company’s performance. Next, focus on High Priority Low Impact (HP/LI) tasks. They’re not that important, but still urgent, which in other words means they’re blockers. You need to deal with them so that you can quickly move on to Low Priority High Impact (LP/HI) ones, which require slightly more time - give them your full attention. The last one is always Low Priority Low Impact. They still need to be completed but aren’t urgent nor impactful.
3. Plan your work for the day, ideally the day before
Planning is key and planning wisely will significantly boost your productivity. What I like to do is plan my daily tasks the day before, after I’m done with my work. Planning the evening before is excellent for a few reasons: you have already finished the day’s work, so you can quickly determine what needs to be done tomorrow. It also saves a lot of the next day’s time. Instead of planning, you can get straight to business. It also puts you in the ‘organized person’ mindset, which helps you keep up with your tasks throughout the day. The best way to do it is by writing it all down, which brings me to the number 4 on our list.
4. Make to-do lists and stick to them
Don’t leave anything behind. It only makes sense when you 100% stick to your list. Writing down (with a pen and paper, preferably) and then crossing out the completed tasks is a great way to motivate yourself and track your progress. Just marking your task as done releases endorphins in your brain, thus creating the urge for more. That gives you an immediate push into starting the next task on the list. Keep your list close - it allows you to quickly determine how much work you have left and how much time it will absorb. Sticking to pen and paper is important because traditional notes stimulate your brain and help with memorizing. Remember about prioritizing with H/L Priority and Impact!
5. Set time for all your tasks and automate what’s possible
Once you plan all your tasks for the day, you need to set sensible time for every one of them and complete it within an estimated time boundary. I can’t stress enough how important automating is. Every day there are PLENTY of new tools emerging online with systems that can automate a lot of your daily dull and time-consuming work. We have habits and feel safer performing our usual tasks on our own, BUT, undoubtedly, some of our methods are outdated which consumes a lot of our precious time. A good example would be Zapier app, which allows you to connect a variety of apps from your iPhone. If you’re a Mac user, you might want to get a closer look at Automator and its built-in feature allowing you to automate everyday tasks on your laptop. These are just two examples and there are many, many more out there.
6. Outsource and delegate
And don’t be scared of it. Believe in people you work with and their competence in helping you. Stop telling yourself that you need to do EVERYTHING by yourself because you can’t. You need to stay true to yourself and estimate how much work you can really perform to make it efficient. Don’t be harsh on yourself; you don’t need to push yourself 150% every day to be effective. And stress certainly won’t help you succeed.
7. Get organized and clean your workspace
I start my day off with making the bed, a nutritious breakfast and cleaning my workspace. Only then do I open up my laptop and get to work. No exceptions. Clear space equals clear mind and I live by that rule. You would be surprised how much of a distraction your messy desk creates. Your personal life management reflects your attitude towards work so if you want to achieve professional success, start with organizing your surroundings.
8. Take a break
Last but not least. You need to give yourself a break, no excuses. It should regularly happenin-between tasks but you will also greatly benefit from setting a time limit for your work, especially when working from home. You need your leisure time and proper SLEEP. Ensuring sufficient length of free time is crucial for performing well and working effectively. A clear mind is a place for new ideas and great solutions. Additionally, slowing down allows you to fully focus on the work once you get to it. That way, you create way more value than continually pushing yourself to the limits.