Procrastination is one of those topics that is written about all the time. I find that while the information is useful, the short term inspiration to change your habits dies out quickly.
In my experience, procrastination is usually a result of one of these 3 factors:
I personally haven’t fully solved the procrastination problem yet but I have picked up a few tricks that have helped me immensely when I need to get something done.
1) Set a Time Limit
In Tim Ferris’s book, the The 4-Hour Workweek he talks a lot about productivity and efficiency. One concept he talks about is the idea that the task will swell to the proportion of time available. Basically this means that if you have a task that should take you 15 minutes and you have an hour available, it’ll take you an hour. Tim recommends 90 minute chunks of time. I’ve found that setting a timer for 30 minutes focuses me and gives me the option to continue on for another 30 min or to quickly have a social media break. This creates a day of 30 minute work sessions which are very easy to do.
2) Share Work Space
I’m one of those weird people who finds it easier to get things done when there is somebody in the same room/table as me. We don’t socialize or talk about our projects but instead just share a space to work. This has been incredibly helpful for me because I find that it increases my focus as the expectation is to get work done, not watch the latest episode of Mad Men.
3) Finish Tasks in Advance
Ever have one of those really daunting projects that you have three weeks to get done but just seems enormous? Whenever I have to do work like this, I sit down and create a work back schedule for two weeks instead. That way, if I can have the project done early, my stress is gone and I go into overdrive for two weeks which usually results in my best ideas. If you get the task done sooner, then you can reward yourself and have a stress free extra week.
4) Create some Discomfort
People always say that the key to hammering down work is to be comfortable. I disagree. If you are too comfortable, you are more likely to want to slack off or get distracted. Your physical posture and body language are a key part of your effectiveness. One of the reasons why wearing a suit to work everyday is useful is because it puts me in the mindset of “work mode”.
5) Don’t Listen to Music
I love to listen to classical or jazz tunes while I work. But I noticed recently that it does hinder my ability to concentrate if I’m on a deadline or I’m doing very strategic work. Sure, music can spark creativity but if i’m writing or creating a marketing plan, I find that I need to pull all my focus into my task. Some people are just fine listening to music including music with lyrics but I can say that for myself, when I turn the music off for a short period of time, it boosts my productivity.
What are your tips for killing procrastination?
You should follow the Pinstriped Suit on Facebook!