If you’re reading this, I’m guessing at least some part of you is admitting to having a problem with procrastination. No judgement here, me too.
In fact, I’m pretty sure we all do. Whether it’s the ‘tackling everything on the to-do list but the thing we really need to’ sort of procrastination or the ‘lost ourselves in a YouTube rabbit hole hours ago, send help’ kind, it’s inevitable. No matter what your boss tells you or what the perfect world of Instagram portrays, eight hours of concentration a day just isn’t possible.
There’s a difference between accepting that and using it as a tool to fuel your distraction though. If you find yourself erring towards the latter (be honest) then here are a few of the things I find helpful when it comes to finding focus.
Find out how you work best
I’m one of those rare morning people whose alarm goes off before the clock strikes 6 which means I get a good 75% of my work done at the start of the day. It also means that come 3pm, I’m pretty useless on the focus front which is why I structure my day accordingly to avoid procrastination. I’ll tackle the tasks that require the most concentration first thing and save less demanding ones like social media scheduling for example, for the afternoon. If you’re more of an evening owl, do the opposite, the important thing is, you make the most of your motivation.
Prioritise three tasks
I borrowed this idea from Anna Newton, A.K.A my favourite blogger ever. She’s the queen of organisation and suggests prioritising three tasks for the day in order to stay productive – one in the morning, one either just before or after lunch and another in the pm. It’s a method designed to avoid the oh so familiar feeling of overwhelm and it’s worked wonders for me. Her book, An Edited Life is full of tips and tricks like this if you’re interested in finding out more.
Ask yourself why
Getting to the root of why I’m putting something off also helps me to combat procrastination. Is the task difficult? A time-consuming one? Does the thought of it bore me? Whatever the reason, once I’ve realised what it is, I find it much easier to work on a solution. Maybe there’s someone I can go to for advice on how to tackle it or I reward myself with an early finish once it’s completed.
Step away from your phone
Including this makes me quite possibly the world’s biggest hypocrite but I’m hoping you’re a fan of the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mantra. My phone is hands down my biggest source of procrastination. I’ve moved all of my apps into folders, named them things designed to put me off and turned off notifications but try as I might, I cannot stop checking it or, more specifically, Instagram. I’m thinking it’s just too late for me at this point but there might still be hope for you. Scaring yourself with your screen time, locking it in a drawer or having a friend hold it hostage are just a few of the many things I recommend trying.
Get away from your desk
When I’m experiencing a longer-than-usual period of procrastination, a change of scenery pretty much always helps get me back on track. Even if all I have the time or energy for is a walk to the café down the road, it’s amazing what a different setting and an interaction with someone new can do for my mindset. It’s something I’m working on doing more often in an effort to breathe something that isn’t recirculated office air for eight hours a day but it’s a work in progress.
How do you overcome procrastination when it strikes? Any tips to add to the list?