There’s no feeling quite like putting the final touches on a project you’ve worked on from inception to execution. Doing good work is satisfying, and it gives us drive and purpose in our daily lives. That considered, why do so many of us fall into the trap of procrastination? It’s something which has blighted workers for a long time, yet, in our digital age, it is arguably a bigger problem than ever before.
With so many devices pinging and buzzing, social media feeds refreshed every two minutes and a large number of work apps to juggle to boot, beating procrastination takes more than just willpower. To really do our best work we need to make use of helpful techniques and general good form. After all, you wouldn’t try to improve your health and fitness without coming up with a plan to help you stay accountable and motivated – so why should your working life be any different? Keep reading to see our top three tips for beating procrastination for good.
When it comes to sitting down and focusing, would you rather be in a quiet spot with a clear desk and lots of breathing space, or, would you opt for busyness, clutter, and constant phone pings and emails… ? Of course, it’s not a hard question to answer. Keeping a tidy workspace has been regularly linked to better peace of mind. And this principle applies not just to your physical work area, but to your digital and mental headspace, too. In our busy modern world, so many of us fall into the trap of flitting between tasks, jumping from our inbox to one miscellaneous task or another. It takes the average person nearly 30 minutes to refocus after being distracted from a task, which – when your day is built around continual distractions – eats into a lot of valuable working time. Next time you sit down to tackle a task or project, why not turn off your phone and log out of your email inbox – reducing the time you spend communicating digitally to half an hour at the start and end of the day is one of the best ways of giving yourself the mental and digital space you need to get on with the important work that’s sitting right in front of you.
Abraham Lincoln was famously quoted saying: “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe.” When it comes to good work, this same principle of strategy before reactive action should also apply. There is no sense in working on tasks in the order they’re assigned, instead you must prioritize where to start based on a variety of factors such as project length, difficulty, importance, and deadline. While we all know this is true in principle, actually putting this into practice is easier said than done. Especially when you have a plethora of competing tasks and projects to manage going forward. You can lighten this burden by using a tried and tested productivity tool to get all your ducks in a row. One of the most popular of these techniques is called The Eisenhower Matrix (also referred to as the Urgent-Important Matrix) – you can make use of it by organizing your tasks into four quadrants based on their importance and urgency, so you can see at a glance what you should work on next and what isn’t a high priority. Using a digital template like this one in Ayoa is an ideal way of keeping on top of your daily work priorities so you can tick off all your to-dos without finding yourself partaking in idle time-wasting.
When you’re running on empty, what’s going to better help you reach your destination – stopping to refuel, or pushing your car to drive on vapors? I think it goes without saying that the logical thing to do is stop, top up on fuel, and restart your journey – yet so many of us fail to apply this same logic to our daily work life. It can be incredibly tempting when you’re busy to burn the midnight oil and power through until all your tasks are done. Undeniably, there are times when a little extra exertion is required to get a project finished, yet taking no breaks at all can actually be detrimental to your overall productivity because, just like the car running on vapors, your thinking abilities become depleted from the hours of unending work and before you know it you’re not only starting to flag but your work becomes riddled with silly errors and mistakes and – guess what? – the procrastination monster begins to raise its ugly head. Taking regular breaks is the ideal way to keep your mind focussed and your ideas fresh. Plus, the breaks you take away from work to focus on a bit of leisure time will help to curb the need to procrastinate when you’re sat down and back on task. So you can get what you need to do done, and still have a bit of time left aside for your own mental health and wellbeing.
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