How do I stay productive? You mutter internally as you walk yourself out of the room where you’ve just had a weekly project meeting. When you sink into your seat at your designated desk, your mind drifts away and your hands start slowing down on your keyboard. Whatever you were tasked to do for the day or week starts leaking up and over the containment cell that is your brain. Somehow, it seems like it’s a lot of work to complete, which is, technically, what you were hired for, but your mind just isn’t catching up with everything like it should be.
Sometimes your mind can slide into a bubble that you just can’t seem to get out of. Time seems to slow to a stop as you browse the Internet. I’ve got to stop procrastinating… in five more minutes, you tell yourself. Maybe hilarious cat pictures take over the better half of your day. Or maybe you sit at your desk imagining the heads of everyone around you have just morphed into animal ones. Lunch break skips by in a heartbeat as you scroll through your social media feed while nodding along to your colleague’s rant. Before you know it, it’s 8pm. Your phone lights up, silently announcing that your friends are sending you texts. You’re doing overtime while being more than fashionably late for dinner and drinks.
Procrastination is the thief of time, as they say.
Here’s How To Stay Productive And Quit Procrastinating
Why foolproof, you ask, clicking your pen as you sit defeated in your chair. If you think about it, attempting at least one of these steps with all your body and soul, you might actually get something done. And something is better than nothing, right?
Switch Up Your Morning (or Night) Routine
We’ve all been there. That moment when our alarms ring, and we just want to hit the snooze button before sinking back into our pillows. After sleeping, our body has just had a chance to rest, and rid itself of the previous day’s physical and mental toll. Sit up and roll yourself out of bed as soon as you can. Here’s where you can give yourself a pat on the back for setting apart some time to juice up on those fresh vibes. Make sure you physically move that body out of bed, though. This is a vital move to kickstart your mornings. If you work a night shift, chances are you’re probably going to wake up in the early afternoon or late evening. Wake a couple hours earlier and get moving. If you can’t bring yourself to start working out, try doing some stretches or meditation.
Strategize Your Day
A thousand and one tasks to sink your teeth into, yet your brain can’t seem to gauge which one to start with. Set up your priority list to avoid procrastinating any further. Grab your notebook, tablet, or fire up Evernote on your smartphone. If your hands are occupied, holler for your Google Assistant. Next, ask yourself: Are irrelevant tasks or requests clouding your field of vision? Stay productive by saying no to them. If Jimmy from Finance persists, spare him a couple minutes and hear him out. Then, delegate or refer him to someone else who’s more capable of managing his request at that very moment. Priority, not urgency, needs to be the basis of your list.
Tackle Like A Footballer
We know you want to lose the habit of stalling. The hardest part is always figuring out where to start. Start each day by tackling the tough things first. Think of each task like a puzzle piece to a large jigsaw. Sounds cliche, but if you give it a go, you might learn something from it. If you can’t seem to figure out where to begin, start by figuring out what the tiniest piece of research is needed for your project first and get that done. Once that’s over with, you already have a piece of the puzzle down – move on to the next small piece. Continue working in this manner, building up to the last remaining piece until everything is complete.
Power Through Like A Power Forward
That’s the last sports metaphor you’ll see here, promise. Here’s how to power through your to-do list: Take 10-minute breaks after completing every task, and set a goal before starting each one. With those 10 minutes, try to do something that you love or really enjoy doing. This way, you get to blank out for a short while and allow your mind to relax before continuing on to the next item on your list. So once that’s over, you can tick that project or task off your list, and bask in the feeling of accomplishment. Looking back on what you’ve achieved at the end of the day, you’d be surprised at how much you got done. There’s no time for any procrastinating when you have proper goals in mind before you start any project.
Set Your Own Deadlines
Say goodbye to your procrastinating ways when you get into the habit of creating deadlines for yourself, especially if you’re a freelancer. If you work for someone else, and there are no deadlines set for you – even better. Power through and meet those self-made expectations with a vengeance. Launch an app that reminds you of your deadline every half hour, or trust the alarm on your phone to alert you of the time. Once you start setting specific timelines and delivery dates for yourself, you’re basically organizing your projects by priority and not urgency. It’s a lot easier to get things done this way, than when you have everything floating around in a chaotic mess.
Get Yourself A Buddy System
If all of the above fails you, or if you can’t seem to make any progress on your own, try forming a group of friends. There’s motivational power in a bunch of people striving for similar goals. That strength of unity carries on in anything – sticking to your no-soft-drinks diet, staying away from your pack of cigarettes, staying disciplined in learning a new language or gaining muscle mass. In this case, your main goal should be trying to get things done. Find some workmates who can help set you back on the right track when you hit that derail button. When they start rolling downhill into the land of procrastination, cover for them the same way they did for you. Who says you can’t make friends at a workplace? 😉
While it’s important to develop good habits and continuously strive to improve yourself, taking breaks are as equally important. Avoid burnout and stay stress-free by setting priorities and managing your (or your bosses’) expectations.
Next up, check out how to stay creative with our ten techniques.