Monday, February 18, 2013

Eleven Ways to Procrastinate and Still Get Things Done

According to some reports, more than 20 percent of us chronically look for distractions to avoid doing the work in front of us. I don’t know about you, but that seems chronically low. I work with many people who have taken procrastination to an art form - putting off doing something, anything until a future time. However, putting off certain things can make you a better time manager! By focusing energy and effort on the tasks of most importance, you can procrastinate and still get things done.

As Vincent T. Foss suggested, “One of the greatest labor-saving inventions of today is tomorrow.” So, in the spirit of Mr. Foss, below are 11 ways to procrastinate effectively:

Remove the urgency from trivia: Commit to a deadline. Deadlines create a sense of urgency. Setting a deadline and sticking to it allows you to focus attention on matters of higher importance first allowing more trivial things to wait.

Do one thing at a time: Take complicated tasks requiring attention one at a time and see them through to completion. Many of us float from one task to another, never bringing anything to completion. Ultimately, the unresolved tasks take their toll creating in us an urgent frenzy.

Occupy the mind: When bogged down, take a break and rejuvenate. Even though it’s important to stick to a task once it’s started, if you reach a point of diminishing returns, take a break (don’t abandon it) and focus on some other task.

There’s always tomorrow: A prioritized daily action list is great for managing time and for procrastinating efficiently. Those tasks not completed today can be carried over to the next day’s list and reprioritized.

Use empty spaces of time: Every one of us has spare time. Properly used, this time can be of considerable value to a creative procrastinator. Always have a constructive task that needs completing with you for these spare moments – a chapter that needs to be read or a paper that needs to be written. Sometimes, however, the spare times are good for just relaxing.

Front and center: As you are wrapping up work for the day, place your next highest priority task in the middle of your desk for tomorrow. This assumes you have a dedicated work space for work – which is also critical to time management!

Select the best time of day: What is your best time of day? If you are a morning person, put off your critical tasks until that time of day. You will be more refreshed and eager to accomplish all that needs to be done.

Adapt to the day: It is a good idea to block out time to accomplish your high priority tasks. But blocking out full days and planning precisely what you will do during those times is often pointless. Be prepared to handle unexpected interruptions.

Be persistent: Stick with each task through to completion. Following the old adage that “behavior persists when it is rewarded,” make yourself stick to the task with the promise that upon completion, you will spend time on something is fun.

Dislike it? Do it!: Simply put, get the hard tasks and those you like least out of the way first.

Post-it: Instead of a list, consider post-it notes. Try using a these handy notes to capture important tasks and priorities. It feels great to throw them away when the task is done.

The next time you feel the urge to procrastinate… do it. And let me know how it works out for you.

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