How To Kill Procrastination

My inbox is about to explode. There’s a pile of dishes in the sink. I’ve yet to hang my washing which has been sitting in the laundry. For two days now!

And I think there’s only one pair of clean socks left in my drawer.

Meanwhile, I run around like a crazy witch about to lose her head because I have three deadlines (yesterday), the website is forever breaking (non-negotiable), my mum, dad, brother, his wife and their 16 month old baby decided to come down from Brisbane for a whole week. At the same time.

Did I mention, they stayed in my two-bedroom apartment with me and my man?

We’re a very close-knit family – pun intended. Luckily, my boyfriend didn’t mind. In fact, he enjoyed their company a little too much. But I digress.

If you’re like me (the impatient and restless type), you juggle multiple projects, have a million ideas screaming for brain-space inside your head and you just can’t sit still.

So, what do you do? You take on more things, of course!

When it comes to things that really matter I don’t procrastinate (well, OK.. sometimes) but this juggling habit is causing me to “delay”… my inbox, the dishes, the washing and so forth.

According to Dr Timothy Pychyl “all procrastination is delay but not all delay is procrastination.” He says that procrastination is a very special type of postponement; it is irrational.

In my case, I put off answering (some) emails, the dishes and laundry because I will be worse off if I don’t spend that time exterminating the bugs on my website, working on my looming deadline and client projects (so I get paid) and spending quality time with visiting family – before they completely take over my house.

Does that make me a procrastinator?

Dr Piers Steel argues that “if you put off something purposefully because you think it’s a good idea to delay, you’re not procrastinating. You’re scheduling or prioritising, sometimes just to feel the motivational thrill of doing it all at the last moment. Procrastination is when you planned or felt that you should have done the thing earlier, and then delayed anyway. In short, it is putting off despite expecting to be worse off.”

He prefers to call it “prudence” or purposeful delay.

Personally, I’ve probably crossed the line between a productive juggler and a crazy witch who lost her head because she took on the behemoth Catholic Church.

However, if you’re a little irrational with your delays, The Pinstriped Suit offers five sure-fire ways to kill procrastination.

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.

Now, I’ll just head off to the shops, get some sun and may be a coffee before I get on to the dishes.

Robelen Bajar

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