Procrastination is a massive killer of productivity, and what we might see as a quick break at work to check Facebook or the news can actually add up to hours lost throughout the day. So when you ask yourself why you’re not getting enough done every day, or why you never seem to have enough hours in the day, the problem might not be that you don’t have enough time, it could be that you’re inadvertently wasting time.
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Here are some ways you can beat procrastination and get more out of your day.
You might realize that you take a few minutes here and there to check your email or to play a quick round of Candy Crush. But do you know how much time you’re actually spending? This step is going to be a tough one, but in order to fix your procrastination, you need to know what you’re up against. There are apps you can install on your computer and phone to track how much time you’re spending doing certain activities throughout the day. These are great because you don’t have to do anything—you go about your regularly scheduled business, and the app tracks the rest. Take about a week just to track your habits, which will give you a good sample of how you spend your days.
Identify Your Weak Spots
Now you need to make a list of the most non-productive activities on your list. Do you see any times of day where you especially waste time? Can you identify any triggers that could lead to those less productive times of day? For example, if you’re spending a lot of time checking social media right after lunch, or you’re on news sites a lot in the first hour of work, you need to look at what’s causing you to do that. If you’re eating a really fatty, high-carb lunch that’s making you tired, see if switching to something more nutrient-dense and taking a quick walk before returning to your desk might help. And if you’re spending a lot of time on news sites and that’s not relevant to your job, it’s probably because you’re still too tired in the morning when you get to work and you need to find a more effective way to ease into the day. You might also identify that you’re dealing with a bigger issue, such as being unhappy at work or having a lot of issues at home that are interfering with your focus.
How Has Your Work Been Affected?
Now you’re going to want to get even more real with yourself. You know what you’re doing to procrastinate. You might’ve already identified reasons for it. Now you need to understand completely the consequences of that. If you realize that you’re spending 6-8 hours of your work week on Snapchat or at the water cooler, that’s like losing an entire day of your five-day work week. And if you realize you had to put in extra hours at work to make a deadline, or that you weren’t prepared for a presentation as well as you should’ve been, this is a good wake-up call for you to make some changes. These issues you’ve identified, that you’re going to write down, are your motivation for changing gears when you catch yourself procrastinating.
Do Away With the Obstacles
Are you picking up your phone every time you see a notification flash on the screen? It’s funny that we’ve trained ourselves to do that, isn’t it? What you might think will be a 30-second peek at an email could derail you for 30 minutes. Set your phone and computer notifications so that they don’t give you notifications on your screen, except from select people (your spouse, your boss, etc.). You can set aside time during your lunch break and after work to catch up! You can also let your friends and family know that you’re only going to be checking in later in the day, and more likely than not, they’ll be very supportive of your efforts. If you’re being derailed by being too social in the office, you can tell your coworkers you’re dealing with a packed schedule and have just a minute to chat. You will learn to develop a friendly-yet-firm tone.
Jump in Feet First
It’s too easy to procrastinate when you’re supposed to do something you’re dreading because you’re stressed out, it’s incredibly challenging, or when your heart isn’t into it. You might spend too much time “preparing” to do it. No matter how badly you don’t want to do it, the best way to get it over with is to get it done. If you look at your time log and realize that you spent five hours procrastinating over something that would’ve taken two hours to complete, that’s going to be tough to swallow. Studies on procrastination have shown that when people dive in and get it over with, they’re much happier and will waste far less time. And even more encouraging is that once you’re elbow-deep in the project, your mood will likely have changed as well!
Identify small landmarks within the scope of the project where you can pause for a moment and treat yourself. Go get a cup of coffee, take a quick walk, or something short that will give you a brief mental break. Then get right back to it! And once you’ve completed the project, give yourself a bit bigger reward like going to a movie or something you really enjoy.
As you’re changing your procrastination habits, you’re likely going to have victories and losses. When you do have a lapse, don’t beat yourself up too much. Acknowledge what happened, identify what caused the moment of weakness, and forgive yourself. Keep pushing for productivity, and you’ll end up making that your norm.
When you need a top primary care clinic in Charlottesville, call Albemarle Square Family Health Care. Our health care providers include a team of physicians and nurse practitioners who can help you. Give us a call now!