Everyone procrastinates. I don’t care who you are, you procrastinate.
I know some of you are going to turn around and call bullshit but it’s true and here’s why.
If you have set yourself a goal, every second you spend not working towards that goal you’re procrastinating. Having lunch, sleeping, speaking with your family, ANYTHING that isn’t helping you get closer to your goal should be considered as procrastination.
It’s an extreme view but once I realized this, I actually made huge progression because I now know every second counts. So the point is not to eliminate procrastination instead it’s to select your procrastination and limit them.
In saying this, there is such thing as positive procrastination.
Positive procrastination are things like:
- Spending time with family
- Sleeping (within reason – there’s a difference to sleeping to re-energize and being lazy).
- Buying Christmas presents and watching the Santa Clause series – ALWAYS acceptable as long as it’s one movie a week up till Christmas.
These are some examples of the kinds of activities that are acceptable and even needed for life. So therefore they cannot be avoided but certainly can be minimized.
- TV shows and Movies other than the Santa Clause series
- Game consoles
- Phones, again
- Phones for a third time to reinforce that they’re the biggest motivation killers
Over the year I’ve developed a couple of systems and ways to keep procrastination to a minimum. Before I start, I can’t stress enough – these have to be done every single day with every task you do. They need to become habits.
Firstly, what is flow?
Flow is amazing! It’s the thing you get when you’re so immersed in what you’re doing that everything else doesn’t matter. You lose track of time and all distractions are eliminated. I get it all the time and while I have it, for example, my sister will be speaking to me and I won’t even realize. Then after an hour I’ll go and ask her if she was talking to me. ‘Yes Jesse, like an hour ago’ she’ll say.
When you’re in flow you get the most work done, so you have to look at every way to encourage it.
The below are ways that I’ve found helpful.
Do the Most Important Task First
I’ve found that I work best between 7:00am – 10:00am and 8:00pm – 11:00pm. So during these times I make sure that I do my most important tasks.
I always do my most important task first. No matter what it is, as that way I know that if it’s the only think I accomplish for the day, my day will still be a success.
Since this is when my brain is most active, it’s actually when I do a lot of my writing.
I recommend you do the same. The night before, pick out the most important task for the next day. Highlight it and make it stand out. As soon as you start the next day, that task is all you focus on until it’s complete. When I say focus, I mean do not touch anything else – phones, social media, other tasks, DO NOT get touched.
I’m slowly finding how important it is to use a timer.
Before I used one, simple tasks like writing a blog post could stretch out to 8 hours when in reality it should take a maximum of 2 hours (depending on your skill level). I was finding that if I had no set time limit for a task I had nothing to hold myself accountable to. If you’re not using one tasks are almost certainly taking you longer than they need to.
So how do you set an appropriate time?
This is the approach I took – however long tasks are taking you now, half it. It was that simple and I’ve never run into a time where it’s taken me longer. If it takes you longer than that, you haven’t properly incorporated the following points. In order for any of this to work you have to utilize ALL points in this article.
There’s one more step…
If you half it and find you’re getting it done with time to spare, don’t stretch the task out to fill the time. Adjust the time to suit the task. For example if you find that you can actually write an article in 2 hours not 3, adjust the timer to 2 hours. If you keep it at 3 hours procrastination will slowly sneak back in.
Also note – that as you get better the time it takes you will become less, so you have to do the above constantly.
Work to Deadlines
Further on the above point, every task needs a deadline. Without a dead line you can take as long as you want, which again will encourage procrastination.
Before you start remember this – If something takes 2 minutes or less, do it straight away otherwise these simple tasks will build up and cause you stress.
Okay, so deadlines are really important.
Generally, a task should always be completed within 48 hours. If it can’t be done in that time break it down so it can be. Turn the task into smaller more manageable tasks.
For example, if you’re a web developer you won’t build the whole website in 2 days but you could build the template or certain pages. Tackling smaller tasks will enable you to stay focused. Tackling huge tasks all at once will overload you and cause you to put it off.
Ever been in that situation where you have so much to do you decide to do none of it?
Remove Social Media Apps
Not forever, set a goal of 2 weeks. In order to do the next point you have to eliminate your attachment to social media and the best way to do this is to go cold turkey.
I’ve done this approach to a couple of things.
I did it with alcohol and actually haven’t had a drop since. I realized that drinking is actually just a bottomless money pit and not much else.
But with social media, I obviously didn’t get rid of it completely but from going cold turkey I was able to manage it.
Once you’ve deleted them, this will reduce your usage to only when you have access to a computer.
This does 2 things.
- It removes your addiction to social media.
- It greatly reduces the amount you use your phone. 9/10 times when you check your phone you’re going on social media. Without it you will hardly look at your phone. If I remember correctly, I got to the point where I would hardly even have my phone on me.
Specify Times when you look at your phone
Once you spent some time without social media apps (I recommend at least 2 weeks but keep in mind it takes 66 days to develop a habit), you’ll be able to get them back and work to a schedule.
The next step is to limit the amount of times you check your phone and this should be done by setting certain times of the day and how long you can look for (that second part is really important).
When I first started doing this it looked like this:
- Check phone at; 6:30am, 9:30am, 12:30pm, 3:30pm, 6:30am, before bed.
- 10 minutes max each time.
I’ve now learnt to limit it to only while I’m not working on a task, so it’s a little different but this is how you should start.
By limiting usage you’re training yourself to not use your phone as a procrastination tool.
This is one I am so passionate about. I’m sick of people telling me they can multitask. If you honestly think you can multitask, you’re an idiot. You cannot do 2 things at the same time and produce both at 100%. You cannot brush your teeth, talk to someone in person and cook dinner.
That’s all I’m saying on this point because I think it’s stupid that people even consider it.
In order to reduce procrastination and encourage flow you have to put all of the above into practice. In saying that these are not all the procrastination, everybody will have their own but you can use the above examples and apply them to your life.
In the coming weeks I’m going to be uploading a few FREE templates for you to use in planning and mapping out your goals because I’m sick of websites making people pay for them. Sign up to my newsletter if you want to be notified when they’re up.
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