Procrastination has a strong hold on me. I’d like to think I’m not alone. We, the social media generation, have endless hours of fun right at our fingertips care of a well timed instagram or facebook stalk, or the shiny new delight that is snapchat face-swap and all those fancy, funny filters that could easily siphon away a whole evening.
Of course, sometimes, a bit of good old fashioned procrastination is harmless (or delicious if you’re a procrastibaker like me). If you work better under pressure and pull out some of your best work when the heat is well and truly on, there’s no harm done, right?
But, if you’re having trouble deciphering the fine line between productivity and procrastination and the results are showing up in cut-corners and missed deadlines, then it’s time to buck up and kick those procrastination habits.
In order to get you moving, I’ve pulled together my top four tips for increasing productivity when all you really wanna do is lie on the couch with Dr Oz on in the background and scroll through cat memes all day.
Write a list.
Like many of you, I love a good list. Writing lists, and even more so, ticking things off lists, is, in my opinion, one of life’s simplest joys. There is a certain catharsis that comes from pulling together a well organised and all encompassing list. But be warned! There are potential perils to list writing that you may be avoiding admitting to yourself.
For example, writing a solid list is productive. Avoiding ticking things off that list by writing another list is procrastinating.
The key here is to write “a” list. Just one. Write one comprehensive list and no more. I find assigning a priority to each task is the most effective. Then I start with the highest priority items and work my way down in order of decreasing priority.
When I feel like I’m getting a bit tired or stale, I might sneak in a quick low priority task just to shake things up – wild, I know.
It’s not rocket science but hey, it works for me!
Single-tasking only, for this chick. Well, ok. I must admit, I actually struggle with this one. I’ve always been under the impression that multitasking is king. But if that is the case, then single-tasking is queen – the one who’s pulling the strings behind the scenes and really running the show.
You see, I love a zero-inbox. And failing that, single digits will suffice. But keeping my inbox so tidy means being at constant attention to action/sort/forward and otherwise tend to every incoming email as and when it arrives.
Unfortunately, being 100% responsive 100% of the time leaves very little headspace to get the actual work done. So now when I’m super busy or have a tight deadline looming, I turn off my emails and block out time in my diary.
This one takes some practice but trust me, it’s the only way to maximise productivity and consistently get top quality deliverables out the door.
You know how people always say they have their best ideas in the shower, well I think that’s just because they’re all super relaxed and soapy when in the shower. Ok so the soap may not have that much to do with it, but the relaxy part surely does!
Your best ideas are never going to come to you when you’re hunched over a laptop you’ve been staring at for 10 hours straight, surrounded by discarded chocolate wrappers and a coffee-shop’s worth of half finished cups of tea.
So get up. Get outside. Take some deep breathes and walk around the block. Notice the sounds of the cute teeny little birds chirping (not the big black ones, they can be a bit too scary for my liking) and the gentle rustling of the golden and browning autumnal leaves as they fall to the pavement. See you’re more relaxed already, aren’t you?!
Even better if you like to #procrastiercise i.e. go for a run instead of working! This truly is the whole two birds one stone ideal (not the cute chirpy birds please, friends!!). If running isn’t your thing, try a quick yoga flow to get the blood pumping (home offices only for this one, guys. Let’s keep it sensible in the office). A five-twenty minute break will always leave you feeling refreshed and energised and more creative than when you set off.
Just do it.
This one is simple. Don’t just write lists. Start doing so you can actually start ticking things off. Because we all know that the only thing better than a list, is ticking things off that list.
Sometimes the task in front of you is tough. Like really hard and you think you can’t do it. I think I can’t do a heap of things when I start out but in the end I always get over the line.
For me, getting started is often the hardest step, so I tell myself to just do five minutes and then I can take a break if I need it and re-evaluate and refresh. Oftentimes, once I’m five minutes in, I’m starting to hit my stride and just keep chipping away until I’ve made a very satisfying dent in the task at hand.
So, while procrastinating by watching every episode of Friends dubbed in French because you’ve managed to hack into your neighbour’s cable tv may seem like a good idea tonight, in the morning it is likely to end in panic and a case of unsightly running mascara. And you know what, we don’t need that drama in our lives. We’re here to kick arse and deliver the goods. And that all starts with casting aside that sudden and violent urge to bake a crockenbush after watching tonight’s episode of Masterchef and channelling your inner #girlboss. Let’s go out and get it done, ladies.