Business First | How to beat procrastination: 6 ways to stay on task

How to beat procrastination: 6 ways to stay on task

08 Feb 2017 –– Tips & Advice
6 ways to stay on task

Procrastination is the enemy of productivity and many of us fall prey to it every day.

However, the feeling of satisfaction that comes from a work day well spent is worth the effort of implementing a few simple techniques. We've put together six ways to help you stay on task today.

1. Write a list

Organisation is the key to productivity. And where better to start than with a good old to do list? Now, before you log down 20 things you need to achieve over the course of the next month, start smaller. A daily list of, say, five urgent tasks to be completed that day is a far more efficient way to work towards goals of all sizes.

However, your organisational admin doesn't need to end there. Setting up reminders on your computer or phone is a great way to keep yourself on task to complete the day's workload by the time the office clock strikes 5. There are even apps now to help you schedule and manage your time more effectively. Just make sure organising your time doesn't become your latest form of procrastination.

2. Use "smaller" verbs

Productivity expert Jason Womack takes issue with "big" verbs. In his book, 'Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More', he says words like create, implement, design, plan and discuss are too big. They're abstract, they loom too large on our to do list and we wonder where on earth to start.

Smaller, more achievable verbs help us break jobs down into bitesized tasks. After all, most of us wouldn't find it half as daunting to action an email, call or draft. None of these verbs carry the dread and stress associated with the bigger verbs.

3. The Five Minute Miracle

Techniques like the Five Minute Miracle are useful ways to kick your brain into action.

It started life as a self-help method pioneered by psychotherapist Tara Springett to overcome psychological problems, but the principle works for all sorts of situations.

Pick a small job on your list and set a timer for five minutes, then devote yourself to this task for the duration. The idea is, by starting it, you'll be more likely to complete it in its entirety so it should be five minutes well spent.

4. Treat yourself

Beating procrastination isn't just about working yourself to the bone. You'll be much more productive overall if you reward yourself for completing a task you've been working towards or dreading. Treats needn't be extravagant - a coffee break, walk, or 15 minutes on Facebook may be all the incentive you need to get cracking.

5. Blackout

And on the subject of Facebook, if procrastination is getting the better of you it's time to switch off. Instilling a social media and internet blackout during working hours or the time you've set aside to completed a certain job is a great way to heighten productivity. If your job involves using the internet or social media, that may seem impossible, but it isn't. Limiting access to specific time slots can have the desired effect on your output.

6. Do one thing at a time

You've made a schedule for the day, so stick to it. It's tempting to veer off into a new task or dip into the next job on your list. Instead, adopt a "touch once" approach to each task and request. Once you open an email, deal with its contents immediately rather than filing it for later. Pick an item from your list and immerse yourself in it until it's completed.

It's not always feasible to complete every job in its entirety by the end of the day. Yet if you've structured your list in the right way, you can accomplish what you've set out for that day.

OK, so you may well be procrastinating right now by reading this blog, but we'll let you off. Now, it's time to get back to work...