Laura’s note: I’ve been running a handful of guest posts lately. Today’s is from Tor Refsland, who lives in Norway, and blogs at TimeManagementChef.com.
by Tor Refsland
You and me are in the same situation.
We are victims of the dreadful procrastination beast that keeps too many people from reaching their potential.
The bad thing is that this beast doesn’t just appear when there’s a full moon. It’s working 24/7 to stop us from achieving our dreams.
This has been going on for too long, right?
The good thing is that there are solutions. Here are 7 ways to stop procrastinating today.
1. Know what you need to do. Imagine that you are on vacation with some friends in a foreign country. You have all decided to do some sightseeing on your own, and you plan to call each other in 2 hours to meet up. When it’s time to contact your friends, you realize that your mobile phone battery has gone flat, and you have no way of reaching your friends. If you don’t know your destination, how can you get there? Whatever direction you set out in is unlikely to be the right one. It makes more sense to stay put.
Likewise, if you’re not sure what you should be doing, it’s hard to get motivated. Identifying your most important tasks for the day is the first step to ending procrastination (remember the 80/20 rule — you can get 80 percent of the results by completing your most important 20 percent of tasks).
2. Know when you need to do it . If a colleague asks you to do something for her, and doesn’t specify when the task needs to be done, it’s always easier to put it off (until she reminds you of it — again). Every time you take on a task without setting a deadline, you feed the procrastination beast. Better to create a deadline, and share it to hold yourself accountable.
3. Know why you are doing it. In many ways grown-ups are like kids. If you tell a kid to do a chore, and give him or her a deadline, there is still an important piece missing: the incentive. The reason WHY he or she should perform the specific task.
The same applies for grown-ups. In my experience from the corporate world, when you give someone a really good reason for why a task is so important, you are often able to get your task prioritized. If you can’t give a good reason — good luck.
4. Do any necessary preparation. You are going to start doing task B today at 2 p.m. When you are about to start, you realize that you needed to complete task A before you can start doing task B. This will totally mess with your plan and your productivity. Two different things can happen:
- The time slot allocated for task B will now have to be dedicated to task A or
- You are actually so annoyed about not seeing this coming that it demotivates you, and in this mental state of total irritation, you decide to procrastinate doing task A.
The solution? Start planning each task that needs to be done. Check for dependencies ahead of time, and make sure to plan to complete these steps first.
5. Write it down . Just because you know what you need to do, when you need to do it, and why doesn’t mean you’ll remember these details when you have free time. That’s why to-do lists are so important. I use an excel sheet that I have stored in Dropbox. This means that my master to do list is accessible on any device. I have no excuse for putting things off.
6. Cheer yourself on. As with most things in life, if you want to do something, it’s crucial that you believe you actually can do it. You have to be your own best supporter. It’s easy to come up with reasons you can’t do tasks you’re dreading. Stop doing it. It won’t work. Start to tell yourself that you can do it. And then…
7. Just do it before breakfast. The tasks that you don’t want to do won’t just magically get done by themselves. But we have the most willpower first thing in the morning. Why not try just doing what you’re dreading then? Achieving progress will give you more self-esteem and energy, so you can blast through the rest of your to-do list.
How have you conquered procrastination?
Tor Refsland decided to leave his six-figure job in order to follow his passion — to help online entrepreneurs free up more time, so they can do what they love. Want to become more productive? Download his free Productivity System.