How often do you sit staring at a blank screen, watching the icon blinking back at you waiting for inspiration to take hold? You’re trying so hard to focus on this one document that you need to write but you find yourself thinking about what you feel like for dinner, what movie you’re going to watch tonight, or how much washing you need to catch up on. So many distractions, all keeping you from the goal at hand. We all get distracted and my prime distraction is clutter. Sitting down to write this resulted in me cleaning my office, moving files to more ‘logical’ spaces and completing a tidy up of my computer files. This will no doubt result in me spending more time tomorrow trying to put everything back where it was when it comes time for further procrastination…
With this in mind I thought it would be a good time to do some productive procrastination and put together a few tips on how to best avoid wasteful procrastination.
- Remove the clutter from your workspace; this might seem like an avoidance tool the typical ‘lets clean instead’ distraction. But if you start with a clear, clean workspace you are less likely to find an easy distraction at your fingertips. Clear everything away that doesn’t relate to the task at hand.
Didn’t work? Still finding that you can look around your office and find 101 things to do that suddenly become more important that the task at hand, change your environment. Go for a walk, with a notepad and pen. Get some fresh air and clear your mind.
- Finding that you click your computer on and get so many dings and dongs from alerts and reminders that the decision to just take a quick look at your emails becomes a 3-hour process? This then somehow leads you to being on Facebook or other social media, reading blogs or doing a survey on what type of worker you are… remove the alerts from all forms of social media and emails. In fact, don’t even open them until the task at hand is complete, it is also a great idea to dedicate email times e.g 10am, 2pm and 4pm.
- Procrastination can often follow a mental block, a lack of inspiration for the task at hand. Spend some time with people that inspire you to move forward. We don’t always know people that inspire action, and they are not always available but think outside the square. Spend 10 minutes watching a You Tube speech with Tony Robbins, Bill Gates or an inspiring TED talk and start to feel that inspiration and motivation build momentum. Just don’t allow yourself to spend 10 min watching another cat video. Set up a channel that is solely for your inspiration.
- Simplify your task; write the steps that are needed to achieve the required outcome. Put each step down in a list and give each one a deadline. Now go through and make a note next to each one with what you need to achieve that step, are you relying on someone else to assist with a step, do they know that you are relying on them? Let them know well in advance so they too can plan and be ready. Go through each step and simply note what needs to happen to achieve it. Now all of a sudden there is a step by step guide to achieve what appeared to be an unachievable task, what seems so complicated and kept getting pushed to the side is now a simple list of small achievable tasks that all work together.
- Reward yourself! You sat down to do a task that you had put off for any other imaginable option and you have completed it! Now it’s time for those cat videos…