As business owners our time is precious. More time means more things done, more people we can help, more money…

Time is what we need!

What is the enemy of time and productivity?

Yes you got it! PROCRASTINATION!

Procrastination at work stops us in our tracks time and time again. Unfortunately for most of us, procrastination doesn’t disappear when the workload increases. Even when we’re busy we still find ourselves wasting time.

Avoiding procrastination can seem difficult; emails, technology, meetings and family life can all be a distraction. How can we learn to recognise procrastination as it creeps in and make sure we are not just keeping ourselves busy but actually being productive?

I take a look at twelve ways that you can tackle procrastination and get more done at work.

#1 – Outline your tasks and make sure they are achievable

The first trick to avoiding procrastination is to prevent it from even getting a foothold in your day.

The beginning of any productive day actually starts the evening before. At the end of work, write down the tasks that you want to complete tomorrow. Knowing that your workflow is already outlined when you sit down at your desk means that you will not waste time thinking about what you have to get done.

There’s nothing that procrastination loves more than a really huge, vague goal that sits on your to-do list like some kind of unscalable mountain. If your task is too broad and too intimidating to tackle, chances are you’ll keep putting it off. If something has been sitting on your task list for over a week make sure you break it down into smaller steps. Suddenly, progress can be made gradually and it feels a lot more achievable.

 #2 – Start your day off with the most difficult task

I once read somewhere that a famous entrepreneur starts off his day by ‘eating a frog.’ This is his analogy for beginning his morning by tackling the most difficult task on his to-do list.

There does seem to be a certain logic in his argument. Whilst you don’t need to be on the hunt for any amphibians, you should commit to getting your most daunting task completed first-thing in the morning.

The benefits of this are twofold; one: you work on the hardest task when you are feeling your freshest, and, two: completing that task sets you up for a successful day.

#3 – Allocate work time

It seems a little odd to talk about defining work time. After all, it’s not like you go to the office by choice to simply hang out with friends for eight hours of your day. Entering your place of work shifts your thinking into work mode. You’ve come there to work, which motivates you to get stuff done.

For the work-from-home crew, allocate clear work time where you are going to focus on business related tasks only. Between the hours of nine and five, don’t let household or family distractions push you off track. That pile of laundry will just have to remain unironed.

For those of you who get caught up in a lot of meetings, make sure there is time blocked out in your calendar to carry out your work.

For more tips on how to create the perfect work life balance, take a look at the blog I wrote especially for female entrepreneurs. []

#4 – Allow yourself a clutter free workspace

A tidy, calm environment is not only going to help us stay stress free at work but it will avoid unnecessary distractions. Ensure your workspace is as organised as possible and remove unrelated items that will just divert your attention.

#5 – Tune out digital distractions

Time spent on our computer can feel productive, but we are all guilty of falling down the Internet rabbit hole when we should be focusing on work. To make sure that you are not wasting time you can download an extension for your web browser such as StayFocused.

“StayFocused is a productivity extension for Google Chrome that helps you to stay focused on work by restricting the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites. Once your allotted time has been used up, the sites you have blocked will be inaccessible for the rest of the day.”*

Say goodbye, Facebook and hello to a distraction-free day.

#6 – Remove email temptation

We’re all guilty of spending far too much time in our inboxes. Whilst we may feel terribly productive organising all of our colour-coded folders, the truth is we’re simply procrastinating with these non-essential tasks.

The first thing you can do is to remove the email notification pop-up from the bottom of the screen. The same goes for any sound alerts you may have that ping on your computer or phone, dragging you back to your inbox.

There are many plugins available for providers such as Gmail that can help you keep on track of your emails. You can also save yourself time by setting up canned responses for topics you answer regularly.

#7 – Get an accountability buddy

Sharing your goals is an incredibly motivating way to keep on track. Partnering up with an accountability buddy who will check in on your progress means that there is nowhere to hide. Explaining why you haven’t started on a piece of work is harder to justify to someone else who will be able to see through all your excuses.

Think of it as work-watchers instead of Weight Watchers, minus the daunting scales.

#8 – Remember to delegate

Are you putting off a particularly hideous piece of work because you simply don’t feel up to the task? If it doesn’t match your skills, or you know you simply don’t have the time to get started, don’t be afraid to delegate.

If you can’t delegate, then ask for help on a particular area you are struggling with. A problem shared is a problem halved and you will get the work done far quicker with someone else’s assistance.

#9 – Change locations

If you’ve been stagnating in the same position for too long, chances are you will not be feeling your freshest. Switching your location throughout your day – or week – can reinvigorate you and refocus your mind.

Surrounding yourself by others in a busy environment can act as a catalyst for your own workflow, especially if you normally sit by yourself in a very quiet office.

#10 – Use a reward system

You may raise an eyebrow at this suggestion, but believe me, sometimes we need to revert back to treats in order to produce results. Although we may have moved on since childhood, most of us still like to receive reward and praise for our work. This usually acts as motivation to get on and do something (which may have involved tidying our bedrooms as a child).

Candy and pocket money may not be your reward of choice these days, but you can certainly use the bargaining tool to galvanise yourself into action. Tell yourself that you deserve a bubble bath and a glass of wine later if you complete that piece of work you’ve been putting off for ages

#11 – Strive for progress, not perfection

Whilst some pieces of work are quick wins, there may be others that seem to drag on for ages. Agonising over the details or using the level of difficulty as a reason to drag your heels may mean certain jobs never get done.

If you struggle to move forward with your work, remember that a little progress is better than none. Break your goal down into actionable steps. If you can say you’ve done one of those small steps today then you’re moving in the right direction.

#12 – Redefine your goals

My final tip is to tackle those goals that have sat on your to-do list for days, weeks or even months.

It’s time to get brutally honest. If you’re avoiding getting started, ask yourself whether it is even a true priority.

If something has lurked at the back of your checklist for ages then it’s probably not something important. If you know it is business crucial, pick apart the goal and write down the exact steps you need to take to get it done

The secret to getting more done

Procrastination hits us at work and in our personal lives. We are faced with many things that we just don’t want to do, especially if there seems to be little or no personal benefit.

By being clear on the outcome, making sure each action is achievable and focusing on the reward (which could just be the great feeling of accomplishment!) you’ll soon be clearing those to-do lists.

Have I missed any of your favourite productivity tips? What tools and tricks do you use to stay motivated at work? I’d love to hear what you have to say!


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SOURCE: StayFocused

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