– by Wendy Morley, Publisher –
Please share. It’s good karma 🙂
I’m pretty fond of life.
It offers so much to enjoy and be amused by and find fun and challenging and rewarding. But pretty much every area of life has some parts that we have to slog through. We have paperwork to get caught up on (my blood pressure went up just thinking about that) or we have to practice over and over or we have to create reports or we have to clean and proved upkeep and maintenance.
Some of us are great at slogging through all this; we just put our heads down and power our way to the other side. Others find any excuse to put off doing things they don’t want to. Me? Through my life I’ve been strange mixture between the two, caused in part by my mother’s influence. (Of course. If all else fails, blame the mother.)
I wouldn’t call my mother a first-rate procrastinator, but she’s at least a pretty good hack. Certain things she’ll get done early, like her taxes for example, but some of the day-to-day tasks get put off almost indefinitely. Just in case she’s reading this and wondering what I’m referring to, when’s the last time you cleaned the oven, Mom?
My procrastinating life goes kind of like this: As a child, I procrastinated with everything. Growing up, I decided I wanted to get my shit together and accomplish things. I stopped procrastinating with a vengeance and accomplished so much! People have been amazed! Fast forward to the last couple of years and yup … I’ve picked me up some bad procrastination habits again.
Personally, for this relapse I blame a potent combination of divorce, working from home, social media, injury, renovations and loneliness, but whatever caused it there’s only one way back to the path of righteousness and accomplishment, and that’s to bite the bullet, stop putting off my procrastination recovery and get my shit together for the second time. But how?
Here are a few ways I’ve found to stop procrastinating, get things done and spend more of my life doing what I really want to be doing because for me, the problem with procrastination is that it actually wastes a lot of my time. Procrastination is not me filling my time in any way that adds value – sleeping, for example – instead I’m filling my time by reading about the birthday card my friend’s four-year-old kid drew and what my cousin made for dinner. No offense to my friend or her kid or my cousin, but I believe my time would be better spent playing guitar or going out with friends or lying on the grass looking at clouds or any number of things that I’d be doing with no guilt if I had my work done. Where was I? Oh yes: the tips.
1. Know yourself
Many great achievers have said an important aspect of their success is recognizing their weaknesses and either working to overcome them or hiring someone who can fill that role. There’s no shame in paying someone to do what you just don’t want to. If cleaning is your issue, then maybe hiring a housekeeper once per month is the answer. You don’t have to do everything yourself. In some cases it saves money to spend money. Hiring a person to organize your office, for example, might mean you not only stop losing valuable information but also that you can spend more time doing what produces an income while someone else takes over the tasks you hate. According to legend, Winston Churchill was all set to lay bricks and then thought maybe his time would be better spent running England and he could hire someone to lay bricks. Inscrutable logic.
2. Set a deadline.
For some tasks the deadline might be a day – for example maybe you need to get your month’s receipts organized and filed by the 7th of the next month. In other cases it might be a time – you need to start your yoga by 9:30 am.
3. Keep a schedule.
The less you have to think about things or make decisions, the more likely you are to stick to them. If you just have some nebulous idea like “I have to run three days per week,” then you’re far less likely to do it than if you say “My running times are Monday, Wednesday and Friday at lunch hour.” Same goes for housework, paperwork and anything else you tend to put off.
4. Turn off your TV, YouTube, Netflix or whatever else you’re mindlessly watching.
TV is the stereotypical time suck, but hardly anyone watches TV anymore and you don’t have to have cable to be mindlessly flipping from one thing to the next as the hour hand turns. Cat videos are just as much a time suck as SpongeBob reruns.
5. Turn off your social media.
Oh, social media. It’s such a great way to communicate and share, and an even better way to waste countless hours, days, weeks and years. Decide on a certain time of day you will check social media, and do it for only a specified amount of time. Set an alarm if you have to. Believe me, your life will go on, even if you missed the fact that Kendrick Lamar dropped a new surprise track and you end up listening to it four hours later than your friends. Picture an emergency room physician having to check twitter or Instagram every five minutes. You want that physician dealing with your emergency? I don’t think so.
6. Turn off your phone.
Yes, you might have received a message within the past 3.5 minutes since you last checked. But does it really matter? Chances are, it can wait until your next break. If it’s an actual emergency, they’ll call.
7. Stop checking emails.
No, seriously. Some of us get hundreds of emails every day. If you’re trying to get work done on your computer, where most of us work, and every 90 seconds you’re getting a ping, then you’re going to check the message. It’s a human reaction. Even if you don’t hear a ping, you know emails are coming in and you’re curious, and so you check. Turn the email notifications off. Heck, turn your email off. Put up an autoresponder saying you check your emails twice per day and to phone you if it’s urgent. Yes, this is a productivity tip, but it’s also a procrastination tip.
8. Step away.
Maybe the reason you’re procrastinating is you’re just spending too much time sitting in front of a computer screen. Get some fresh air. Go for a walk or run. Do something else that needs doing, like your laundry or the dishes. Take an actual real break and rejuvenate. Then step back in with renewed vigor.
9. Remind yourself of other things you want to do.
If you can just get this job done, you can then forget about it and go do something you actually want to be doing. If you procrastinate, you actually lose out on life. And your life won’t last forever. Make the most of it.
Wendy has spent much of her life writing about things that improve readers’ health and well being. She has no patience for negativity, shaming or dictating how others “should” be, but rather aims to help people become both true to themselves and happy to be alive.