8 procrastinator-proof ways to get things done - now, not tomorrow
We've all been there. A project deadline not due for weeks. We could start now, have plenty of time to research and get everything completed in a relaxed fashion.
Or, we could take the same path as always and keep finding reasons not to start until days (or hours) before the deadline. Then rush around and pull it altogether as the hooter sounds.
Why do we procrastinate?
The main reasons people procrastinate include:
- a fear of failure
- a lack of interest
- no consequences of being late
- no immediate reward.
However, even if you see yourself as a master procrastinator, there are things you can do to transfom yourself into a do-todayer.
1. Create a To-Do List
Write them down (by hand, so they imprint on your mind) and number the items according to their importance, then get started on the first.
Some people like to get the easy tasks out of the way before concentrating on the more challenging tasks. A bit like warming up at the gym. Others prefer to dive in to the complex ones first and tackle the easy ones later.
Whatever your preference, make sure you tick everything on your list as you go so you can feel smug and proud throughout the day.
2. Group the tasks into Blocks
It is always easier to start and continue with jobs when they doesn't look too big or daunting. Whether it's a single task or looking down at a long task list you've just created.
Some ideas include:
- dedicating a block of time (say, from 10pm to 12pm daily) to call clients do nothing else in this period
- pulling personal emails into a separate file, trashing all emails that aren't important and immediately actionable mails, then reading what's left over
- keeping important meetings in the morning (9-10 or 10-11) when your mind is fresh and energetic.
3. Try the Pomodoro Technique
Named after the Italian tomato timer that inventor Francesco Cirillo used to come up with a time management philosophy that aims to give you maximum focus and creative freshness.
Here's how it works. For every project throughout the day, you:
- work for 25 minutes, then take break for five minutes
- shut off all other communication and distractions (including phone calls) during the 25 mins
- if you need to go to the bathroom or attend to an emergency, start again
- repeat four times (100 minutes of work time with 15 minutes of break time)
- then take a 15-20 minute break
- start again if you're not finished the task.
4. Give yourself constant reminders
Procrastination isn't always a deliberate act. It can happen because you forgot something. To avoid such a situation, use the reminder feature on your phone, mail or office assistant app to keep you on your toes.
Reminders will help in doing things at the right time, often saving you unnecessary money and resources.
5. Convey the importance of tasks to your team
Sometimes jobs or tasks feel mundane or insignificant, but are important steps towards a bigger goal. If your team have a project that seems small or they're confused about, make them feel valued by explaining why that 'cog in the wheel' task you need them to do is so crucial.
You can also send reminders to your team if you think it could help them to stay on track. But be careful not to come across as some control-freak Big Brother.
6. Relook at the targets you habitually avoid
Sometimes, despite creating a thorough to-do list with best intentions, we are able to conveniently ignore certain items on them. If this continues over a period, Houston, you have a problem.
This requires a bit of steely will at first, but make sure you tackle every item on the list as agreed with yourself, before moving to the next one.
7. Use a Project Management Tool
These are available in plenty these days. Get a project management tool like Trello or Asana and track your progress.
Asana has tasks, users add notes, comments, attachments, and more. Once the task is complete, you mark it and any followers will be updated.
Trello has boards, lists and cards for different tasks. Cards can drag and drop from one list to the next as they flow through the completion process.
8. Get comfortable
It's easier to find excuses and be distracted when our backs, backsides, tummies and minds are grumpy. So:
- take the time to set yourself up correctly at your desk so you feel comfortable
- eat a healthy snack and relax before you dive into your next task.
These little things can help get you in prime emotional, mental and physical shape to kick procrastination to the curb.
All around the world, millions of procrastinators are getting once-avoided tasks done quickly with the help of these simple techniques. And they can work for you too.